THEY WILL OWN YOU!
COMMON SYMPTOMS AND POSSIBLE CAUSES
You are the "FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE" for your ferrets health.
A VETERINARY DOCTOR is the BEST QUALIFIED person
to advise you if your ferret needs immediate veterinary care!
FUR & SKIN
Sources: Pamela T. Grant, Diagnosing Problems with ferrets
STAR* Newsletter, Volume 2, Issue 2
Susan A. Brown, D.M.V., Most Common Health Problems of the Ferret, published various places
Matt Jones, D.M.V., Before You Make that Emergency Call, Weasel Help Monthly, Volume 4, Numbers 3 & 4
Elizabeth Hillyer, D.M.V. & Katherine Queensbury, D.M.V., Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents, W.B. Saunders, 1997
Heat Warning: a ferret can not be subjected to temperatures over 75 degrees. NEVER leave your ferret in direct sunlight or unattended in a vehicle.
Ferrets Sleep: on average of 18-20 hours a day
Ferrets: are NOT rodents
Speed Bump: a ferret who suddenly lies flat on the floor during play time.
ADRENAL DISEASE- are Tumors on the adrenal glands. Signs of this disease are hair loss (SEE PHOTO OF AN ADRENAL FERRET BELOW) that generally starts at the tail spreading throughout their body and eventually become completely bald if untreated. Females may have an enlarged vulva and males an enlarged prostrate. They become lethargic and may gain a potbelly. Most ferrets who have surgery to remove the tumors, recover successfully. This disease can affect a ferret at any age, but is most common between the ages of 3 and 5 years. Consult your Ferret Experienced Veterinarian for treatment options.
INSULINOMA- are Tumors in the Pancreas that produces excessive amounts of insulin. Ferrets will experience low blood sugars and death will follow if not treated immediately. They become lethargic, weak and shaky in the hind legs, appearing drunk. Other signs are pawing or foaming at the mouth, suddenly laying on the floor and staring into space. Keeping Karo Syrup on hand is highly recommended. If your ferret is showing these signs, administer approximately a teaspoon of the Karo Syrup into the mouth with a syringe or rub syrup on the gums. Your ferret should come around in approximately 10-20 minutes. Keep your ferret quite and take your ferret in for a Glucose check immediately! If you find your ferret in a comatose condition, follow these instructions and get your ferret to your veterinarian or the animal emergency.
LYMPHOMA - in an older ferret is a type of cancer defined by proliferation of malignant lymphocytes within solid organs such as the lymph nodes, bone marrow, liver and spleen. It may also occur in the eye, skin, and gastrointestinal tract. It is also known as Lymphosarcoma. The lymph nodes become large, in a bean shape form and are firm. General signs and systems include enlargement of lymph nodes under the skin, hind leg weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, lethargy, and vomiting.
Multicentric lymphoma - a painless enlargement of the peripheral lymph nodes. This is seen in areas such as under the jaw, the armpits, the groin and behind the knees. Enlargement of the liver and spleen causes the abdomen to distend.
Mediastinal lymphoma - can cause fluid to collect around the lungs, leading to coughing and difficulty breathing.
Gastrointestinal lymphoma - causes vomiting, diarrhea and melena (digested blood in the stool).
Lymphoma of the skin - is an uncommon occurrence. It typically appears as itchy inflammation of the skin progressing to nodules and plaques.
Signs of lymphoma in other sites - depends on the location. Central nervous system involvement can cause seizures or paralysis. Eye involvement can lead to glaucoma, uveitis (bleeding in the eye), retinal detachment and blindness.
Lymphoma in the bone marrow - causes anemia, low platelet count and low white blood cell count.
Can your ferret be cured? It is not possible. However, Prednisone can improve the symptoms dramatically.
Cutaneous Lymphoma - is one of the more uncommon forms of lymphoma, but it is the slowest moving. The progression of the disease can take years. The most common symptom of cutaneous lymphoma is redness and swelling of the feet.
JUVENILE LYMPHOMA - It affects ferrets 2 years and younger. It is very aggressive and the ferrets health declines rapidly. The lymphocytes rapidly infiltrate the organs, causing organ failure.
The Information provided on our web site is for educational purposes.
PLEASE consult your veterinarian immediately if you experience any slight changes in your ferrets activities, eating habits, or change in the stool.
Ferrets become dehydrated quickly. Delay in seeking medical attention for your ferret, may result in an unnecessary death of your beloved ferret.
Ferrets have a reputation of beingThieves.
"Ferret" in other Languages
The word "Ferret" in Latin means: "Little Thief"
In English: it is Ferret
Russian: Domashni Horek
Lifespan: 7yrs to 10 yrs
Other Fun Interesting
Facts about Ferrets
Male Ferrets are called "Hobs"
Neutered Males are called "Gibs"
Female Ferrets are called "Jills"
Spayed Females are called "Sprites"
Baby Ferrets are called "Kits"
A family group of ferrets is a "Business"
Breeding season is between Dec and Aug
Litters range from 1 to 15
Kits are born pink and get their color at around 2 weeks old
Kits open their eyes around 34 days
Ferrets develop personality about 8-10 weeks old
Males tend to be larger then females in length and weight
Males are on average 15-16 inches long and can weigh between 2 lbs - 3.5 lbs
Females are on average 13-14 inches long and weigh between 0.75 - 2.5 lbs
Ferrets have relatively poor eye sight, but have a keen sense of smell and hearing.
Ferrets have been domesticated for approximately 2000 years.
Ferrets were brought to America as pets
approximately 300 years ago
Ferret owners have a variety of fun nicknames for ferrets
Dooking: A noise ferrets make when excited during play.
FERRET FUR COLORS
CHOCOLATE - a ferret with brown fur with a cream to white undercoat.
SABLE - a ferret with dark brown or black guard hairs and a cream to white undercoat
DARK SABLE - a ferret who is dark black over their entire body with a grey undercoat and no definate mask
CHAMPAGNE/CINNAMON - a ferret with golden yellow or reddish orange color with a cream to white undercoat
DARK EYED WHITE - (D.E.W.) a ferret who is white with dark eyes
SILVER - a ferret with salt and pepper colors
MUTT - a ferret with unusual markings
ALBINO - a ferret who is all white with red eyes
BLAZE/SHETLAND/PANDA - a ferret with a white stripe on the head between the ears, no mask, white bib on chest, and white glove appearance on all paws, and a white tip on the tail. The Blaze has white knee caps
MITT - a ferret of any color but has white paws and appears to be wearing white gloves
POINT - a ferret of any color, but points on the body such as, the hind legs and front legs are deeply defined in color
BIB - a ferret of any color, but appears to be wearing a white bib.
ROAN - a ferret of any color with lighter guard hairs.
War-Dancing: an excited ferret playing in awkward jumps, flips and bouncy movements.
WHAT IS A FERRET? A ferret is the domesticated form of the European Polecat. A mammal belonging to the weasel genus of the Mustelidae family, including the Mink, Ermine, Weasel, (Sea) Otter, Black-Footed Ferret. Skunk, Fisher, Marten, Badger, and Wolverine.
The scientific name is: Mustela Putorius Furo
DO FERRETS STINK? Ferrets do have a musky smell to them even if they have been de-scented. Keeping their bedding, litter boxes and toys clean; cleaning/wiping down the cage daily with hot soapy water with a little bleach, helps tremendously. Carpeting, if not cleaned often will also absorb and omit the oils from the ferrets skin and fur. Most ferret owners remove carpeting and replace the floor with linoleum and then place inexpensive area rugs over the linoleum. The floor is easier to clean up the accidents ferrets like to leave behind and your ferrets can play safely on area carpet rugs, that can easily be replaced.
Exhaust fans and air purifiers also can help keep the air clean and fresh in the room you house them in. If you have a window in their room, you can open the window, but take precaution! Keep everything and anything away from the window your ferret may climb onto to get to the window screen. They are very persistent and will claw their way through a screen window or door in a matter of minutes.
Your ferret and home DOES NOT HAVE TO STINK!
Simply keep things clean!
LEARN YOUR FERRETS BEHAVIOR! ANY CHANGE, MEANS SOMETHING IS WRONG. IMMEDIATELY, TAKE YOUR FERRET TO SEE YOUR FERRET FRIENDLY VETERINARIAN. FERRETS DEHYDRATE QUICKLY WHEN SOMETHING IS WRONG AND DO GO DOWN QUICKLY. WAITING A DAY OR TWO COULD RESULT IN THE UNNECESSARY DEATH OF YOUR FERRET.
BEFORE adopting/buying a ferret, here are things you should CONSIDER.
If you are planning any of the ABOVE, a Ferret may not be for you.
WE CAN HELP YOU!
WE CAN ANSWER MOST OF YOUR QUESTIONS AND PREPARE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY WITH BRINGING HOME YOUR NEW FERRET!
FERRETS & TIME...
Plan on spending at least one hour, once or twice a day with your ferret. Ferrets are very interactive with their other ferret companions, humans, their surroundings, are easily excitable, gregarious, and will investigate everything. They WILL get themselves into serious trouble unless they are supervised. Ferrets do entertain and amuse themselves when you are not around. Ferrets need to bond and interact with their owners for socialization and for their mental and physical health. Ferrets are usually happiest in groups of two or more. It is in their nature to run, flip, prance, wrestle, bounce off walls, leap into the air, and explore their surroundings. When they get tired, they will pile on top of each other or even on your lap. Each ferret has their own unique personality and are quiet, friendly, curious, determined, demanding, intelligent, and companionable. They will inspect everything you do and will attempt to assist you. They are very persistent, when trying to figure out how to escape, obtain a toy or to get a treat. If you take your ferret outdoors, be sure to keep your ferret in the shade and NEVER leave them unsupervised. They are prey to hawks, coyotes, dogs and other wild life. Use a play pen or keep them on a leash. Ferrets can not be subjected to temperatures over 75 degrees and can reach heat exhaustion in a matter of minutes.
RECOMMENDATION: You can block areas off with baby gates that ferrets can not climb over, use a ferret play pen or you can even dedicate a room in your home for your ferret to play in. Ferret proofing the room is essential to keeping your ferrets safe from harm and escaping. Ferrets like change in their environment. Switching the room furniture around and or changing their toys around, tends to excite them. Always be aware of where you place furniture and other items that a ferret may be able to climb. They are escape artists and are quick to figure things out. They love to run through plastic dryer tubes, play in paper bags ( no plastic bags ), boxes, cat crinkle sacks, short standing cat furniture, small stuffed animals (remove any plastic eyes or buttons), balls, and blankets to crawl under or snuggle in. NEVER GIVE YOUR FERRET RUBBER TOYS. They will chew the rubber into tiny pieces, which causes blockage in their intestines and in turn, will most likely need surgery to remove the rubber pieces.
FERRET PROOFING: MAKING THE PLAY AREA FOR YOUR FERRET A SAFE ENVIRONMENT
You will need to budget for vaccinations, vacations (boarding expenses) and other routine veterinary care and surgeries. Your ferret will need food, litter, bedding, toys, shampoo's and some over the counter medications.
You can expect to pay anywhere between $400 to $500 for an adrenal tumor surgery. These surgeries are highly successful.
RECOMMENDATION: ALWAYS, keep on hand, pepto bismol, karo syrup, Ferret Tone, Ferret Vite, Ferret laxative, Preparation H and electrolytes. Feed your ferret, food made for ferrets, not cat or dog food. Ferrets require high protein foods to maintain their health.
COMPATIBILITY WITH CHILDREN...
A ferret is a very DEMANDING pet for a child and does require
PARENTAL SUPERVISION. The child must understand that a ferret is not a cat or a dog and how a ferret behaves. Ferrets can not land on all four feet, like a cat and certainly will not sit still on command like a dog. The child must be capable and old enough to handle the responsibility of playing and caring for the ferret. Ferrets ARE NOT RECOMMENDED as a pet for children younger than 8 years old. Very close supervision is a MUST around infants and babies.
COMPATIBILITY WITH OTHER PETS...
Ferrets are naturally hunters. Ferrets can not be trained to get along with birds, rabbits, rodents, snakes or lizards. If you have any of these animals in your home, vigilant supervision is required at all times. Ferrets can generally be trained to get along with cats and some dogs. Do not try to train your ferret to get along with dogs that are originally bred to hunt.
RECOMMENDATION: Introduce your ferret and other pet gradually. Allow them to smell each other, while reassuring them. Take your time. Slowly and gradually, allow actual contact between your ferret and the other pet and always with another person Feed them separately and do not allow your ferret to play with your other pets toys. No matter how well your pets seem to get along, always be sure to supervise their play time together.
Ferrets must be taught not to nip or bite. A ferret will usually not be vicious or aggressive. When ferrets play, they perform a mock combat. Ferrets play with their mouths open and grab with their teeth and play bite. Ferrets do not understand what hurts you until you teach your ferret the boundaries. Ferrets do react to fear, pain or unexpected noises or actions by biting. Your ferret is not biting to hurt you, it is simply defending itself and letting you know it is afraid. Spending time daily with your ferret will help build a bond and trust with you. Once your ferret trusts you, does not necessarily mean it will trust someone else.
Ferrets love feet and ankles! Always wear socks when around ferrets.
RECOMMENDATION: DO NOT EVER HIT YOUR FERRET!
It will encourage biting and by law, is Animal Abuse.
Make sounds of crying and use words like "No and "Ouch". Your ferret will learn not to be so aggressive. Be patient, it will learn to trust you. Always supervise when other family and guests meet your ferret. New smells, noise and excitement can cause your ferret to react with a nip or a firm bite.
Ferrets sleep on average 18-20 hours a day. The cage should be large enough for bedding, a litter box, a food and water area, and stretching.
NEVER USE A GLASS TANK OR AQUARIUM. It's like cooking your ferret!
If you are using a cage with a wire bottom floor, cover the wire floor up by placing a smooth hard surface on top of it. You can easily find something in a hardware store that will work. This will protect your ferrets paws from cracking and bleeding. Some ferret owners allow their ferret to FREE ROAM the house. This is NOT RECOMMENDED, unless you can positively FERRET PROOF your home. Ferrets love to dig and borrow. They will dig up your plants, and borrow into your couch or recliner. They will smell electrical sockets with their wet noses, chew your electrical cords, climb your curtains and escape through open doors and windows.
RECOMMENDATION: There are suitable ferret cages you can easily purchase on the internet. Keep the cage away from windows. The sunlight can over heat your ferret. If you decide to let your ferret FREE ROAM your home, cover the electrical sockets with electric socket covers. NEVER sit on your furniture until you verify where your ferret has chosen to nap and never assume the ferret did not get out the door when it was open. Use gates to block the kitchen area off to avoid your ferret from getting into cabinets where toxic cleaning chemicals are stored or climbing inside your stove/oven and backs of refrigerators where the motor fan runs. Always check your laundry basket before putting your laundry in the washer or dryer, in case your ferret decided to nap in the basket. Always put your ferret in a cage or secure room when company comes over. Your company is not in the habit of checking for a ferret below their feet, before they sit down or walk out your door.
Ferrets can be trained to use the litter box. Place a litter box in the corner of the cage. Leave a small amount of dirty litter in the pan for a while to help your ferret understand that it is the place to do their duty. Placing bedding, or a toy box in corners of the room can also discourage the ferret from using them as a bathroom spot/area. You can place litter boxes in these corners the ferret is choosing to soil. Ferrets do make mistakes when involved in play and wait last minute and will stop in mid play and go. Ferrets do show signs that they need to use the litter box. Some will run with their tail curled up or suddenly stop in mid play and squat.
RECOMMENDATION: Always use positive reinforcement when litter box training. Pick them up and place them in the litter box when they first wake up. Learning your ferrets behavior, will help you litter box train. Put litter boxes in the areas the ferret is choosing to do its duty.
NOTE: Always make note of the ferrets urine and stool. If the stool becomes thin, watery or has blood in it, it is an immediate visit to the veterinarian. Remember, it is a red flag when your ferrets normal behavior changes. It will be time for a visit with the veterinarian.
DO NOT USE CAT LITTER OR WOOD SHAVINGS FOR LITTER.
You can use wood pellets for litter. Main hardware stores always have it in supply. It is safe and costs significantly less then cat litter. The dust from cat litter and wood shavings can cause respiratory issues and complications for your ferret.
BATHING YOUR FERRET...
Most ferrets do not like getting baths. They will twist their bodies and pull and struggle the entire time. You should only give your ferret a bath once every three to four months, unless your ferret got themselves into something that requires a bath. Bathing tends to dry out the skin and coat and the more you bath them, the musky smell actually becomes stronger. The natural oils are washed away and stimulates an increase of the skin oils. You can give your ferret a bath in the sink. Using the bath tub will certainly give you a back ache. Many ferret owners purchase two litter boxes, one for shampooing and one for rinsing. Kitchen dish pans work just as well. The water temperature should be luke warm; a temperature you would give your baby a bath in. After their bath, ferrets will run, slide their bodies on the floor, and shake off the access water, just like a dog would.
By simply keeping your ferret bedding, toys, litter boxes and cage clean, you will avoid frequent baths. Use a shampoo for ferrets. It is specifically made for their type of fur and skin. Using shampoos made for humans or other animals, may cause irritation to your ferrets skin. You can use a shampoo made for babies. Have a towel ready to dry your ferret. Removing the access water and drying your ferret off as much as you can before you let them run around will help prevent them from getting sick.
Be prepared to trim your ferrets nails approximately every two weeks. Nails that are not trimmed will crack, split, or break off completely, which could lead to infection and a lot of pain for your ferret. Untrimmed nails get caught in bedding, blankets, carpet and even some cages. When the ferrets nail gets caught on something, they try to free themselves by flipping and twisting their bodies, causing intense pain for your ferret. you will hear a screaming pitch cry. If they can not free themselves, they will exhaust themselves and the pain and stress they endure can sadly over come them.
Use the right type of nail trimmer, such as one for a cat. The safest way to trim your ferrets nails is to lay them on your lap, put some ferret tone on their belly and let them lick it up, while you trim away at each nail. The first time you put ferret tone on your ferrets belly, many react by jumping up quickly and could easily fall to the floor. Be prepared to catch your ferret. Your ferret will eventually get use to it and will anxiously wait for you to put the ferret tone on their belly. Ferret Tone is a favorite sweet treat filled with vitamins for your ferret. Be sure to avoid the "QUICK" or the vascular part of the nail. Trim nails under a bright light so that you can see and trim slightly above the "QUICK." If you trim too close and cause the "QUICK" to bleed, immediately use your finger to put pressure on the nail and hold for as long as your ferret will allow, or until the bleeding stops. Place styptic or cornstarch on the end of the bleeding nail. When the nails are properly trimmed, their weight should rest on their pads and you should not hear the nails click when walking on hard floors.
DO NOT ALLOW A CHILD TO TRIM YOUR FERRETS NAILS.
How often should you clean your ferrets ears? It depends on how quickly the ears accumulate dirt and wax. Some ferrets require weekly ear cleanings while others go two weeks or more before they need an ear cleaning. Generally, if your ferrets ears are visibly dirty, it is time to clean them. Ears that are not cleaned regularly will develop problems such as ear mites or infections. If your ferret has a coffee-grind type discharge and is scratching at their head and ears, it most likely has ear mites. If the ear mites are untreated, a secondary infection will occur. If your ferrets ears have a strong order, most likely your ferret has an infection. Ferrets occasionally develop bacterial infections in their ears.
Have your ferrets ears checked during your regular veterinary check up. If you suspect your ferret has ear mites, take your ferret in to see your vet.
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR FERRETS EARS...
Always clean your ferrets ears while sitting down.
Although you feel you have your ferret safely scruffed, your ferret will suddenly jerk, turn and twist and will get loose from your grip. Sometimes with just one jerk. Your ferret will fall to the floor which could lead to fractured or broken bones, paralysis or death. Prepare a place to clean your ferrets ears with clean Q-tips, ferret ear cleaning solution and a paper towel for soiled q-tips. Sit down, carefully scruff your ferret or have some one else scruff your ferret. At times, three people are needed; the third person to offer the ferret some ferret tone while one cleans the ears and the other one scruffs the ferret. Dip the q-tips in the ear cleaning solution and use two clean fingers to squeeze the excess solution out of the cotton swap. Gently swap the ear pockets until the ear wax is removed. When cleaning the ear canal, USE THE COTTON SWAP AS YOUR GUIDE. When you no longer see the cotton on the q-tip, stop and then swab upwards towards the back of the inside pocket of the ear lobe. Then use a clean dry q-tip to absorb any solution or loose ear wax left behind. A quick ear massage and a treat afterwards, helps your ferret to quickly forget about the ear cleaning experience.
Multiple markings on a ferret is considered a MUTT. Take notice of the 1/2 dark marking between the eyes, blaze marking on the head, white on the tip of the paw and a white bib marking under the chin/neck area, including roan guard hairs.
This ferret has lost most of it's fur except around the face, due to being adrenal.
SEE COMMON AILMENTS ABOVE.
D.E.W. - Dark Eyed White
Ferrets are: playful, very curious, and intelligent
Ferrets are often called:
Bottle Brush: When the tail fluffs up during play or a good massage