Harlan Animal Hospital

Ferret Care


Ferret Facts

Weight (Female): 1.5 - 2.25lbs {.75 - 2.5lbs}

Weight (Male): 1.75 - 6 lbs {2 - 5 lbs}

Typical Life Span: 5-8 years

Total Length: Female: 18 inches, Male: 24 inches (including tail)
If curiosity killed the cat, then curiosity must have run ferrets down with a cement truck. Their insatible curiosity gets ferrets into more trouble that you can imagine. Ferrets have been known to climb into refrigerators, dryers, washing machines, dish washers, under couch cushions, under the floor mat by the door, under the bed sheets, up to the very top of the patio door screen... the list is endless and frequently such activities have ended in tragedy whether the ferrets succumbed to hypothermia in the fridge or were stepped on while under the floor mat. Never underestimate your ferret's ability to get into trouble.

Ferrets can be maintained on high quality foods such as Totally Ferret or Marshall Farms Ferret Food. Ferrets should have food available at all times. Treats may be offered in very limited quantities. Do not feed milk or foods rich in sugars (cookies, candy) or carbohydrates (breads, pastas, rice or cereals). Chocolate can be fatal to your ferret. Cooked eggs and meat make good treats. Fruits and vegetables should be fed sparingly because ferrets cannot digest fiber very well. Vitamin supplements are not necessary if your pet is on a good quality diet.

Hairball Prevention
The accumulation of hair in the stomach of the ferret is a very common occurrence and may result in an obstruction. It is easy to prevent hairballs with the use of a cat hairball laxative twice weekly. This medication acts as a lubricant to help your ferret pass the hairballs and most ferrets think of it as a treat.

Ferrets should be caged or kept in a "ferret proofed" area of your home when you are not home to supervise them and at night when you are asleep. They are sensitive to heat stroke therefore their environment needs to be at or below 80 degrees F (27 degrees C) and in a well ventilated area. Most ferrets sleep a majority of the time and do not mind being caged. Ferrets should never be housed in a glass fish aquarium due to lack of air circulation and moisture buildup on the glass bottom. This excess moisture can lead to bacterial and fungal infections on the skin and in the lungs (can lead to death).  Ferrets like to sleep in towels, shirts, etc. When the ferret is outside of his/her cage, care must be taken so that he/she does not become trapped or lost. It is advisable to "ferret-proof" your home by closing as many small openings as you can before letting your pet roam and explore. Ferrets can be litter box trained about 90% of the time. A small low sided box should be placed in the corner of the cage, and fragrance free kitty litter or recycled pelleted newspaper litter is recommended. 

Ferrets can be bathed with a shampoo made for ferrets, or products that are safe for kittens. Ferrets should not be bathed more than every 2 to 3 weeks. If ferrets are bathed frequently their skin becomes dry and itchy and can result in overproduction of oils causing them to smell more.
Ferrets nails can be trimmed in the same manner as a dog or cat. Ferrets should not be declawed.
Ferrets get fleas like other animals. Fleas can transmit other parasites, such as tapeworms, cause severe skin irritation, itching, hair loss, and anemia in severe cases. Do not use flea collars on ferrets, and remember to treat the environment as well as the pet. Ask your veterinarian about effective flea control products that are safe for your pet. 1/5 to ? vial of feline frontline may be used to control fleas.

Never give your ferret rubber or foam toys. Ferrets like to chew and swallow these items, which could result in a gastrointestinal obstruction and death. Safe toys are ping pong balls, golf balls, paper bags, cardboard mailing tubes, and nylon dog bones. Ferrets also love to crawl through tunnels (i.e. large PVC pipes).

Ferret Health Care
Ferrets are susceptible to canine distemper and Aleutian mink disease. In addition, they can come down with flu-like symptoms or respiratory illnesses, similar to the "common cold", which can be transmitted by human companions. Ferrets are susceptible to several strains of human influenza virus. They develop symptoms similar to those in people. The disease is especially harmful to young or immunosuppressed ferrets. To decrease the chance of transmission, avoid playing with your ferret when you have a cold or are sick with the flu.
Older ferrets can develop diseases. Most commonly seen are diseases of the adrenal glands and pancreas. Signs of an adrenal gland disorder include hair loss, muscle atrophy, urinary blockage in males, and enlarged vulva in females. Signs of pancreatic disease include lethargy, nausea, and seizures. Veterinary treatment of these diseases can keep a ferret happy and playful and extend their life expectancy.
Any digestive problem (changes in bowel routine, extreme weight gain or loss, vomiting) a ferret experiences is potentially serious. The best way to prevent these problems is to keep the ferret in an environment that is clean and free of dangerous objects. Foam packaging peanuts, rubber chew toys, erasers, rubber bands, latex, or plastic items should be kept away from the ferret.
An annual visit to a ferret-knowledgeable veterinarian helps to identify potential problems early. This yearly visit should include a careful physical exam, inspection of the ears for mites, and inspection of the teeth. Dental cleanings should be performed as necessary. Ferrets should be immunized for Rabies and Canine Distemper using only vaccines approved for use in ferrets. A test for Aleutian Disease Virus should be done at least once a year to ensure that your ferret is not carrying this highly contagious and potentially fatal disease.





Harlan Animal Hospital
2762 S U.S. Highway 119

P.O. Box 1090
Loyall, Kentucky 40854

Office Hours
Monday - Friday: 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.