9 Signs of a Sick Ferret

white ferret in a sea of yellow and white balls

Has your ferret suddenly had a change in behavior? Are you worried that he might be ill? Well, there are various signs of a sick ferret. However, some of these symptoms could indicate a list of illnesses. Thus, you should always take your ferret to your local vet before you can self-diagnose your ferret.

Before I list 9 of the most common signs that a ferret is sick, I must mention that these pets are usually healthy. With proper care and regular health checks, you should be able to enjoy a full life span with your ferret. They will live up to 7 years but other ferrets have lived for over 10 years!

This means that a ferret is not a pet that you will be getting rid of soon. It is a pet you will bond with and create a beautiful companionship with. Well then, let us highlight some of the signs of a sick ferret that you should be looking out for:

What are the signs of a Sick Ferret? 9 signs to look out for

  1. Diarrhea and vomiting
  2. Seizures
  3. Loss of weight
  4. Hair loss
  5. In pain
  6. Skin rashes
  7. Lethargic
  8. Sleeping too long
  9. Bad breath

Diarrhea and vomiting

As with humans, these two symptoms will pop up in almost every ferret illness. So, as I have indicated above, you will need to keep an eye at your ferret if you have observed diarrhea or vomiting. Several reasons could explain why your ferret is experiencing diarrhea.

Have you recently changed your ferret’s food? Maybe you didn’t have enough kibble food for him and you mixed it up with something else. While this is completely safe, it could make your ferret have diarrhea. Given that his digestive system has not adapted to the new food.

At this point, I must caution you against feeding your ferret the same food over and over again. While he will be okay and happy with that, it also means that he cannot eat any other food. Therefore, it is safe to introduce your ferret to different types of food.

For instance, if you have been using the same type of food, talk to your vet and figure out how you can start using different foods. If diarrhea is a result of dietary changes, it should subside within a few days. However, if it persists, you should probably talk to your vet to rule out any serious illnesses.

On the other hand, vomiting is quite rare in ferrets. However, when it happens, it is usually never good news. It could be as a result of an underlying secondary illness. If you just noticed that your ferret is vomiting, monitor him closely.

Well, if you have given him raw meat in the place of his usual food, he could start vomiting the day after. It could be that he has contracted a bacterial infection. The gastrointestinal obstruction could also make your ferret vomit.


Now, if your ferret has suddenly started experiencing a seizure, you should be very concerned. It is a common symptom in ferrets with insulinoma. It is also known as hypoglycemia whereby the pancreas produces more insulin than it should. In return, your ferret will have very low blood sugar.

However, you cannot tell that your ferret has insulinoma without visiting your vet. They will conduct a simple blood sugar test based on the history of your ferret.

Having seizures has also been identified in ferrets suffering from canine distemper. Since these are two serious illnesses, it is therefore obvious that you should not ignore this symptom. Take your ferret to the vet immediately for consultation and to determine why your ferret could be having seizures.

Sudden loss of weight

As with vomiting and diarrhea, sudden loss of weight is never a good thing. Have you been feeding your ferret but he won’t gain any weight? Instead, he is losing weight as time goes by? Well, I think you should visit your vet and examine your fuzzy ferret.

Several illnesses in ferrets will have this as a symptom. Thus, it is almost impossible for you to figure it out on your own. For instance, insulinoma is characterized by a sudden loss of weight. And so does many other illnesses such as lymphoma and dilated cardiomyopathy.

Monitor your ferret’s feeding habits. If you identify loss of appetite as well, maybe he has anorexia. Once again, there are so many illnesses that could be causing anorexia in ferrets. Gastrointestinal obstruction is at the front line in terms of illnesses causing a ferret to fail to eat.

Do not forget that distress could also cause sudden weight loss. Thus, it is especially important to keep new ferrets in a comfortable and secure place until they adapt to you and the new environment.

Your vet will examine your ferret for other symptoms before giving you a conclusive diagnosis. He may run some lab tests based on the symptoms your ferret presents.

 Signs of a Sick Ferret. Hair loss in ferrets

Ferrets will shed their hair twice a year. They will shed their summer coat in preparation for winter. This is quite normal and he will grow a thicker coat before winter. The same case happens when we are about to get to summer; he will shed the thick coat and grow a lighter one.

However, if your ferret has suddenly started shedding hair out of the blue, you might want to pay more attention to him. Observe his overall behavior from feeding to sleeping. Does anything seem amiss? If your ferret is not shedding his coat for seasonal reasons, then you are looking at a more serious problem.

Well, lymphoma is the most common cancerous illness in ferrets, followed by the disease of the adrenal glands, which is also cancerous. These are the two common illnesses that could make your ferret lose his hair. It will start from the tail up and your ferret could lose hair on his entire body.

So if your ferret is losing hair, take him to the vet. They will be able to examine and also diagnose your ferret. Well, it is only fair to say that one symptom is not enough to conclude that your ferret has adrenal glands disease. For instance, if your ferret has this illness you might notice other symptoms such as the swollen vulva and prostatic inflammation.

Well, if your ferret is losing hair, you should take him to the vet to determine the exact cause.

Constant pain

Ferrets are excellent at hiding their pain. Well, it is somehow their nature as it is a safety step. For instance, in the wild, a ferret cannot openly display any signs of pain. It would make them vulnerable to predators in the wild.

However, you will be able to tell when your ferret is in severe pain. Well, that is if you do spend some time with him out of the cages. There could be so many reasons why your ferret is in pain. For instance, if your ferret has recently had surgery, it can be a painful next few days. However, the pain will subside and you will have your ferret back.

However, if your ferret cries (which you will notice because it is more of screams) when you touch him, well, you should take some time to examine him. If you have two ferrets, they could have gotten in a fight and injured one another.

If your ferret is jumpy or acts defensively when you touch certain parts of his body, it is an indication that he is in pain. Well, your vet will be able to tell the cause of pain. Ferrets with underlying secondary infections could also have constant pain.

Do not ignore cries of pain from your ferret.

Skin rashes in ferrets

If your ferret is not losing hair naturally and appears to have skin rashes all over their body, you could be dealing with something serious. In some cases, conditions such as lymphoma are likely to cause skin rashes.

When was the last time you treated your ferrets against fleece? Well, if you have not done so recently, your ferret is likely infested with external parasites. Also, internal parasites such as ringworms could give your ferret skin rashes.

Your vet will give you medication to treat your ferret against internal parasites. Well, you should also treat your ferret against fleece at least once a month especially if he interacting with other pets. Treat all your household pets against this illness.

Skin rashes can be an indication of parasites such as ticks, ear mites, and sometimes the canine distemper. This illness will form crusty patches on your ferret’s face and footpads.


If you have studied the common ferret illnesses, I am sure lethargy has appeared under each one. Well, it is normal to observe general body weakness in a sick ferret. However, I always advise ferret owners to keenly observe their pet ferrets while looking for other symptoms.

Well, a lethargic ferret will find it difficult to lead a normal life. If you have watched a healthy ferret play around his cage, you will identify when there is a slight change. A healthy ferret is playful and very active. I mean, he can run around his cage for so long without stopping.

Has your ferret been sleeping for way too long without interest to do anything else, then you could have a problem. He might not be interested in playing or socializing with you. Well, you should take your ferret to the vet to determine the reason behind lethargy.

Too much sleep

Ferrets love to sleep. In fact, they will sleep for 18-20 hours while baby ferrets can go up to 22 hours! Therefore, it can be quite easy to assume that it is all normal. Well, it is not. Sleeping for longer than usual could be a sign that your ferret is sick.

As I mentioned above, one symptom cannot dictate the illness to what your ferret is suffering from. However, sleeping for longer than usual can be a sign of insulinoma. Well, as with diabetes in humans, insulinoma will affect all aspects of your ferret’s life.

Observe and monitor your ferret for other symptoms of an illness. Note that a ferret can sleep for 6 straight hours and that’s normal. You could try to wake him up and he will not until he is rested enough. This is usually known as the ferret dead sleep.

However, if you notice a change in his sleep cycle, your ferret could be sick. Well, as I have repeatedly indicated, your vet is the only one who can provide you with a conclusive diagnosis.

Bad breath

Well, when was the last time you brushed your ferret’s teeth? Most ferret owners do not remember to care for their ferrets. As a result, he could develop bad breath from all the plaque between his teeth. However, ignoring dental care in ferrets could lead to serious dental problems. In some cases, ferrets have lost their teeth.

Note that the kibble diet is healthy for your ferret. However, it neglects the health of their teeth, which now becomes your responsibility. If your ferret has bad breath, you can take him to the vet for teeth scaling.

You should also purchase a toothbrush and toothpaste for your ferret. This way, you can brush his teeth to minimize plaque build-up.


Ferrets, as I have mentioned multiple times, are very healthy animals. Most ferret illnesses are preventable with proper care. However, if your ferret is exhibiting some of the above outlines signs, it could mean that he is sick.

I advise you to consult your vet if you suspect that your ferret is sick. Do not forget to take him to the vet once a year and twice a year for the older ferrets.

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