Rabies is a scary disease to deal with. The good news is that ferrets rarely suffer from this illness. In fact, there has been only a handful of cases reported of ferret rabies. While it is possible for your ferret to get infected with rabies, they do not carry the disease. So, Do Ferrets Carry Rabies?
There have been 20 cases of ferret rabies reported since 1954. However, it should not serve as an exemption to ferrets contracting the disease. In this article, we are going to look at the instances in which your ferret can get infected with rabies. Besides, we will look at the signs and symptoms of this illness.
Can my ferret contract rabies?
This is quite a controversial question because ferrets are mammals. It means that yes if a ferret comes into contact with an infected animal, there is a chance that he could get infected. Well, this illness is rare in ferrets mainly because they are domesticated pets. Furthermore, they spend most of their lives in cages, which limits the chances of interacting with other pets and animals.
However, if you live in an area that has had reports of rabies in other animals, then you should be careful. I have mentioned multiple times that ferrets are escape artists. I mean, if you accidentally leave a window open and let him out of the cage, he could climb and run out.
While you risk losing him completely, you also risk having your ferret getting infected. Ferrets will rarely associate with wildlife or the outdoor life itself. However, if he does run off to interact with wildlife, in an area prone to rabies, chances are that he will get infected.
If you do have other pets such as dogs and cats, ensure that you have them all vaccinated. Ferrets should get a vaccination shot against rabies at the age of 3 months and then annually thereafter.
What are the symptoms that my ferret has rabies?
While ferrets do not carry rabies, exposure to the virus, usually from other animals, can infect him. Well, as I have mentioned above, you must have your ferret vaccinated against the virus. It is unlikely for a vaccinated ferret to get infected with the rabies virus.
Understand that rabies is very fatal for ferrets. And it can be transmitted to other pets and people handling the infected animal. Therefore, you must be watchful to keep your ferret safe. It may not occur but it is possible.
Some of the symptoms of rabies include disorientation, abnormal aggression, and erratic behavior. For instance, you could be playing with your ferret and he suddenly bites or scratches you. Other signs include irritability, roaming aimlessly in his cage or when let out. An infected ferret will keep trying to escape from his cage.
Sometimes an infected ferret could also experience seizures.
What should I do if my ferret has all the signs of rabies?
If you observe these signs, you must call it in immediately. And because rabies can easily be transmitted to human beings, you should visit your doctor, especially if you came into contact with his saliva. Ask anyone else who has cared for your ferret if they have been scratched. If so, they should also visit a doctor for treatment.
Now, if your ferret has tried attacking you or has suffered some of the above symptoms, I suggest you call your vet. However, in the meantime, you should keep him quarantined and do not allow any of your other pets to come in contact with them.
If he was out of the cage and started exhibiting erratic or aggressive behavior, close the doors and call animal control. They will capture your ferret and keep him under observation.
Is rabies treatable in ferrets?
Now, you will need to take your ferret to the vet care center if you think he has rabies. Sadly, the only way to confirm rabies is to keep them under surveillance for about 10 days. In most cases, ferrets, or other pets do not recover from rabies within this period.
Your vet will have to conduct blood tests to determine whether your ferret has the rabies virus.
Because the rabies virus is both fatal and dangerous, you are required to report this to your local health offices. Also, if your ferret survives rabies, the symptoms will eventually persist. Your vet might have to put him to sleep.
The best way to handle rabies is to vaccinate your ferret and other pets, annually as required. Also, ensure that your pets do not associate with wildlife animals. It is best to keep your ferret in the house and ferret proof your house to allow room for play.
While I would consider rabies very rare in ferrets, you should not ignore any of the stated symptoms. It could happen and so call your vet immediately. However, aggression and disorientation are not signs of rabies only. Other illnesses could be associated with this problem.
Our Final Thoughts.
As mentioned in the About Us page on this site my son Bobby Grover and I have been breeders and owners of ferrets for all of our adult lives.
During this time we have never come across a Ferret being infected with rabies.
What we are here to do is give the very best advice on keeping ferrets and in the past have been asked the question Do Ferrets Carry Rabies.