If you have a ferret that is deaf, then you may need to adapt the way you care for it. But only slightly. If you have hearing ferrets as well, then there is no reason why they cannot all live together in harmony. In some cases, you may find that the ferrets fight or do not get along but this is unlikely to do with deafness and is more likely related to a clash of personalities.
In this guide, we will be looking at how to tell whether your ferret is deaf and how best to take care of your pet.
How Common Is Deafness In Ferrets?
Surprisingly, deafness in ferrets is more common than one may be led to believe. A condition known as Waardenburg syndrome is one of the most common causes of ferret hearing loss and this is more likely to affect ferrets with white patches on their head.
In fact, according to ferret experts, as many as 75% of these animals that have panda or blaze colorations may be affected by this condition. Waardenburg syndrome affects the development of the hearing mechanism and is prevalent in both humans and other animals, including the ferret.
How To Tell If My Ferret Is Deaf
Since your ferret can’t tell you whether it can hear or not, it is down to you, as the owner, to determine whether the animal can hear. There are several ways that you can check if your ferret can hear you but one of the most important things to keep in mind is not to startle your pet. Deaf ferrets may be easily scared if you suddenly sneak up on them so when trying our first tip for checking your ferret’s hearing, be sure to be gentle in your approach.
- Check if your ferret responds to you. It can be helpful to talk to your ferret and see how he responds to your voice. If he doesn’t respond at all, then this might be a sign that he is hard of hearing. Another key sign here is that the ferret doesn’t respond to other audio stimuli.
- When your ferret is sleeping, approach it carefully and make some gentle sounds. If your ferret doesn’t rouse then there is a good chance that it is deaf.
- If you have any suspicion that your ferret is struggling with deafness then you should have this checked by your vet who can make an official diagnosis.
Tips For Caring For A Deaf Ferret
As we have already mentioned, you should aim to approach your deaf ferret carefully to avoid startling it. But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to looking after your deaf ferret. Take a look at our top tips to ensure your pet has a comfortable and happy life, regardless of his hearing ability.
Monitoring Play Time
For owners with more than one ferret, it is important to keep an eye on how they interact with one another. The problem is that deaf ferrets may be a little more feisty when it comes to playtime. This isn’t because they are particularly vicious but more to do with the fact that they cannot read the cues of their furry friends.
In most cases, ferrets will make sounds to communicate with each other especially when trying to tell their mates that they have had enough of playtime. However, a deaf ferret cannot hear this communication and may continue with rough play, upsetting the other ferrets.
But your deaf ferret can’t help it. He’s not trying to be purposefully rough so the best thing to do is separate the ferrets giving the others a chance to get away.
Training Your Deaf Ferret
Many people are under the false impression that a deaf ferret cannot be trained. But just because he has lost his hearing, this doesn’t mean that he isn’t smart. These intelligent little creatures can still be trained but owners must have a little more patience and be prepared to use some less than traditional training methods.
One of the most common ways to train a deaf ferret is to use vibrations on the ground. However, to make things easier you might opt for hand signals. You can teach your ferret to obey the same commands you would teach a hearing ferret but rather than giving vocal cues, you’ll give visual ones. When your ferret responds positively to your requests, offer a treat to reinforce this behavior.
Be Prepared For Noise
When humans are deaf, they may often make noises simply because they do not realize they are doing so. This might include grunting or moaning and this is exactly the same in deaf ferrets. It doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with the animal, it is simply blissfully unaware of its vocalizations, so it’s nothing to worry about.
Moreover, it has been noticed that deaf ferrets tend to make more noise and much more of a fuss when they want something. This may be a way that they have adapted to communicate and can include loud vocalizing to alert you to their needs as well as a heightened physical activity like jumping up and down. This is not a characteristic you would typically see in a hearing ferret.
Bonding With Your Ferret
One of the most important things to think about when you are looking after a deaf ferret is that the animal may be slightly more timid and so bonding with your pet is more crucial than normal. This can be done in several ways but the easiest is to spend time with your pet.
Once again, we must stress that when approaching your ferret, you should do this so that he has plenty of warning of your presence. Then you can make an increased effort to handle and pet him to make him feel secure and comfortable.
Deaf ferrets, much like humans, will appreciate the other senses being stimulated so taking your pet out for a walk on a leash is a great way to do this. What’s more, it gives you the chance to spend extra time with him.
While your deaf ferret will appreciate additional human affection, it is important to let any visitors to your home know that the ferret is deaf and not to approach it without your assistance.
Ferrets are unfortunately prone to deafness, especially those with panda or blaze markings thanks to a condition called Waardenburg syndrome. However, just because your ferret is deaf, this doesn’t mean that he needs any special care although there are some things that you will need to do slightly differently to make your pet feel secure and safe.
Bonding with your ferret is hugely important and there is even the possibility of training it using visual cues as opposed to spoken ones.
If you have any concerns about your pet’s hearing then you should book an appointment to see your vet who will be able to confirm any problems and offer the most appropriate advice.