Ferrets are loved by their caretakers. They thrill us with their antics. Most households with a ferret enjoy watching them so much they soon have three to four ferrets. Watching the interaction of these social creatures both with other ferrets and with us is such a pleasurable experience.
Ferrets are often added to a household with the concept that they are low maintenance pets. This is an unfortunate falsehood, however. Ferrets who do not receive regular veterinarian care and health screens starting at six months of age are generally dead within three to five years. With proper care, ferrets often live nine to ten years.
All young ferrets less than a year are generally purchased from a pet store. These ferrets have been vaccinated usually with a single vaccine between five to eight weeks of age for distemper. They are usually sold as having been vaccinated, but unless they receive a second booster between ten and fourteen weeks, these ferrets do not have any protection.
Common causes of death in ferrets
The most common cause of death in ferrets is cancer. We have seen ferrets as young as six months of age with cancer. The majority of ferrets will deal with cancer between the ages of two and four. Any ferret living beyond five years of age that has not dealt with cancer is a rarity. The good news is many of these cancers may be treated with a high degree of success. The common cancers seen in ferrets are
Routine physicals will not show these cancers until they are advanced. We recommend health screening for all ferrets on a regular interval.
Common chronic problems in ferrets
There are a variety of problems that will cause chronic illness for our ferrets
Diarrhea associated with weight loss and often poor appetite
Weight loss with poor appetite (a multitude of causes)
Splenomegaly, enlargement of the spleen
Cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that eventually leads to death.