Ferret Footnotes

Monthly Newsletter of the
Ferret Lovers' Club of Texas



The February meeting covered various common ferret symptoms, using the Ferret First Aid booklet, written by Ann Davis and Jean Wardell, DVM, copyright ACME Ferret Company, September 1996. The following is excerpted from this booklet. For a full copy of this booklet, please contact FLC-TX.

Animal Bites/Deep Puncture Wounds: Clean the affected area with hydrogen peroxide. Do not apply any ointment to an injury which penetrates the full skin thickness. May be life-threatening - consult your vet!

Animal Bites/Scratches: Clean the affected area with hydrogen peroxide. Do not attempt to bandage area - ferret will not tolerate it. Apply antibiotic ointment. If not noticeably improved in one day, or if condition worsens, seek medical attention.

Bleeding: If possible, stop any serious bleeding by using direct pressure and a styptic pencil or powder. May be life-threatening - consult your vet!

Breathing, Labored: Any sounds of harshness, fluid, or increased effort needed to inhale or exhale, panting, or open-mouthed breathing. May be life-threatening - consult your vet!

Broken Bones: Manifested by inability to stand without pain, support weight normally, or move or walk normally. Ferret may vocalize, cry, or make some other unusual noise when picked up. There may ve visible or internal swelling, with tenderness at the area affected. Gently wrap ferret in a bulky material such as a towel or pillowcase. A full body wrap works best. Ensure that the head is fully exposed to allow proper breathing. Seek veterinary attention immediately.

Burns, nonchemical: apply cool compress, then light application of antibiotic ointment or aloe vera gel. May be life-threatening - consult your vet!

Burns, chemical: rinse with cool water, apply cool compress, followed by light application of antibiotic ointment or aloe vera gel. May be life-threatening - consult your vet!

Constipation: signs include straining to defecate; vocalizing when trying to pass a bowel movement; scant, reduced, or absent stool volume; or thin, watery stools. Administer Laxatone or comparable furball medication every 4 hours for 3-4 doses. If no improvement noted, see your vet.

Convulsions: try giving 2-3 cc Karo syrup or honey only if the ferret is able to swallow. Ensure that the ferret cannot harm itself on hard, sharp, or dangerous objects. May be life-threatening - consult your vet!

Diarrhea: A green stool is an indication of increased rate of passage of feces through the digestive tract. Is acceptable every once in a while. A persistent green stool, or one that is bloody, mucoid, dark, sticky, or has worms or foreign material, is definitely abnormal. If diarrhea persists for over 24 hours, seek veterinary attention as serious dehydration is likely. (Editor note: see articles about ECE).

Dislocations: Swelling of any joint or limb, sometimes both. Restrict activity, or mobilize in a towel until veterinary attention can be sought.

Drooling and/or Pawing Frantically at Mouth: Symptom of an insulin-secreting tumor of the pancreas or severe stomach ulcers. Signs may be indicative of an impending crisis. See Convulsions.

Drownings: Keep ferrets away from water! They can only swim for a few minutes before succumbing to exhaustion. The amount of chlorine normally present in pools can be extremely irritating to a ferret's eyes.

Ear Injuries: May range from bites and scrapes to avulsions (tearing off of tissue). Minor wounds may be cleaned and antibiotic ointment applied. Stop overt bleeding with direct pressure. Never insert a Q-Tip deep into the ear canal, as rupture of the eardrum may result.

Electric Cord Bite/Shock: Burns of the lips and gums may ve visible. Ferret may be lying on its side having difficulty breathing. The most common consequence of electric shock is pulmonary edema (fluid accumulating in the lungs). May be life-threatening - consult your vet!

Eye Injuries: Can include scratches, perforating injuries, foreign bodies, chemical or contact corneal trauma. All are absolute medical emergencies.

Fainting or Loss of Balance: Manifested by the ferret collapsing or showing weakness that is generalized or confined to the hind limbs. Could be a cardiac or metabolic problems. Try giving 1-3 cc Karo syrup or honey only if the ferret is able to swallow. May be life-threatening - consult your vet!

Frostbite/Hypothermia: Gently massage extremities and body. Keep the warming process gradual. Heating pads may be used if kept on "low" and the ferret is checked frequently. Bluish or black discoloration of the skin or limbs is very serious. May be life-threatening - consult your vet!

Hair Loss: Rat tail, the loss of all hair on the tail, is a common sign of stress in a ferret. When the stress is eliminated, the hair will return with the next fall coat. Persistent hair loss, starting at the base of the tail and gradually moving up the back and over the entire body, may be a sign of adrenal disease, which is remedied by surgical removal of the affected adrenal gland. If left untreated, this condition will eventually lead to death.

Head Injuries: If the ferret is unconscious or bleeding from ears, nose, or mouth, keep horizontal and immobilized. Keep movement to an absolute minimum, since cervical (neck) injuries often occur along with head injuries; too much movement may result in permanent injury or paralysis. May be life-threatening - consult your vet!

Heatstroke: Never leave a ferret in an enclosed area in the sun without adequate ventilation. Never leave a ferret in the car with the windows closed...even with them open, ferrets can overheat easily. Immediately wrap in a cold, wet wash cloth. Freshen with cool water every couple of minutes. Repeat procedure until ferret's body temperature is below 103 degrees. May be life-threatening - consult your vet!

Insect Bite: Clean area with antiseptic solution. Follow with a light application of antibiotic ointment.

Itchy Skin: May be localized or generalized. The causes include dry skin, dry environment, allergies, parasites, or metabolic problems. Try bathing with mild shampoo followed by cream rinse allowing adequate skin contact time. Be sure to rinse thoroughly. If symptoms persist more than 48 hours, see your vet. (Editor note: may also be a sign of adrenal disease).

Loss of Color of Gums or Nose: Gums and nose should be pink. Pale or white gums are a serious problems. May indicate internal bleeding or shock. Conversely, gums which are bright red are the sign of a serious problem such as toxemia (overwhelming systemic infection). May be life-threatening - consult your vet!

Nose, Face, and Jaw Injuries / Nosebleeds: If nosebleed is minor, apply direct pressure using gauze tissue, etc. Nose, face, and jaw fractures or injuries are serious, and handling should be kept to a minimum. Transport ferret to the vet wrapped in a towel.

Red Blotches on the Tummy and/or Hives: Most likely an acute hypersensitivity reaction to an allergen which has been contacted or inhaled. Litter material is often a culprit. Try a different brand of litter and giving the ferret a bath.

Sneezing: Usually occurs in clusters. Causes include dust allergies or cold. It is important to know that humans can transfer the influenza virus to ferrets very easily. Therefore, if you are exhibiting the signs of a cold or the flu, use caution when handling and interacting with your ferret.

Spinal or Nerve Injuries: Symptoms may include wobbly gait, tenderness, difficulty in breathing, or inability to move front legs, rear legs, or both. May be life-threatening - consult your vet!

Sprains and Strains: Reluctant to walk or bear weight or does so abnormally or with difficulty. Confine in a pet carrier or cage and restrict activity until medical attention can be sought.

Unconsciousness: If possible, take careful note so you can tell the vet whether ferret is breathing quickly or slowly, whether the pupils are dilated or very small, whether muscles are supple or stiff, and whether ferret is responsive to voice and/or touch.

Urination Difficulties: Straining to urinate, inability to urinate, producing small amounts of urine, or abnormal color to urine. May indicate infection, bladder stones, or urinary tract blockage. May be life-threatening - consult your vet!


In a rare moment of stillness, Buddy strikes a pose and actually remains motionless for the camera. Buddy is owned by Linda Davis, FLC-TX member and show coordinator.

Would you like your ferret to be featured as a cover photo? Or published in the new handbook? Send photographs to the editor (see page 2), and with a SASE, they will be returned. Be sure to identify the ferret, and mark the photo with your name and address.


by Lori Goats, Ferret Haven Shelter Director

Most of us are great about taking care of problems as they arise. For example, when our ferrets get sick, we nurse them back to health. But what about those problems that haven't come up yet, or those that may never come up? These are the problems we tend to put on the back burner. In this article, I will discuss disaster planning for fires.

Planning for fires:

Planning for a fire is relatively easy. Because most of us are aware of the steps we can take to prevent fires, we won't take this time to discuss prevention; instead, we'll discuss preparation. The first step is to make an assessment of your home. For the sake of space, I won't indulge in how to assess your house, so visit your local fire department for information on things you should do to prevent and prepare for fires.

How to quickly get your ferrets out in a fire situation:

You should only concern yourself with getting your family and pets out of the house. Don't attempt to save supplies, cages, etc. There are two quick and efficient ways ferrets can be removed from your home. They can be removed either in a duffel bag or in a pet carrier. If you choose a duffel bag, choose one that completely closes when zipped and one without a plastic lining. If you have ferrets who are not compatible, get as many duffel bags/carriers as you need. If you have a shelter, this will need to be reassessed with each incoming ferret.

Duffel bag approach:

One bag should be a supply bag. In this bag, put enough food in a baggy or hard container that will last for a couple of days along with water bottle(s) (change the food out each month to keep it fresh). You can always go to the store for more food the next day. Just focus on the immediate needs. Our supply bag has index cards containing the names and numbers of friends/family who will house our ferrets for a short period of time in emergencies. Each card should have a different name and number on them and can be given to your neighbors so they can call these folks to pick up the ferrets immediately. The other bags you will need are carry bags. Depending on the number of ferrets you have and the number of compatible ones, you may need more than one bag. All of our bags are put into a master bag which we hang in the closet in the ferrets' room.

Carrier approach

If you have a small number of ferrets and are able to have the number of carriers you need at your immediate disposal, this is a sturdier way to remove the ferrets from your home. One carrier will need a supply bag in it as discussed in the duffel bag approach. Be certain you have the correct number of carriers available and that you can get to them in seconds.

Fire Drill:

The next step is to perform a fire drill with the entire family. A person who doesn't live in your home should assist by calling and timing the drill. Each family member is to be given a task. For example, young children should exit the house immediately and go to a neighbor to call 911. Depending on the number of older children and adults, assign tasks that each can handle in an emergency. For example, if you have someone who doesn't do well in emergencies, have them assigned to one cage only. Put your plan to the test by performing a drill. The practicality of your plan is evident once you do this. For example, we decided that using carriers is not a good idea for us because we store all our extra carriers in hard-to-reach places. It is also difficult to carry a lot of them because there are only two adults in my house. The duffel bag technique worked much better because we could quickly stuff a number of ferrets into a bag, zip it, and go. This proved to be the most effective and took the least amount of time. Be sure to personalize your plan and practice it. Everyone's family structure and ferret situations are different. If you are a shelter you will need to recheck your plan with each incoming ferret; especially if that ferret will need a separate bag/carrier.

With a little time/effort, you can have a safe haven for you and the ferrets.

From the Ferrets First Rescue and Shelter

THANK YOU! to all of those who made shelter donations at the last meeting. A special thanks goes to our ferret sponsors, too.

ANNOUNCEMENT: To help with the ever-mounting shelter expenses, I am currently looking for individuals willing to help in areas of fund-raising and public awareness/education (if you can deliver a flyer, you can help!) Committees will be formed to focus on specific events and projects in specific parts of the metroplex. If you would like to volunteer to help out, please contact Chris Snoberger at 972-255-7574 or Trish at 817-596-0558.



Emily - a light sable female, about 6 ‡ years old. She was surrendered to the shelter with her companion Rikki because her owner was moving overseas and did not want to go through the 6-month quarantine. Emily has Marshall Farms tattoos. Emily is a docile and sweet girl, but she had a rough time adjusting to life without her former mom and went through some depression. Emily also lost her companion Rikki, who passed away from adrenal complications. Due to her age and depression problems, Emily is a permanent shelter resident. Emily needs a sponsor.


Mugy - a silver mitt roan male, about 1 ‡ years old. Surrendered with his companion, Chiquita, because their owner moved off to go to college. He is affectionate and loves to follow me around. He is active and healthy. He has Marshall Farms tattoos. He is adoptable with his companion, Chiquita.

Chiquita - a light sable female, about 1 year old. She was surrendered with her companion, Mugy. She is very active and playful. She alternates between "zero and ninety" constantly as she plays. She has no visible tattoos or other markings. She is adoptable with her companion, Mugy.


The shelter has reached its capacity, in both number of ferrets and ability to financially handle so many special medical needs. Please spread the word that there are dozens of adoptable ferrets of all ages at the shelter, from $25-$75. The shelter also needs donations of the following supplies: paper towels, bleach, litter, hairball medication, vaccines, food (Iams kitten or Totally Ferret), and other medications. You can also help by sponsoring or fostering a needy ferret. Check out the new web site for the Ferrets First Rescue and Shelter at http://www.flash.net/~ffrs

Please help if you can. If you wish to make a donation, become a sponsor, or request an adoption application packet, please contact shelter director Patricia Curtis at metro (817) 596-0558. Or at ffrs@flash.net


Thank you for participating in our survey. We would appreciate you giving us as much detail as possible as any research can only be as good as the data on which it is based. If you have more than one ferret, and they are all housed and cared for in the same way, we would appreciate it if you can fill out one survey with all their names listed. However, please list the relevant information for EACH ferret in the other categories (e.g., age, weight, neutering information for each). Also, it is imperative to know whether any of them (living and/or deceased) have had health problems, thus we would appreciate it if you could list these individually in the health section. If you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to contact us at Badlab@acsu.buffalo.edu. Once again thanks and good health to your ferrets.


State(if applicable):

Ferret Name:


Neutered?   If yes, at what age?


Color (including distinguishing markings):

Place of Purchase or Adoption (i.e. supplier, friend)

Age of Ferret when acquired:

Present Age:

Bloodlines if known (i.e. country of origin)



Basic description of their enclosure:

Type of Litter:

Amount of time spent out of the cage:

How much room they have to roam when outside the cage:

Number of Humans in regular contact:

Time outside the home if any please describe activities outside the home):

If more than one Ferret, do they share the same enclosure?


Supplements and / or preventative medicine?

Free choice or timed feeding?

Snacks or Treats?


Inoculations (please state what the inoculations were for, and if possible which vaccine was used)


Frequency of Inoculations:

Illnesses and Treatment ( please include all illnesses, even if your ferret did not see a vet, the success of the treatment, and the time it took for your ferret to recover)

Any changes you made in the care of your Ferrets as the result of illness, and whether or not it made a perceptible difference to your Ferret's health.



What you have been able to teach your Ferret?

How you taught them?

What your Ferret has been able to teach you:

Any unusual behaviors:

Any humorous Ferret stories to tell?

In the case of a deceased Ferret, please also give if possible

Cause of death:

Treatment (including drugs):

If we may contact you in the event we have further questions, please put your name and contact information below.

Name: Address:

Phone: E-mail:

If you have any questions, we can be contacted on E-mail at Badlab@acsu.buffalo.edu or by mail. Send mail to:

Lori Badura, Psychology Department, 220 Park Hall, SUNY at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, 14260.


The Ferret Lovers' Club of Texas and the Ferrets First Rescue and Shelter have been invited to the Texas Home Show with help from City and Country Pets magazine. Instead of the usual $600-$1100 booth fee, we are getting space for FREE! What a wonderful opportunity to inform the ferret-illegal city of Dallas how great ferrets really are! We can sell products to raise funds, get new members, disseminate ferret educational information, get publicity for the shelter, and so on. The show is in Dallas with the following schedule:

Friday, March 14: 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m..

Saturday, March 15: 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 16: 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

We desperately need people to cover those times. Please volunteer at the March meeting, or contact Chris Snoberger or Matthew Stevens.


Garland Health Department and Animal Control took their proposal for a revamped animal code to the city council on 2/17/98. The council voted to pass the new code with no discussion on ferrets. Many thanks to our legal coordinator, Debra Thomason, and John Teel, Assistant Director of Health at Garland, for their efforts for ferrets. Here are the points of the upcoming ordinance, which will be effective when Texas state laws go into effect regarding the new quarantine rules for ferrets this spring.

1) Ferrets must be vaccinated for rabies and owner must have a rabies vaccination certificate registered with the city.

2) The owner must obtain a ferret permit for $25. The permit covers all ferrets at one address.

3) If the ferret is out of the owner's "enclosure" (home, fenced yard, or other contained area), it must be on a leash. (Same as dog leash law).

4) Ferrets must wear a collar with a label containing the owner's name and phone #. This doesn't require the ferret to wear the license tag, but still allows an opportunity for a strayed ferret to be identified.

5) Ferrets over 6 months of age must be sterilized.