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Ferret Litter Infestation

What should be done about an infestation of maggots or parasites in the litter of ferrets?

Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
Posted: November 8, 2013, 11 p.m. EST

ferrets-play-131108
© Courtesy Carol D.
These ferrets and cat are healthy, but if a cat or dog in the house gets an infection of nematodes, this could be passed along to your ferrets — and to you.

Q: I own four beautiful ferrets. Lately, every time I clean there cage there have been maggots in their litter. I clean their cage every other day, but switched to cleaning every day when I noticed the maggots. This has never happened before. It started when I bought this cat litter. I changed their litter to a different one until I can get to the pet store to buy ferret litter. Do you think my ferrets have worms? If they do, is there anything I can buy to take those away? I love my ferrets dearly, but I can't afford a visit to the veterinarian right away. Please tell me if there is anything else I can do.

A: Maggots are one of those things that makes just about everyone uncomfortable to see. They feed on decaying material. They are the larval form of flies. So if what you are seeing are maggots and not intestinal parasites of your ferrets, maggots should be easy to remove.

The first step is to keep flies away from the ferret litter and cage. Make sure there is no food that has been dropped around the cage or in the cage to attract them. Without using harmful pesticides, make sure flies are not in your home nor in the area in which you keep your ferrets. If there are no flies, there will be no maggots.

If you do have flies and they lay eggs, the maggots that hatch out of those eggs will only live if they have decaying material to eat. Remove all food, fecal material and anything else organic they are eating. If you do this, you will not have maggots.

But what if these are not maggots but are internal parasites, called nematodes, of your pet ferrets? Unfortunately, those need to be identified and treated by a veterinarian. It is very unusual for ferrets to have a nematode infection as compared to dogs and cats that can have them frequently. If you have dogs or cats in the house with a nematode infection, it is possible that infection could spread to the ferrets. Nematode infections are not to be taken lightly. They can cause serious disease in ferrets and also, very importantly, can infect people, especially children, leading to very severe illnesses.

See all veterinary Q&A about ferrets, click here>>
See all ferret health articles, click here>>
See veterinary Q&A for all small animal pets, click here>>

Posted: November 8, 2013, 11 p.m. EST


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