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Ferrets Eating Bugs

Can a ferret get tapeworms from eating crickets or other insects?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, DABVP
Posted: October 31, 2008, 11 a.m. EDT

Q: We let our ferrets play in the basement and occasionally they come across a bug or two they both like to eat, mainly box elder bugs and crickets. Today, a friend said animals can get tapeworms from crickets. Is this true? Do we need to worry and, if so, is there anything to treat ferrets for tapeworms? Both our ferrets look and act fine.

A: Eating bugs and crickets is not a very healthy diet for a ferret. Our biggest fear is not parasites but pesticides. Homeowners and commercial entities frequently leave out and spray dangerous chemicals to rid their homes and businesses of bugs, so it is far more likely that a ferret will consume a bug that is toxic and even deadly due to these chemicals.

You may never know what chemical was on the bug that your ferret ingested, and your veterinarian has little chance of saving your ferret if it becomes ill. For these reasons, I do not recommend allowing ferrets to catch and eat bugs in the house.

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Ferrets Eating Bugs

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Reader Comments
can ferrets eat bugs u buy from like a bait shop or a pet store and if so what kind? like mealworms or crickets that are breed or whatever?
shelby, tucson, AZ
Posted: 3/4/2011 1:55:33 PM
You didn't answer the question as to whether or not tapeworms harm ferrets or how to treat a ferret with tapeworms. Thanks for your opinion on ferrets eating bugs, but that did not answer the question.
T-roy, Seattle, WA
Posted: 6/8/2010 8:56:33 AM
My ferret has never eaten anything other than his ferret food or a specific treat. Ive let him try all kinds of food, but he never takes. Last night I had my window open and two june bugs flew in. He ran right over, caught and ate them. What gives?! Hes a little nutty.
William, Chicago, IL
Posted: 5/21/2009 1:24:04 PM
This is a question I've had for a few weeks now. I believe I found Spencer after he'd eaten a water bug that came in through the patio door. He was coughing and came downstairs only to find him near some wings, but no bug!!! Thanks so much. I'll really keep my eyes out for the bugs now!
Cheryl, Jacksonville, FL
Posted: 1/15/2009 1:30:25 PM
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