Posted: November 1, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: We noticed this morning when cleaning our ferret’s cage that he had a few worms in his feces. What can we do for this problem? He is about 6 months old. He got into our guinea pig’s food. Would that have caused this?
A: It is very unusual for our pet ferrets to have infections with gastrointestinal parasites. When you see “worms” in the feces, this may represent a parasitic infection in a section of the intestinal tract.
Parasites are more common in puppies and kittens because their moms are more commonly infected with worms that are passed onto the young. Pregnant ferrets rarely have intestinal parasites, so it is rare to see parasites being passed onto kits.
But what if a ferret did have intestinal parasites, where would they come from? Intestinal parasites can be ingested from contaminated water or meat, infected feces or infective forms of the parasite attached to dirt or grass. Commercial guinea pig food should not harbor the infective form of any type of intestinal parasite for ferrets.
It is also possible that flies laid eggs on the ferret’s feces, and what you are seeing are fly larva and not intestinal parasites. The easiest way to know what you have seen is to collect feces and samples of the worms and bring them to your veterinarian’s office to have them examined under the microscope.
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