Posted: July 21, 2008, 5 a.m. EDT
© Carolyn A. McKeone
Sometimes it's difficult to know whether your ferret might be ill or just tired.
Quiz Tip: Print out this page before you take the quiz and use it to record your answers for each question.
Quiz Note: This article is not meant to be used for diagnosis or treatment of ferret ailments. If you believe your ferret is ill, please take it to a ferret-knowledgeable veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.
The ferret. Honestly, can you think of any other companion animal that so consistently forces us to try to read its mind? How often do you find yourself wondering if your ferret is really all right? Does it seem tired? Is it getting the proper diet? Are its teeth good? What did that sneeze mean? Is its coat OK? Does that poop look right? Your ferret won’t to tell you, it wants you to guess, the little weasel! It’s just one more aspect of ferret charm.
Enter the good veterinarian. The good veterinarian is the very best ferret accessory, better than little tiny novelty hats with elastic bands, itty bitty black bomber jackets or even snap-together, see-through plastic tubes. The good veterinarian can address your concerns and devise a plan of action when all is not well with your small friend. A good veterinarian can’t read your ferret’s mind, but he or she can tell a lot with a touch. That’s why an exam is called a physical, I suppose. And that’s why your ferret should have an annual physical, just the way you should. Here is an easy self-diagnostic to help you assess your basic (or even your downright obscure!) ferret health knowledge.
Ferret Health Question 1: Your veterinarian says that your ferret has “ear mites.” What the heck are those?
a) The correct pronunciation is “hear mites,” which you would know if your own hearing was any good.
b) Ear mites are microscopic insects that live their entire life cycle on your ferret’s body, but they really love living in the ear canal best. They can cause your ferret painful itching and scratching, and the dreaded “waxy yellow buildup” we hear about in floor cleaner commercials.
c) Just like b) only the culprits are arachnids, not insects.
d) Ear mites were first diagnosed in the elephant Horton, after he heard his first microscopic Who on the dust speck.
Ferret Health Question 2: Tail blackheads are …
a) Caused when ferrets eat too much chocolate.
b) Sort of like ear mites, only on the tail. Watch closely. You may see them move!
c) Highly contagious, only you can’t get them because you don’t have a tail.
d) Caused by blocked oil glands in the skin of the tail. They are ugly, but not dangerous.
Ferret Health Question 3: Speaking of chocolate, chocolate is …
a) Extremely poisonous to ferrets.
b) Mine. Mine. Mine. You can’t have any!
c) Most likely not toxic, but the sugar is certainly bad for ferrets.
d) Toxic to both dogs and ferrets.
Ferret Health Question 4: Rabies is …
a) A fatal disease that ferrets should be vaccinated against on a regular schedule.
b) Something that ferrets can’t catch because they aren’t mammals, they are mustelids.
c) Never fatal.
d) Only found in wild animal populations.
Ferret Health Question 5: Melatonin is …
a) A pale, orange-colored, cantaloupe-flavored soft drink.
b) A hormone therapy for the treatment of adrenal disease.
c) The cure for adrenal disease.
d) Available by prescription only.
Ferret Health Question 6: You can safely give a ferret ibuprofen for pain.
Ferret Health Question 7: Ferrets are obligate carnivores.
Ferret Health Question 8: Mast cell tumors are always cancerous.
Ferret Health Question 9: Ferrets have very strong stomach acids, and can actually digest bits of rubber or plastic.
Ferret Health Question 10: Ferrets are immune to the flu, influenza.
Click here to check answers >>
Alexandra Sargent-Colburn lives in Massachusetts with fish, ferrets, a cat, a husband and a neurotic dog. The ferrets are in charge.