Health and Nutrition
What should I feed my ferret?
Your ferret was raised on the Marshall Premium Ferret Diet, a proven food that we recommend for best long term health and well-being. Great care should be taken in choosing a diet for your new pet. Many "ferret" diets are not necessarily nutritionally complete. Some foods boast of high protein, but this protein may be derived from plant rather than meat sources. No other diet uses more fresh meat-based protein than Marshall Premium Ferret Diet. The Marshall diet is also manufactured using a special patented low temperature process to retain the freshness. More veterinarians, breeders and ferret owners are convinced that the Marshall Premium Ferret Diet is the key to the good health of their ferrets.
What vaccinations will my ferret need?
All ferrets need a series of distemper vaccinations when they are very young. Your ferret received a canine distemper vaccination and will require additional vaccinations at 11 and 14 weeks of age and then annually. Ferrets should also receive a rabies vaccination after 12 weeks of age. Make sure your ferret is properly vaccinated every year. You can keep track of your ferret(s) records on your My Marshall Pet account page.
What are my pet's hygiene requirements?
Generally ferrets are very clean animals and groom themselves, however, during the shedding seasons (Spring and Fall) your ferret is prone to developing hair balls. It is important to brush them frequently during this time and give them a malt-based laxative, such as Ferret Lax, if required.
Bathing: Most owners find that once every 3-4 weeks is sufficient. We recommend a specialty ferret shampoo that does not strip essential oils from their skin. Some shampoos will leave ferrets itchy and scratchy. A conditioning coat spray can be used between shampoos to keep your ferret looking and smelling its best.
Teeth Cleaning: A ferret's teeth may accumulate tartar buildup over time. Many owners purchase a tooth scaler or a finger toothbrush to keep their ferret's teeth in top form.
Ear Cleaning: Ear wax buildup in ferrets is very common. The best way to remove wax and clean the ear is with a ferret ear cleaning solution. Simply squirt the solution in the ferret's ear and it will break down the wax and promote clean and healthy ear tissue. Clean ears also prevent ear mites. Never put a cotton applicator into your ferret's ears, as this could damage the ferret's hearing.
Nail Clipping: This can be a challenging event as ferrets are very active. To make the job easier, try a few drops of Furo-vite™ or Furo-tone™ on the ferret's belly to divert their attention. When trimming, be careful not to cut too far down; avoid the pink area and only cut the curved tip. If you clip too far, the nail can bleed, if this should happen, use styptic powder to stop the bleeding.
Does my ferret need nutritional supplements and vitamins?
With proper diet, ferrets should not need nutritional supplements. If your ferret's skin becomes dry and scratchy, it may be lacking necessary fatty acids. You may want to try a linoleic acid supplement such as Furo-Tone™. If you ferret is not feeling well or losing weight, a daily vitamin supplement such as Furo-vite™ can be offered. Ferrets love these products, and they can also be used as a healthy daily treat.
What about other treats and snacks for my ferret?
Treats should be given as a reward. However, the type of treat should be monitored closely. We recommend avoiding dairy and sugar-based treats for ferrets. Along with Furo-Tone™ and Furo-Vite™, ferrets love semi-moist chicken and liver treats (Bandits™). Although ferrets love to eat natural treats (i.e., raisins, grapes, bananas) they could encounter health problems if they are fed too much. Do not feed chocolate, peanut butter, marshmallows, soft drinks, ice cream or potato chips to your pet ferret.
We also have new Bandits Freeze Dried Treats made with single sourced, whole animal proteins.
What is green slime disease?
We have had a number of questions recently about a relatively new disease syndrome in ferrets that has several names. It has been called "green slime disease", "ferret mystery virus" or "epizootic catarrhal enteritis". This disease is characterized primarily by a bright green, mucoid diarrhea, accompanied by other signs of illness, such as loss of appetite, inactivity and dehydration. It appears to be easily spread among ferrets and is believed to be caused by a virus.
While some research has been done to investigate this problem, much about it is still unknown. This lack of information persists despite the fact that the disease has been reported for at least a decade among ferret populations everywhere. It appears to be a world-wide problem.
Marshall Farms and all other ferret lovers are deeply concerned about this potentially serious disease of ferrets. While administration of supportive care by your ferret's veterinarian usually results in complete recovery, the illness can still be serious. Sadly, fatalities do occur, sometimes despite aggressive and diligent care and treatment.
Over the past year, we have been compiling reports from pet owners regarding how this disease appears to spread and attack. Any situation that brings ferrets together seems to have the potential for spread of disease. One important circumstance appears to be the introduction of a new, young ferret into a home where there are other ferrets already in residence. Our belief at this time is that these young ferrets have been exposed to the disease without showing any obvious symptoms. These youngsters act as a source of exposure for adults. The adults then contract the disease and become ill, although the young ferrets do not. We have been informed of enough scenarios of this nature to believe that this situation represents a significant risk for unexposed, adult ferrets. This observation seems to hold true regardless of history, source or geographic area. It also appears that once adults have been exposed, become ill and recover, they are then immune for some period.
Based on this information, we recommend caution whenever buying a new baby ferret and bringing it into a home where there are adult ferrets that have not previously been exposed to the disease. Caution should also be exercised when attending ferret shows or other such functions where groups of ferrets are co-mingled.
At Marshall Farms, we have been dedicated to ferret health and well being for over 60 years. As a result of this commitment, we are taking a leadership role in the investigation of this disease. To this end, we are currently supporting intensive research into this disease problem. The goals are to make a definitive determination of the cause; to better understand the sequence of transmission and infection; and finally, how to prevent it, for example by vaccination in a manner similar to protection against distemper. The ultimate goal is eradication. We believe that by working together with all those committed to ferret health, including owners, breeders, veterinarians and researchers, we can rise to the challenge of solving the mysteries of "the mystery virus".
If you believe you may have new information that would contribute to our collective knowledge, please do not hesitate to contact us. By communication with ferret owners and their veterinarians, we are currently attempting to identify the optimum treatment regimen that will ensure recovery of ill ferrets. In this manner, we may act as a resource for veterinarians who are unfamiliar with the disease or with treatment of ferrets in general. Together, we look forward to making progress to halt this unfortunate disease.
Can my ferret get distemper?
Distemper is an airborne virus that, without vaccination, is almost always 100% fatal. Distemper can be contracted from a variety of surfaces and sources; i.e. grass, weeds, trees, shrubs, or animals that you come into contact with. The incubation period can be up to 10 days long, so it is important to isolate any new pets from the household until such time has passed. Some people believe that if they always keep their pets indoors they will never be exposed to distemper. This simply isn’t true, because any time you venture out of your house and back in, you carry all sorts of germs on your shoes and may indeed be exposing your pets to deadly viruses. It is best to vaccinate.