- Ferrets lack a cecum to digest/ process fuits and vegetables.
- A ferrets left lung has 2 lobes, while the right has 4.
- A ferrets body contains 14 or 15 pairs of ribs.
- A kit has 30 baby teeth, while an adult has 34.
- Food fully travels throughout their system in 3 hours.
Cardiomyopathy is the death of cardiac muscle
fibers (decrease in function) which gets replaced by scar
tissue and can take on two forms: Dilated (most
common) and Hypertrophic, which share
same symptoms but different causes. Signs of heart failure
include congestion, edema (fluid retention causing limbs
to swell, build up in abdomen or around lungs, enlarged
heart, low blood pressure, tiredness, and difficulty breathing.
This disease is very hard to detect in the early stages,
as it starts progressing, the respiratory rate and pulse
increase, mucous membranes will appear purple or blue vs
pink, and will have a slow capillary refill (press on the
gums with your finger turning it white and release; will
take 3+ seconds to return to pink color). There is no cure
for Cardiomyopathy, treatment goal is to decrease fluid
buildup and increase strength of heart contractions, extending
life and providing quality.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
Dilated Cardiomyopathy is also known as an enlarged heart
and is the more common form of heart disease in ferrets.
The heart muscles become stretched and lose the ability
to contract with strength, resulting in only a small fraction
of blood being pumped. The backing up of blood due to the
decrease in pumping strength can back into the abdomen
(swollen, fluid filled belly), lungs (initially soft cough
which worsens, decrease in energy). At end stage (Chronic
Heart Failure), it becomes very difficult to breath, often
fluid in lungs and abdomen, which presses on the diaphragm.
The heart will appear enlarged on x-rays, but additional
tests should be run to rule out other illnesses which can
Medical treatment is aimed at
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is an overgrowth of heart
fibers which decreases the effectiveness in pumping the
blood. The muscle walls of the ventricles become extremely
thickened, reducing the size of the chamber the blood flow
through. This disease is often diagnosed in much younger
ferrets than DCM, and is harder to diagnose as no heart
enlargement will be visible on x-rays, necessitating the
use of Echocardiograms, Sonograms and ECG.
Medical treatment consists of:
- Ferret's normal rectal temperature is between 100 - 104 with 101.9 being the average.
- Heart rate is 180 - 250 bpm with 225 being average.
- Respiration is 33-36 per minute.
- Normal urine pH is 6.5 - 7.5
- Blood volume is 60-80 ml/ kg.
- Ferrets do possess toxoplasmosis in
their systems. However, unlike cats they cannot release/
shed the infected eggs back into the environment, they
hit a dead end, so humans cannot catch the disease.