How To Stay Healthy Around Pet Ferrets5 min read

When you own a pet ferret, there are many things you need to do to ensure that you and your pet are as safe as possible. Pet ferrets can transmit several diseases and viruses to humans.

Here are some tips to help you stay healthy around pet ferrets, so you can enjoy this amazing animal without putting yourself at risk.

Prevent Ferret Scratches and Bites

Ferret scratches and bites can happen at any time, and they are often caused by a lack of understanding and training on the ferrets’ part.

The best way to avoid getting bitten by your ferret is to avoid rough play

They love to play and chew, but they can and will play too rough if not taught how to play gently.

A bite that is not taken care of might end up spreading bacteria to your blood, and in case your ferret is unvaccinated, it could even spread rabies.

What Should You Do When Bitten Or Scratched By a Ferret

wash hands when bitten by ferret
  • Immediately wash the wound with water and soap
  • Find out if the ferret has a rabies vaccination

You will need the rabies vaccine license number and the veterinarian’s contact information to check for sure.

Very infrequently do well-kept domesticated ferrets give serious diseases. As long as you are an adult and in overall good health condition, you should be fine.

But an infectious ferret could be dangerous for small children, the elderly, and people with a weak immune system. It would be best if you did not let your child play with it unsupervised.

Campylobacter and Salmonella Bacteria

Ferrets can carry several diseases.  The most common of these is campylobacter, a bacterial infection that can lead to fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Ferrets can also carry salmonella, a bacterial infection that can lead to fever, diarrhea, bloody stools, and abdominal pain.

Microscopic Parasites

Giardia lamblia causes giardiasis, a widespread disease in the United States. It causes diarrheal illness. One way to pick it up is when you are changing your ferret’s litter box.

Ferrets can carry the parasite Toxoplasma gondii too – It causes toxoplasmosis, which is a severe disease if you are pregnant and could lead to complications – even miscarriage.

Skin Parasites

Several skin parasites could spread through contact with your ferret or his cage, for example:

  • Ringworm (is a fungus)
  • Fleas
  • Scabies (less likely but possible)


Signs of ringworm include scaly patches on the skin and red patches that are usually circular.

If you start to show symptoms, you will need to see a doctor for treatment, as it is a fungus that thrives in moist, warm areas.

Ringworm is highly contagious, so if you show symptoms, it’s a good idea to avoid contact with other people or pets until you’ve been treated.


Just like their canine and feline relatives, pet ferrets are also susceptible to fleas. Fleas can feed on human blood too.


Though scabies is often considered a nuisance, they are also fairly common and can be spread via direct contact from pets to their owners.

Treating scabies in animals and humans is fairly easy, so if you suspect your pet has scabies, it’s important to get him checked by a veterinarian right away – and you should probably see your doctor too …

What Else Can You Do To Protect Your And Your Ferrets Wellbeing

It is important to keep your ferret’s cage clean and wash your hands often when handling your ferret.

  • Before and after playing with your ferret
  • Before and after cleaning the cage
  • Before and after handling toys and supplies
  • Before feeding and after feeding

Monitor Your Ferret’s Health

check ferret coat

When your ferret stops being his or her usual active, playful self, it’s time to schedule a checkup.  

A sick ferret is a very weak ferret, and he or she will typically avoid playing or exercise of any kind until the problem is resolved.  

A ferret that has lost its appetite may be sick, but it could also just be bored, so make sure you keep the ferret’s living space interesting, with lots of hiding places and other ways to get exercise (read.. care for your ferret).

Signs to look out for

  • Your ferret shows sluggish/depressed behavior.
  • Dull hair
  • Loose stool
  • Discharge from nose/eye
  • Breathing is abnormal

If any of the signs above occurs, contact your vet right away. 

Ferrets Can Be Infected With Influenzia

Did you know that Ferrets can be infected with influenza? It could spread from ferrets to humans (and vice versa), leading to serious illness. To stay healthy around your ferret, a yearly flu shot could be a good idea.

Humans and Ferrets Can Give The Common Flu and Colds to Each Other

Most pets, including ferrets, can catch cold and flu viruses. Humans can catch viruses from their pets. In the past, the only animals that could give humans the flu and colds were ferrets, monkeys, and pigs.

Now,  the CDC (Center for Disease Control) says that humans can catch the flu and cold viruses from pet ferrets.

If you happen to have the flu, stay clear from your ferret. If that’s not an option, wear a face mask and gloves. Also, wash your hands before and after you are dealing with your ferret.

If you own a group of ferrets (“a group of ferrets is called a business“) separate the sick one immediately.

Again, contact your vet and discuss further steps.

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