Ferret Care In Temporary Shelters

DIET: Free fed commercial ferret diet. Dry cat food with fiber under 4% is acceptable. Mix the two by pulverizing both if a limited supply of ferret food is available.
Occasional cooked meat scraps; never give fruits, vegetables, or sweets.
Young, old, or sick animals can be fed canned food for kittens or chicken baby food.
Water must be available at all times in both a bottle and a bowl.

HOUSING: Minimum temperature 60 degrees, maximum 80 degrees. Very sensitive to high heat and humidity, move to indoor climate controlled facility if needed.
Use a wire cage with small bar spacing or cat carrier, newspaper or soft fabric bedding. Do not use wood chips. Provide a shelf, hammock, hiding box, or towel for sleeping.
Great escape artists, beware of holes or doors they can open, use extra latches on doors.
Keep away from direct sunlight or drafts.  
Provide a litter box. Recyclable wood or paper litters should be used; clumping or clay litters or shavings are not advised.
Do not house ferrets from different sources together, but keep families together.

RESTRAINT: Most ferrets do not bite and will like human attention.
Roll in a towel like a burrito to carry.
Hold by the scruff and stretch, grasping the pelvis instead of the legs, to examine.

COMMON MEDICAL PROBLEMS: Susceptible to Canine Distemper Virus and Rabies, keep away from unvaccinated dogs. Must use Ferret approved vaccines only.
Fleas and ear mites can be treated with kitten dose of Revolution or other flea preventative.
Seizures due to insulinomas (causing low blood sugar) can be treated with Karo Syrup, but will need experienced exotic mammal veterinary care once stabilized.
Diarrhea may quickly result in dehydration. Try to get a ferret specific diet and seek veterinary care from experienced exotic animal doctor.

OTHER: Most have been spayed or neutered at a very young age.
Chewing plastic or rubber toys may result in swallowing foreign material. Give fabric or rope toys, paper bags, or cardboard tubes to play with.

Compiled by Julie Burge, DVM, Burge Bird Services and Burge Bird Rescue, August 2016

Immediate Intake Care of Small, Unusual & Exotic Pets by Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary
Exotic Companion Medicine Handbook for Veterinarians by Cathy Johnson-Delaney, DVM, Diplomat ABVP-Avian
Ferret Emergency Response, Rescue and Evacuation Team, www.ferretemergency.org