Where there is warm blood, fleas will feed and reproduce. Like any other furry pet (cats dogs and the like), ferrets are susceptible to getting fleas.
So, how can you protect your fuzzlets from those pests? How can you assure that they don’t get fleas at all, and if they already have, how do you treat them?
How to find out if a ferret has fleas
If you suspect that your dookers have fleas, it’s important to check right away before the fleas reproduce. Once they lay their eggs down, your situation becomes much more difficult to deal with.
Even one or two fleas can start an infestation so be mindful of and check for any of the following signs:
Itching or hair loss
It’s natural for a ferret’s hair to be all over the place; it’s even more natural for them to scratch themselves every once in a while. However, if such behaviors have intensified, one of your ferrets may have become a flea’s meal.
Furthermore, some ferrets are allergic to fleas. When the pests bite, they leave their saliva on the ferret’s skin, which causes the reaction; the ferret’s skin becomes irritated, and it may even get infected from too much scratching.
Wounds and bites
Look for red wounds and broken skin. If something has been biting your ferret, and they have been scratching themselves, there is a high chance they’d have opened a wound. This is often a good indication of a parasite present.
Flea bites are small red dots. Part your ferret’s fur with your fingers or by blowing on it to check their skin below.
Any reddish-brown or black dots
Part your ferret’s fur or run a flea comb through it. If you encounter any reddish-brown specs, you may have found your pests. If instead, you see black dots you, you may have found their feces.
Check your ferret’s belly, neck, between their shoulder blades and behind their ears. If you see one flea, most likely, there are more.
A ferret that is being bitten and sucked dry of its blood often becomes irritable. It may begin to lose sleep (which would be a nightmare for any dooker!) or even stop eating.
Be mindful of any changes that might be taking place with your ferrets. Look for the signs of an unhappy ferret; it could be trying to tell you something.
No signs of biting or irritation
Some ferrets do not show clear signs of infestation. Check them regularly anyways, especially during summer, as that’s when most fleas come out.
Do the same after any other situation in which there was a chance for fleas to transfer to your dookers.
If you discover that your ferret has fleas, take it to the vet immediately.
How can a ferret get fleas
It’s best to protect your ferrets from ever getting fleas, so you should know how they can pick them up. Try to catch the fleas before they reproduce. You will avoid a high monetary cost and a potential danger to your pets and home.
Picking up fleas while outside
As with any other animal, going outside can get your ferret a flea or two. It’s strongly encouraged that you check your pets before bringing them home again.
Check the bottoms of your shoes as well. Sometimes homes become infested after a human has brought the fleas in.
Other pets carrying fleas
After a dog has been out for a walk, it may bring fleas inside to your other pets. Furthermore, play-dates with other ferrets could result in flea exchange. Stray mice, cats, and dogs could also gift your ferrets with fleas.
If your dookers interact with other animals at any point, check them for fleas.
Blankets, bedding and plush toys containing fleas
Whenever you bring any second-hand goods made of cloth into your home, wash and de-flea them. Any flea eggs that happen to be inside can live up to two years waiting for a furry animal to feed off of.
When it comes to blankets, toys, and harnesses for your ferrets, consider getting things that have not been used by other people. You’ll reduce the risk of a flea infestation.
Warm and humid weather
Regardless of whether fleas come from somewhere in the house or an animal brings them from the outside, those pests are most active during summer. They, just like ticks, spread and reproduce the most during the warmer seasons.
If you live in a constantly cold area you, shouldn’t have as much of a cause to worry. But when it’s warm outside, make sure to check your ferrets and other pets at least once or twice every week.
How to treat a flea-infested ferret
There are many ways to treat a ferret who’s got fleas, but the easiest, most secure, tried, and tested method is through flea prevention medication.
This medication is applied once a month. The dose is put in a syringe (without a needle!) and squirted between the shoulder blades of the ferret.
Most of those medicines are made only for cats and dogs, but there are a few proven to be good for dookers as well. For ferrets, veterinarians often suggest the products suitable for kittens but given in smaller doses. Consult your vet when choosing a brand and type of medicine. Different ferrets react differently to different chemicals, don’t use anything before you get the opinion of a certified vet.
Also, change what you treat your ferrets with. After a few years, the fleas may get accustomed to the product you are using.
Bathe your ferrets with flea shampoo (that is suitable for kittens) and comb their fur with a flea comb to remove left-over fleas and eggs. Avoid using sprays, powders, and flea collars on your pets; those products are often toxic, and the chemicals could build up in the ferret’s body.
Keep in mind that flea prevention medicine is expensive, so always look to reduce the chance of fleas getting on your ferrets. On top of that, you’d want to clean most if not all of your house to make sure that you won’t have to deal with any hatchlings just a month after you’ve fought off the first infestation.
How to deal with a flea infestation
Sometimes it seems like the fleas have come out of nowhere; other times they can even return after you’ve freed your ferrets once. In those situations, you must consider that you have fleas or eggs in your home.
Treating your home should be as important as treating your pets.
Clean your ferrets’ bedding and toys
You need to get rid of any fleas that have made a hiding place of your ferrets’ sheets or toys. You wouldn’t want any new eggs hatching while you are fighting the infestation.
Use sprays and powders to get the fleas off your carpets and floors
Sprays and powders are often too toxic for ferrets, but you can use them in your house. Don’t let your ferrets roam around until every last bit of the solution you are using has been vacuumed or wiped up.
Spread powder across any carpets as well as the floor and spray under or behind furniture. Fleas like dark places, so many may be hiding there.
The bottom line is…
Having ferrets is a serious responsibility, and if you get a flea infestation, you’ll have on your hands a problem even more serious. You need to take real measures that can guarantee effective extermination of all fleas in the vicinity of your ferrets.
If all else fails, call pest control. Fleas drinking the blood of your ferrets could lead to dangerous illnesses such as anemia, infections, contraction of other parasites; it could even prove fatal.