Ferrets have a highly-developed sense of hearing, and in order to keep this important sense, ears must always be properly cared for (every week or every other week is recommended). This will lessen odors and help prevent ear mite infestations.
Please Keep My Ears Healthy!
Before cleaning (and to make the experience a little less scary), slightly warm the ear cleaning solution – no one likes cold drops in their ears! Scruff your ferret (they can be squirmy little guys) and gently insert a few drops to loosen up that stubborn wax, and massage the base of the ear to work the cleaner inside. Wet a cotton swab with the same cleaning solution, clean the outer ear, and inside the base. Don’t push too hard even though it’s very unlikely you will hit the ear drum – did you know the inside of your ferret’s ear is L-shaped? Repeat using a wet swab until the wax is gone, and dry with a new one. Probably not a bad idea to reward with a yummy treat! Afterwards, they’ll probably forgive you a little faster.
Let’s Talk A Little More About Ear Wax
Normal ferret ear wax is light brown, orange or a reddish tone. Like humans and other animals, different ferrets produce different amounts and colors of wax (time of year can also play a role in the amount being produced). It’s important for ferret owners to stay on top of wax cleaning (see detailed directions above). If we don’t, it’s possible for our ferrets to experience discomfort from pressure and infections (and we definitely don’t want that!). If you have concerns about the color or amount your ferret is producing, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your vet to make sure it’s normal, and your little one isn’t in any pain. Excessive ear wax can also lead to the yucky ear mite.
I Have Gunky Ear Mites
If you find your ferret excessively scratching at their ears, shaking their head, even losing fur, ear mites could be the cause. Ear mites usually come with a few things: black or orange discharge or a stinky odor. If left untreated, eardrums can rupture, and your ferret could experience balance and hearing problems, or even hearing loss. Home and vet Treatment
are both options. Check with your veterinarian before beginning home treatment; we want to be sure we’re treating properly.
Home treatment will consist of two medications (a ceruminolytic (will dissolve the wax mites live in) and a miticide (medication to treat). First, you’ll use the ear cleaner in the ear and massage at the base (let sit for a minute or so)… we need to get rid of the wax before inserting any medication. After letting sit in the ear, use a cotton swab to remove the rest of the wax from the vertical part of the canal. Now it’s time to insert 3-4 drops of the medication. Continue treatment every day for 7-10 days, rest for a week, and repeat the next to make sure those nasty mites are gone. We do this because some mites resist treatment – one treatment only kills mature mites. A few days later, new eggs will hatch, and we want to get those too. Again, if you have questions or feel uncomfortable performing this procedure, check with your vet (another good option is to bring your ferret in and have the doctor watch you perform the treatment to help you through your first time).
If you prefer veterinarian treatment, instead of on a daily basis, your ferret will receive weekly treatments for 2-3 weeks, using a very effective anti-parasitic medication (can be massaged directly in the ear canal or by injection). This option may be the way to go if you feel uncomfortable performing home treatment, or would rather your ferret receive less frequent treatments.
Our ferrets rely on their ears to understand their environment, and because their ears are so sensitive, need to be very well cared for… so keep them clean. Prevention is always better than treatment!