My Ferret Sleeps Too Much – Causes of Lethargy in Ferrets

Ferrets are nocturnal animals; this means that they are most active at night than in the morning. They have a very high level of energy and just run, jump and play all day long. This leads them also to rest for longer periods.

Ferrets are good at adapting, and they may change their schedule according to you, so you do not have to worry about being woken up late at night by your havoc causing ferrets.

Ferrets sleep for about 18 hours a day, and if your ferret is sleeping more than that, then it might be because of the heat, pain meds, Insulinoma, etc. You can consult your vet regarding the best way to help your ferret.

Here are some of the reasons that your ferret might be sleeping too much:

1. Winter mode

Some of the ferrets actually go into winter mode during the cold winter months. During this time they also put on a lot of weight and shed their summer coat and grow a winter coat.

All these things help ferrets in the wild deal with the cold winter months. The ferret in winter mode begins to sleep much more than usual. This is a way of saving energy as ferrets find it challenging to find food during the winter.

2. Heat

In the summer time, the ferrets do not fare too well. The winter climate suits them much more. They become lethargic and sleepy during the summer months just like humans. They spend most of their days sleeping and the nights playing and having fun.

3. Insulinoma

This is one of the most common conditions among ferrets. Insulinoma causes the ferrets to sleep much more than usual, they stop playing with others, excessively lick the chops, ulcers and grind their teeth.

Another way to check if your ferret has Insulinoma is to keep a check on its stool habits. Keep track of the changes and see if anything is out of ordinary. Take your ferret to the vet to get an accurate diagnosis.

4. Adrenal disease

Adrenal disease is also another disease that is very common among ferrets. This condition can be found much more popularly in older ferrets than the young ones.

Symptoms of adrenaline disease include hair loss on the tail, sleepy too much, lethargy, and loss of hair on the shoulder blades as well as the belly of the ferret. A course of antibiotics can treat this condition. The condition becomes much worse if the disease is left untreated.

5. Blood glucose

If your ferret has a low blood glucose level, then it is most probably suffering from glaucoma. This can cause weakness, lethargy, drowsiness, paralysis, hind limb weakness, seizures and ultimately death.

6. ECE disease

If you bought your ferret from a pet store and even it is new, there is a very high chance that your ferret has ECE. ECE causes nasty runny and green poop, weight loss, loss of appetite, lethargy, and weakness.

7. An off day

There is also a chance that your ferret might just be going through an off day. This does happen with ferrets sometimes. Your ferret might even be suffering from an ulcer and its belly may hurt.

If your ferret does not want to eat especially in the morning, then you should take your fuzzy buddy to the vet. If you are giving your ferret medications, then maybe the dosage of the drugs has to be adjusted.

8. Pain meds

If your ferret is on some kind of pain medications, then maybe they are the reason for your ferret being lethargic and sleeping so much. The pain medication really does have an effect on the ferret and they start behaving differently.

How long do kits sleep?

The baby ferrets generally sleep much more than the older ferrets, and that is about 20 to 22 hours a day. This actually depends on the individual kit as some do not sleep that much.  Baby ferrets are much more interested in the world. They are much more curious, so they might just stay awake in order to explore the world.

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You need to keep an eye on the baby ferrets. If the ferret seems sleepy or looks like it has drooping eyes, then just give the little guy a quiet, comfortable and dark place to sleep. Some of the baby ferrets have to be forcefully put to sleep; in other words, they will not sleep until you make them.

How to know if your ferret is sick

In order to take good care of your ferret, you need to learn to recognize general or life-threatening signs of illness in ferrets, as well as the symptoms that are linked with diseases in ferrets that are very common.

Severe symptoms

1. Respiratory problems

You need to get emergency care for your ferret in case it is in respiratory distress. You need to immediately take the ferret to the vet as soon as you notice any respiratory problems.

The signs of respiratory emergency include no broadening or labored breathing, absent or weak pulse. You can easily feel the pulse of your ferret by putting your fingers on the artery in the inner thigh of the ferret.

The normal heart rate of a ferret is 200 to 400 beats per minute. Another sign of a respiratory problem is muddy looking or pale white gums.

2. Gastrointestinal problems

Serious gastrointestinal can be very bad or even fatal or the ferret. You need to get emergency medical help for your ferret is you notice the following signs

  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Extreme difficulty passing stools or just simple inability to pass stools
  • Tarry or Black stools
  • Watery diarrhea or blood vomiting that is uncontrollable

3. The nervous system

You also need to look for signs if there is something wrong with the nervous system of your ferret. If you witness any of the following symptoms of signs, then immediately take your ferret to the vet.

  • Inability to move hind limbs
  • Seizures
  • Rapid twitching of the eyes
  • Walking on the knuckles or tops of the feet
  • Severe lethargy or unconsciousness
  • Unusual tilting of the head
  • Staggering or walking in circles

4. Urinary problems

Your ferret might suffer from urinary tract problems which might take its life if you fail to recognize the symptoms and take your ferret to the vet. You need to take your fuzzy buddy immediately to the vet if your ferret has difficulty breathing, is unable to urinate, passes blood with urine and cries while urinating.

You need to keep an eye on the frequency and color of the urine of your ferret. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, immediately contact your vet.

General symptoms of illness

1. Appetite

You need to keep an eye on the appetite of your ferret; a loss of appetite can be a signal of a problem. A ferret that does not feel well at all will most probably refuse to eat or eat a lot less than it actually does. If your ferret does not want to eat, call your vet within the next 24 hours even if there is nothing more wrong with your ferret.

2. Weight

Monitor the weight of your ferret. A sudden gain or loss of weight can indicate that there is an underlying problem. You should weigh your ferret once every two weeks in a kitchen scale in order to track its health.

Keep track of the weight fluctuations of your ferret that are normal throughout the year. If there is anything at all unusual, proceed to call your vet.

3. Drooling

You need to also check your ferret for drooling. Drooling is actually a signal for a variety of underlying problems which include metabolic disorders, dental disease, cancer, neurological diseases, gastrointestinal disorders or poisoning.

If your ferret actually drools a lot, then you need to make an appointment immediately with your vet, and then he or she can help you figure out the underlying cause.

4. Diarrhea or Vomiting

Another thing that you should definitely take as a sign of illness is diarrhea or vomiting. If you notice that your fuzzy friend is suffering from diarrhea and has loose stools, or that it vomits more than once throughout the day. You really need to call your vet within 24 hours of all that happening. You also need to seek emergency vet care if you see blood in your ferret’s stools or vomit.

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In order to stay on top of situations like this, regularly check the litter box of your little creature in order to get an idea of the stools that your ferret normally passes. You should contact your vet if find anything out of the ordinary.

Bad breath is also one of the most common signs of illness. Bad breath can be caused by dental diseases and problems with the esophagus in ferrets. If you notice that the breath of your ferret smells really bad, much more than usual. You need to immediately contact your vet and get a diagnosis.

Unusual discharge is also a prominent sign of an underlying illness. Many sick ferrets experience discharge such as excessive tears or mucus from the ears, nose and eyes. If you, unfortunately, notice any of these symptoms, then immediately call your vet.

Signs of diseases

One of the most common diseases in ferrets is adrenals disease. There have been studies that indicate that about 50 percent of the ferrets actually suffer from this disease.

This disease is much common in older ferrets as compared to the younger ones, mostly four years or older. You should check your little creatures coat frequently for any signs of balding, signs of thinning fur or loss of muscle mass. The general symptoms of the adrenal disease include:

  • Weakness or trembling in the hind legs
  • Itching
  • Hair loss on various parts of the body
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Difficulty in urination, especially among ferrets that are female
  • Changes in behavior

Another very common problem among ferrets is dental disease, which can lead to potential infections and systemic diseases.

In order to avoid and protect your ferret from dental disease, you need to brush your ferret’s teeth at the very least twice a month with feline toothpaste and a latex finger brush.

You also need to examine the teeth of your little critter frequently and also check with the vet if you think there is something unusual at play such as

  • Bleeding, redness or swelling of the gums
  • Dark buildup on the teeth of the ferret
  • Missing or blacking of teeth

Ferret FAQs

Q: What are some of the common signs of lymphoma?

A: The most common signs among ferrets suffering from lymphoma are difficulty in breathing, poor appetite or refusal to eat, lethargy, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, bloody stools, weight loss and also weakness in the hind limbs. Lymphoma is actually a kind of tumor that drastically affects the lymph nodes. This condition can also develop in the bone marrow, spleen as well as the liver of the ferret.

Q: How can I treat heart disease my ferrets?

A: There are many ways in which you can actually decrease the impact of heart disease on your ferrets. Firstly you need to get your ferret hooked on a diet that is very low in sodium. You need to feed your ferret low sodium food. The vet may also give you a medicine that will help your ferret get rid of any fluid backups however these drugs can actually dehydrate your ferret. So you need to ensure that your ferret has excess to clean, fresh drinking water at all hours of the day. Give your ferret water in a water dish rather than a water bottle as ferrets are known to drink much more from water dishes.

Q: Can I feed my ferret cat food?

A: Cat food actually has the nutrients that ferrets need, but you should always read the label of the cat food and check out its ingredients before feeding your ferret the product in question. The proteins in the cat food should be derived from meat if you want to feed your ferret that same cat food.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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