Ferrets - Ear Mites

What are ear mites in ferrets?

ferretAn ear mite called Otodectes cynotis is a common problem for ferrets, and can affect a ferret of any age and sex. Your ferret may acquire ear mites from other affected animals at home, or at the breeder, pet store or animal shelter.

These mites are visible to the naked eye if you look carefully. The ears should be cleaned regularly if dirty.

What are the signs of ear mites on my ferret?

"Early in the infestation, your ferret may not show any signs of ear mites, but the ear may become intensely irritated in time."

  • Early in the infestation, your ferret may not show any signs of ear mites, but the ear may become intensely irritated in time.
  • You may notice that your ferret is shaking its head or scratching itself.
  • Plus you may see a thick reddish brown, almost black material that has built up in the ear canal. Ferrets can be challenging when it comes to ear mites, because they have a similar material accumulation normally in the ears. Ear mites simply make it a little worse.
  • You may also see hair loss and small scratches or wounds in the skin due to your ferret scratching the area.

How can I make sure my ferret does or doesn’t have ear mites?

To identify and properly treat ear mites, bring your ferret to your veterinarian at least once a year for regular examinations. Your veterinarian will examine the ears and crusts for evidence of ear mites and other external parasites.

How will my veterinarian treat ear mites in my ferret?

While there are no ferret-specific drugs for managing ear mites in ferrets, your veterinarian will use products designed for dogs and cats (their use in ferrets is described as “off-label”).

  • Topical cat medications (Ivermectin™ and Revolution™) may help, but these medications should ONLY be used under the guidance of a veterinarian familiar with ferrets.
  • Also it’s very important to clean and treat the environment (including the cage and bedding), especially where the animal resides and visits.
  • Treatment must be long enough to get the last egg hatched.

"Because ear mites can affect dogs and cats, all animals in the house should be treated."

ear-miteIMPORTANT: Consult with a veterinarian familiar with ferrets regarding the proper topical and environmental treatments. Certain products should not be used on ferrets. DO NOT use flea collars, organophosphates, straight permethrin sprays or permethrin spot-ons on your pet ferret.

Because ear mites can affect dogs and cats, all animals in the house should be treated.

Do I have to worry about ear mites affecting me or my family members?

No. Ferret ear mites will not bother people.

This client information sheet is based on material written by: Rick Axelson, DVM

© Copyright 2013 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

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