Ferret Life

Can you get rabies from a ferret

Can you get rabies from a ferret?

Ferrets are cute, friendly, playful and delicate animal, people household them as a pet in the USA. Though, they pretty love creature they can get you sick sometimes if not handled with care. In some states, it is not allowed / legal to keep at home when you have children less than 5 years age as it increases the risk of disease from the bite. Let’s know can you get rabies from a ferret?

Ferrets can cause different skin infections toward serious illness. So it’s better to get your ferret vaccinated on time and prevent any disease to spread. When your ferret is sick then you should wash your hands with soap. While handling it and after serving them food or items.

Can you get rabies from a ferret?

Rabies is infectious to mammals (including dogs, ferrets, and human) and severe invariably fatal viral encephalitis. Ferret receives a virus through a mucous membrane or via the wound of the rabid animal by biting.

It rapidly transfers in the neural pathways of the central nervous system and affects other organs. Somehow, the ferret is not good receivers of such disease unless they wander about outside. The houses and gets in touch with an infected animal.

Since 1954 only 20 cases of rabies in ferrets have been reported in the US. Whereas rabies in other animals is quite high in the world.

Types of rabies and symptoms

There are four strains endemic within (fox, skunk, bat and raccoon populations) in the United States, all can be transmitted to ferrets. The clinical symptoms of rabies in ferrets are usually mild at first and increase later including (anxiety, lethargy, and posterior partial paralysis).

Ferret doesn’t get sick of the furious form of rabies-like in other mammals. These are other symptoms include (Disorientation, seizures, apprehension, nervousness, irritability, biting or snapping, biting at the cage, wandering, roaming, and excitability)

Change in behaviour

You can observe several changing in the ferret while contracting with the rabies virus as his mood swings and exhibits signs of paranoia and nervousness. He will react or posture like defensive and move with unusual nervousness and it will exceed into disorientation, irritability, and lethargy in ferret and he will make himself stationary position and react negatively to everyone comes near him.


Hydrophobia means acute fear of water is the biggest sign of rabies in ferret which refers to an inability of the animal to process. For example, if a ferret drinks water he cannot consume the water because of strong muscle spasm that prevents it to swallow. This can cause quick dehydration in a ferret.


The other symptom of rabies in the ferret is the production of extremely large volumes of saliva a ferret excrete. You can find out it easily when you will notice the ferret’s mouth excessively drooling foaming saliva. Also sometimes lips are stretched backward to expose teeth that condition results in saliva leaving from mouth more quickly. You better should take him to the vet when these symptoms expose to you in your ferret.


If rabies went unnoticed and progressed in ferret then it will cause extreme aggression for other pets in the locality. It can make him more irrational that he begins clawing and biting evens its owner or other animals as they came near to him.

In case if your sick ferret, bites you or any other pet then you should go for medical treatment immediately otherwise it will show symptoms of the virus in you if left untreated for a long time. So rabies can be transferred to you by the ferret.

Loss of motor function

This is the last stage of rabies in the ferret that causes a gradual degradation of the ferret’s ability to coordinate its body. He won’t be able to walk properly as its limbs will be partial paralyze. With time, seizures will begin to wrack the ferret’s body until it finally expires and you will lose your ferret.

Causes of rabies in ferret

Rabies virus belongs to a Rhabdoviridae group which is a single-stranded RNA virus of the genus Lyssavirus and transmits to people and animals through infected animals from biting or saliva or scratches from unvaccinated dogs and cats.

It rarely happens with a ferret that they get rabies until they left alone outside the home, where they interact with other rapid animals or breathe escaping gases from the decomposing animal carcasses.


If you find out your ferret is infected with rabies must call your vet in the first instance. And if it is behaving weird and you cannot control it as it is trying to attack you then you must not take risk of its biting and call the animal control to catch your ferret.

Usually, veterinarian keeps your ferret who is suspected as infected or really infected with rabies, quarantined in a locked cage for 10 days. This will keep your ferret safe and sound until it recovers or can observe in a better way as rabies may be confused with other conditions of aggression.

So the vet will take a blood sample and have a laboratory blood analysis to make sure its rabies virus or not. Yes, this is not the vet’s task to take a blood sample so he will contact the laboratory.

A state-approved laboratory for rabies in the United States diagnosis using the process of post-mortem direct fluorescence. If your ferret dies while in quarantine then the vet will collect fluid samples.  If it starts showing progressive signs of rabies then your vet will opt to put it to sleep.

Treatment of rabies in ferrets

The infected ferret must be placed in quarantine. So its condition must be monitored because of the dangerous nature of the rabies virus. Such conditions cannot be treated if the virus progressed in the ferret. So the vet will suggest you euthanize your pet rather than letting the disease take its course.

There is no treatment available until now so keep in mind that if you buy a ferret for home then you should keep vaccinated him time to time to prevent rabies and any other diseases that can also be harmful to you.

How can you get rabies from ferret?

Ferrets are loving and friendly creatures and very social among most animals. But also so sensitive to carry diseases and pose hazards to people who handle them.

Your ferret can get bacteria and parasites like (Campylobacter, Salmonella, Giardia, and Cryptosporidia) in their intestinal tract. Which can spread it to you while cleaning and removing litter boxes.

Ferret also can carry other diseases like (ringworm fungus, fleas, and scabies mites). Which infects you while you handle them because of their inquisitive nature of biting. Especially when children make quick moves.

Vaccination for ferrets against rabies

In the United States of America, ferrets can be vaccinated for the prevention of rabies and it is necessary to start vaccination for your ferret at the age of 4 months. To save the life of animal rabies immunization is necessary with booster shots of;

  • Campylobacterosis
  • Giardiasis
  • Salmonellosis
  • Rabies prevention

It is not necessary you get rabies from ferret when he bites you. But, as well as rabies in the ferret, can be transmitted to you through wounds, saliva, scratches, abrasions, and infected material from a rabid animal.

However, other types of contact cannot infect you like petting, handling rabid ferret, contact of blood, urine or feces of sick animals. Which are not associated with the risk of rabies transfer rate.

You should be known to it that rabies lost its infection in direct sunlight when dries out. Different regional environmental conditions may affect the rate of the contagious virus. As inactive, but in general, if the material containing the virus is dry, the virus can be considered noninfectious.

Prevention of disease

Ferret owners are generally good about vaccinating their ferrets against rabies. Even though there is very little chance of pet ferrets coming in contact with rabies.

A few years back CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in Atlanta issued a statement. According to that humans are less risky to get rabies from ferret than to get it from other animals like (dogs, rabbits, cats, and fox). In 1954 it was reported only 25 documented cases of rabies in ferret were seen.

With the advancement of technology and sciences, CDC conducted research on ferrets and rabies with 5 different experiments. The result showed that ferrets might contract with rabies but cannot pass it on to animals or humans.

The recent research shows that they die when they become carriers as a well-known pediatrician in mountain lakes. He said “both of which are known ‘carriers’ of rabies and able to pass on the infection through a bite wound”.  It clearly means that petting the sick ferret and handling it doesn’t pass the disease to humans or another animal; until or through bites from a rabid animal or through the wound.

Thank you for visiting TheFerretCage. Keep visiting our site to get more informational articles.

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