Have you noticed your ferret sleeps more often than they should? Are they not eating as much as they used to? Are they no longer excited during play time? Unfortunately, depression is a real and serious issue with ferrets. Ferrets may become depressed if they are not having enough play time outside of the cage or if another ferret has recently passed. Depression can lead to death in ferrets, so it is important to get this fixed as fast as possible.
Depression in Ferrets: A Dangerous Threat
Dogs and cats are much less complicated than ferrets, and mental health issues in dogs and cats are of little threat compared to the mental health of ferrets. It is important to know that if your ferret is exhibiting any of the symptoms of depression, get them help immediately. The most common symptom of depression in ferrets is a lack of interest in playtime. If your ferret is no longer playing or getting excited over play time, this is a very serious symptom that needs to be addressed. Ferrets who have been depressed are often sad and lethargic. They may be cranky, eat less, and not play as much as they should. Your ferret may also be showing signs of self-harm. Ferrets can bite themselves when they are depressed and not feeling well. In severe cases, ferrets can even die from depression.
Causes of Depression in Ferrets
There are several factors that can cause depression in ferrets.
- Dramatic changes to the ferret’s home environment. If the ferret has recently been rehomed, it may be experiencing depression simply because this is a big change. Ferrets may also experience depression if they are used to being with another ferret, but the other ferret has been rehomed.
- Ferret Death. If you had more than one ferret, but one of them died, the other ferret knows the original one is dead and they go into a period of mourning. However this type of depression is just as dangerous as the rest. Some ferrets will simply give up on life after the passing of their friend, so it is important to get them help.
- Dangerous Neighbors. Ferrets can become stressed if introduced to another ferret who may be treating them poorly. Similarly, if another pet or perhaps even a child is tormenting the ferret while they are in their cage, they may become anxious and depressed.
- Disturbance from Lack of Stimulation. If your ferret hasn’t been receiving enough stimulation time outside of their cage, they will become depressed.
How Do I Know if My Ferret is Depressed?
If your ferret is always sleeping, then there could be a possibility that they are depressed. They may also eat less, stop playing with the other ferrets in the house, or are not socializing with their owners. As a rule of thumb, ferrets are known to sleep around 16-18 hours a day, so if your ferret is sleeping more often, these are signs that your ferret could be depressed. If your ferret is traditionally excited when you open the cage for playtime, but they instead are staying asleep or simply do not care that it is play time, this is the most common signal that your ferret is depressed.
What To Do if My Ferret is Depressed
If your ferret is depressed it is important that you contact your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian may take blood or perform a physical exam to check for a physical reason that could be causing your ferret to be depressed. If there is no physical reason, your vet will speak with you about the cause of depression in your ferret and steps you can take to help them. Your vet may also prescribe medicine or suggest a change in diet to help ease your ferret from the symptoms of their depression. It is important to take your furry friend to the vet as soon as possible so they won’t end up “giving up on life”.
Ferrets are amazing animals. Their brains are much like humans, so they can also suffer similar mental health issues as humans. Your ferret may experience depression because of a wide array of causes. If you are noticing your ferret sleeping more than normal, not eating as much as normal, and not being excited during play time, it is time to take your friend to the vet.