My ferret, Emma, has grown lumps (for lack of a better word). She has had them for weeks. We didn't originally think they were anything bad and we assumed they would go away. She first had one slightly above a front paw. It grew bigger. She then developed another one on the same leg but on her shoulder. That one grew very big but neither one of the lumps seem to bother her. She's around 6 years old. Both lumps are black. The lump on her shoulder has been opening up and bleeding. When we actually look at it, it has a small hole. Again, it doesn't seem to bother her but I am desperate for answers.

Hi Chloe:

Poor little Emma!!!  That must surely be painful.  Ferrets are SOOO good at hiding pain that they often don't even look ill until they are at death's door!

In my 20-years experience with ferrets, the only thing I have come across that resembles what you are describing is cancer. PLEASE, PLEASE take this precious little girl to a vet as soon as possible.  If anything, they can either drain the fluid OR even biopsy the tissue to tell you exactly what is going on with her, and IF it is some kind of skin cancer, possibly the vet can remove it before it moves into her organs inside., where death is certain.

This is one of those cases that will require a real ferret specialist, commonly called an Exotics Veterinarian.  You can look for one in  your telephone book (if there is an Exotics Specialist, they will usually advertise as such),  if you don't find one there, you can call your vet and ask for a referral to an Exotics Specialist (unless of course your vet IS an Exotics Specialist), OR, if all else fails, write me again and I can put you either in touch with a ferret shelter or Rescue (because they ALWAYS k ow the best and the most inexpensive vets in the area),  OR a vet specializing in exotics......OR, if all else fails, write me again.  To help you find a specialist in exotics nearest you, I just need your City, State and largest nearby city.  If there is no specialist locally, it MAY be necessary to drive her to a specialist out of town.  I used to have to drive my ferret to a vet 3-1/2 hours away (one way!!), and many others do also.  It seems like not much fun, but most likely your ferret's life depends upon it in this case.

Please don't wait. every day counts when a ferret is sick. Is she eating and/or drinking okay?  If not, it makes it an EMERGENCY that she see ANY vet as soon as possible...call your vet and tell them it is an emergency, that your ferret,  Emma,  is not eating or drinking.....ANY vet should see a ferret the same day if you call them in the morning...as even vet tech's know what an emergency not eating or drinking can mean to a ferret - that it MUST be seen immediately for fluids and exam.   Please make some kind of move and get her to the best help possible as soon as possible, if for no other reason but to see if she is in pain.

I am so very sorry about her lumps and bumps.  My Grandmother once had a dog (when I was a child) who had lumps and bumps and they were simply fatty tissue (the dog was very very obese), but I have never, ever heard of that in ferrets.  I would think that the more likely diagnosis would be cancer, BUT, that is absolutely a guess and she MUST see a vet for a real diagnosis.  I am NOT A VET, just share my experiences with other ferret owners.  In this case, I would be RUSHING her to a vet for a diagnosis.  I have seen nearly everything that can happen to ferrets, but I have never heard of what you are describing happening in a ferret.

Best of luck..please write again and let me know what you find out what is going on with her......that information may help another ferret in the future.  I am always interested in learning more about unusual symptoms and what the final diagnosis is.  That vet also SHOULD be able to tell you if Emma is in pain or not....THAT is very important to find out, as I am sure you don't want her in pain...they hide it so well!!

With sincere thoughts and prayers that little Emma's diagnosis is benign, or that the news about her is good from the vet.

Jacquie Rodgers


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jacquie Rodgers


PLEASE READ ALL BEFORE ASKING QUESTIONS... WHAT I CAN DO: Being a ferret owner for 20 years, I can answer questions re: general care, cage ideas & requirements, healthy foods and snacks, safety issues, ferretproofing play areas, common causes of intestinal blockages, appropriate housing, litterbox training, making bathtime fun, toys, games galore, outdoor trips, "Do`s and Don'ts, traveling w/ferrets by car or RV, safe environmental temperatures & keeping your ferret cool in summer (NOT A FAN!!), setting up a hospital cage, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), helicobacter (ulcers), adrenal disease symptoms & care,intestinal blockages, helping your ferret recover quickly/safely from surgery; common problems of ferret ownership, illnesses; care of sick or injured ferrets, hospice/palliative care, facing & coping with your ferret's death, choices that must be made when a ferret dies, memorializing your pet online and in your daily life. #1 TIP: FIND AN EXOTICS VET BEFORE YOU GET A VET...IF YOU WAIT, YOU MAY FIND YOU HAVE TO DRIVE UP TO 6-HRS TO GET TO A PROPER VET!..if you did not find one first, be WILLING to drive as far as possible for proper care. AND.... #2 TIP: FERRETS ARE EXPENSIVE TO FEED, HOUSE, VET & CARE FOR PROPERLY...IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD ONE/OR NOT READY TO SACRIFICE, PLEASE DON'T GET ONE!! A FERRET IS NOT LIKE HAVING A CAT OR DOG!! THEY REQUIRE MORE TIME, ENERGY, CARE AND MONEY to properly care for them. Prepare to spend up to $8,000-$10,000 OVER A FERRETS LIFETIME (6 to 8 years usually) FOR NECESSITIES & VET CARE. WHAT I CAN`T DO: I can`t take the place of your ferret vet; if your ferret appears sick,PLEASE have your ferret examined by a ferret vet .TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE FOR A SICK FERRET - PLEASE, IF IN DOUBT, GET THEM TO A VET! 24- hours of a ferret not eating/drinking may kill your ferret! NEVER FORCE FEED A SICK..he may choke. Sub-Q or IV fluids from your vet who is not eating WILL help save his life IF he gets it in time.


I have nursed ferrets through many illnesses, an injury, and a variety of diseases over the years.Ferrets are so very delicate, yet incredibly strong-willed; a well-loved ferret will fight courageously to live if given proper medical care, close monitoring, and especially lots of TLC.& LOVE. A ferret can entertain for hours on end when they know they are the center of attention; and they can make even the grumpiest person laugh. They do require a LOT of time, love and daily care, but the love you give a ferret always comes back to you tenfold OR MORE!! I dedicate the time I spend helping others here to my precious little ones who have gone to the Rainbow Bridge. They taught me how to laugh, to love unconditionally....and how to live each & every day to its fullest, and for that I am forever grateful.

Yuma County Humane Society THUNDERING FERRET PAWS Facebook Ferret Group: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/thundering.ferret.paws/ PLEASE JOIN US AND GET ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS AND LEARN FROM EXPERIENCED FERRET OWNERS!

Yuma Daily Sun (local newspaper) recognition for being an outstanding ferret mom and having incredibly well-trained ferrets. I am currently working on book of ferret care to share my experience. JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/thundering.ferret.paws/ for faster answers to your questions and input from other experienced ferret owners. Lots of past questions answered on AllExperts.com that you can still reference by category. If you don't find your answer there, please submit it and I will be happy to help you :-)

I read everything I can get my hands on regarding ferrets, I learn from my great Exotics Vet, and my own experience and interactions with other ferret owners. I am writing a book on ferret care (Great Need for a CORRECT one!) never rely on a ferret book OR a website when your ferret is sick. I can help with suggestions to use IN CONJUNCTION with proper care by your exotics specialist vet (ASK when you call for an appointment whether or NOT your vet has EXPERIENCE in working with EXOTICS..if not, move on and continue to seek one. The wrong vet can KILL your ferret. I learned this early when my ferret hurt his front paw jumping off the couch...a vet, NOT EXOTICS SPECIALIST couln't handle ferret properly because he was afraid of the ferret...and ended up xraying THE WRONGBARM, telling me it was not hurt. I took xray & ferret to EXOTICS SPECIALIST VET 3-hrs away & found out the arm WAS BROKEN & wrong arm had been xrayed. THAT is how important it is to have a PROPERLY TRAINED VET FOR YOUR FERRET!

Awards and Honors
WANT TO BE A FERRET EXPERT? I serve as the resident "guru" for this category. IF YOU WISH TO VOLUNTEER IN THE FERRET CATEGORY, please email me at thunder.paw.ranch@gmail.com and request an application. All volunteers must complete a general ferret information questionaire to be a volunteer in this category. Thanks for your cooperation :-)

Past/Present Clients
I try to educate anyone who is interested in ferrets, as I take my ferrets with me in public a lot. There is a lot of MISinformation out there about ferrets that needs to be dispelled with fact, and ferret owners who need to be keep abreast of the latest and best information. FACEBOOK FERRET GROUP (OPEN): THUNDERING FERRET PAWS - Join us as we all share our pictures, stories & experience!! :-)

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.