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Ferrets/Ferret Kit with hind limb weakness


Hi Jaquie,
I've a Marshall Ferret who is around 3 months old. He is chubby, looks so healthy and in good weight (almost 800gr weight!). Everything seems normal in him except that when we got him home from the petstore, we notice that he "walked" in a weird way. His back legs seems weak so he cannot use them to reach higher places. He has movemenet in them and they response to touch. He either doesnt lift up the tail when pooping and has a little incontinence problems (or we think he does, he still so little).
When he plays he keeps trying to jump and is extremly active (dooks like crazy), yet he cries a lot when we put him in the cage (I've another ferrets and I separated him just in case, and put him in a level less big cage for sleep).
I took him to the vet and we took x-rays which doesn't show anything abnormal in the bones and the spinal. The vet felt the tail and legs a bit lousy when checking him, but they look normal in the xrays.
For now we are giving calcium 1ml. He's eating marshall kibble (thats the only one we can get here) and I made him a little duck soup with liver and egg yolk (he eat it completly).
We are so clueless about what could be his condition. Our best guess is that he could get hit in the pet store, but he doesn't seem in pain at all (he plays like crazy).
I hope you can give me some advice and I greatly thank you in advance.

Hi Lizzie:

I am glad you had your little guy x-rayed and examined by your vet.  I think the possibility of an injury before you got him may be a good possibility. He could have had a broken bone that has healed or even just a muscle injury. It is normal for a ferrets tail to be raised when going potty, but I had one ferret who just held his tail somewhat to the side when he went. He had no abnormality in x-rays either, so we assumed it must have been an early injury or even a problem with muscle injury he could have even been born with. So, I feel since he seems otherwise healthy, probably best to treat him as normally as possibly, lots of interaction with both you and your other ferret will help to strengthen his muscles and unless he gets any other symptoms, he is probably okay.

You mentioned he cries when in his cage. Does he only cry when caged with the other ferret, or does the problem seem to be when he is in the multiple level cage?  If it is the cage with multiple levels, you might want to try covering the wire(?) ramps with soft, thick cloth because maybe his little feet are tender on the wires. See if that makes a difference.   He could also be crying just be ause he is a baby and wants to be held...have you tried that?

If his crying seems to be because of being caged with the other ferret, the answer would be to cage them separately; do they play well together?  If the little one seems scared of your other ferret, it is a common problem until they get used to each other and establish who is the alpha ferret (the boss).  Rough wrestling, biting, even screamingand crying while 'fighting'  is normal while this occurs. You only need to separate them IF the baby poops while being attacked or if biting is hard enough to cause bleeding.  Ferret skin is very thick and tough and they do play/fight very rough and it can be scary until they establish alpha.

Generally, however, it is always best to house ferrets together. They are very social creatures and need each others companionship.  So, unless there is a serious continuing, dangerous problem, I would house them together, even if it has to be in a different, larger one-level cage.  Maybe you just need to get one big, single floor cage so there is no ramp.  However, IF you can get the ramp where the little guy can use it, it will help strengthen his leg muscles using it as long as it does not cause pain.   I had a cage at one time with a wire ramp and we replaced it with a wooden ramp covered with carpet that we attached with short nails (be sure they don't stick thru the bottom side or they could cause eye injuries or cuts from the underneath side. Be sure to attach any new ramp very firmly with wire, safely tucked away so it does not stick up anywhere also.

I am sorry Marshalls is the only food you have available where you are.  Have you considered buying food onIne?  Thats what I do so my kids can eat a better quality food. I use a place called Drs Foster & Smith, but there are also other places, The Ferret Depot and several others.  Here is a list of ferret foods listed according to how good they are for your ferrets health:    .  As you can see, Marshallls is really not a good food.  Better quality food also causes thenm to poop much less....less to clean up, plus they get the nutrition they really need.  Being strict carnivores (meat eaters), ferrets do not need all the corn meal and other fillers cheap foods use and it just passes through without giving them any nutrition. On a higher quality food, they even eat less, so the cost really doesn't increase by buying better food.  Try to choose a food that is in the "10" category, the best, or at least in the "9" group.  The further down the list you go on the above chart, the worse the food is.  I hope you will consider changing foods while he is young. It will give him a longer, healthier life.
Liver and egg yolk is good occasionally too, especially the egg, but a better quality food overall would be best. Never give a ferret any kinds of fruit, vegetables or sweets of any kind. Even though some treats have them in them, they are NOT good for ferrets. Always read labels and any word ending in "ose" is a sugar, as are syrups, malts, etc.  The first 4-5 ingredients of any good ferret food should be MEAT (see the food chart for a better understanding.  They all have to have some kind of 'filler' to make kibble, but corn, rice and wheat are all bad fillers.

Hope this helps you. Don't hesitate to write again anytime if I can be of help.  Hope you can find a solution that works for your little guy. I hate to see them caged separately unless absolutely necessary and hopefully one of my recommendations will work for you.

I would also like to invite you to join my onIne ferret group on Facebook called THUNDERING FERRET PAWS. We have over 200 members from all over the world, rescue moms, people with many years of experience, even a vet or two,  and you may even find someone from your area and see where they get their ferret food from :-)  I look forward to seeing you there!


Jacquie Rodgers  


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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 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:!/groups/thundering.ferret.paws/ for faster answers to your questions and input from other experienced ferret owners. Lots of past questions answered on 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!

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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 and request an application. All volunteers must complete a general ferret information questionaire to be a volunteer in this category. Thanks for your cooperation :-)

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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!! :-)

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