Gastrointestinal Disease in the Ferret

Key Points

  • The ferret is a carnivore with a short, simple gastrointestinal tract and a relatively rapid gastrointestinal transit time. The ferret lacks a cecum and an ileocolic junction.
  • Diarrhea is the one of the most common clinical sign in ferrets. Weight loss and anorexia are also important signs of gastrointestinal disease in the ferret.
  • Anorexia is the primary clinical sign of gastrointestinal foreign bodies in young ferrets (<2y)
  • Important causes of diarrhea in young ferrets include coccidiosis, rotavirus, and stress or diet change induced ulceration or hypermotility.
  • Ferrets of all ages may be afflicted with Helicobacter ulcerative gastritis and ferret enteric coronavirus (FECV).
  • Middle-aged to older ferrets (>3y) may suffer from inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal lymphoma.

The ferret is a carnivore with a short, simple gastrointestinal tract and a relatively rapid gastrointestinal transit time. Diarrhea is the most common clinical sign in ferrets with gastrointestinal disease, with the exception of gastrointestinal foreign bodies where anorexia and weight loss are the primary presenting complaints . . .

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To cite this page:

Johnson-Delaney C. Gastrointestinal disease in the ferret. June 1, 2010. LafeberVet Web site. Available at