Q: I have never had a pet ferret before, so I am very new to this and am not sure what to expect. I have a 12-week-old, female, black sable kit. When I got her (a week ago), she was very happy, playful and curious. She loved my attention, loved to play and be snuggled. She would even play and entertain herself in her cage. She has a little bed she sleeps in and loves, and a few favorite toys too. Just two days ago I took her to the vet for her first checkup and her first distemper shot. She was in great health other than having ear mites (which I know is very common). The vet put a tiny bit of Revolution on the back of her neck and said that it should do the trick. Gave her the distemper shot (the one especially for ferrets only) and sent us on our way. That day she slept a lot, which makes sense considering that she had gone through a lot that day. But the next day she started acting very odd. She pretty much quit sleeping, she won’t play and every time she’s out of the cage she acts frantic. She is hissing and biting (something she never did at all) and cowers in the opposite corner of her cage that her bed is in. She acts afraid of every little sound and doesn’t make her happy chuckles and do the war dance anymore. But she is still eating, drinking and going potty normally. She just acts like she is on high alert and is terrified of everything, and won’t sleep, period. She just sits in the corner and stares blankly, and any movement, sudden or not, makes her freak out and hide. I took her back to the vet today, and the vet saw the symptoms and wasn’t sure what to do other than saying that it could be a reaction to the Revolution. I am looking for other opinions and am very worried.
A: What you are describing, a serious change in personality, is very unusual. Both anti-mite medication and the ferret distemper vaccine are given to tens of thousands of ferrets and the reaction you are describing is almost unheard of.
What is important to figure out is if the change in personality is a behavior reaction or a medical reaction. Meaning, is your new ferret “untrusting” of human interaction because of the veterinary visit. Or is there a medical reason for this sudden change of personality? Could there have been an underlying medical condition that was not apparent until the veterinary visit?
To get to the bottom of this problem, it was essential that you take her back to the veterinarian for a re-examination. It is possible that if there is a medical basis for the personality change, it could take more than one return visit for your veterinarian to determine the underlying issue. But, using your own words, “… looking for other opinions,” there is nothing wrong with that concept, and it might be worthwhile to visit another ferret-knowledgeable veterinarian in your area. Perhaps, there is something that another set of eyes looking at your ferret may pick up that the initial doctor did not. What makes your ferret’s situation unique is that what you are describing is very unusual and it is not possible to pinpoint a distinct cause for these changes.