Ferret depression (A full guide)

In this post, we will discuss the topic “ Ferret Depression”, clinical features and symptoms of Depression,  ferret and its types, unhappy ferret, causes of depression in the ferret, treatment options for a depressive ferret and finally some frequently asked questions around the topic. 

Why are Ferrets depressed?

Ferrets are vulnerable to depression because:

  • They are emotionally weak and vulnerable
  • Ferrets feel low when neglected 
  • They feel alone and isolated when parted from their peera and playmates
  • Change of ownership
  • They feel isolated when not given proper treatment.

What is Depression?

Depression is believed to be the key cause of disability around the world. It is a mood disorder characterised by the feeling of persistent and prolonged low mood, sadness, loss of interest in pleasurable activities: anhedonia, feeling down and low throughout the day, weeks and months. 

Although the feeling of sadness and loss of pleasure is familiar and a normal feeling to every one of us, depression is something that persists and causes severe impairment in an individual’s life. It can affect people from any age group ranging from children, adolescent, adult and geriatric population.

The duration of depressive episodes differs and varies from each individual wherein, for some cases, it lasts for about 2 weeks while in others it might persist for months and years.

Symptoms of Depression

Despite Depression being a mood disorder and causing severe impairment in the individual, there are other associated effects of depression in the everyday functioning of the individual. 

It can take a toll on one’s psychological health, physical health, job performance, social relation and overall well-being. 

The three noting symptoms of Depression are:

  • Fatigability, tiredness and feeling of exhaustion
  • Anhedonia, loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Depressed mood or prolonged sadness

Some of the other signs and symptoms of Depression are:

  • Sustained and prolonged depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities or those that one enjoys doing
  • Loss of sexual drives
  • Fluctuations in body weight
  • Disruption in sleep cycle resulting in insomnia and hypersomnia
  • Muscle agitation, restlessness and twitches
  • Disruption and disturbance in speech
  • Fatigue and low energy in performing daily task
  • A feeling of worthlessness and excessive guilt
  • Recurrent thoughts on death, suicide and attempts for suicide.
  • Impairment in concentration and attention

These are some of the major signs and symptoms of Depression. The severity and the interference of these symptoms differ and varied individually owing to other underlying reasons.


Ferrets are also called fitchets which belong to the family of weasel. There are two carnivore species of ferret known as the common ferret and the black-footed ferret. 

Common ferret is domesticated, resembling the size and habit of European Polecat. Common ferrets are a popular pet and they are tame, inquisitive and very playful by nature. Since they are adaptable, they rely on their owner to a point of not being able to stay apart from that. Ferrets subsist on water as well as meat.

Black-footed ferrets are endangered species and resemble common ferrets in their color. But they differ from common ferrets by their black mask near their eyes and markings on their feet and tail. They usually remain solitary however during the breeding seasons, they interact. Female ferrets usually raise their kids alone. Ferrets that are captivated tend to live longer, usually upto 12 years. 

Unhappy Ferret

Ferrets can be emotionally sensitive and very emotional like a human, and when they undergo such a feeling, they tend to display it through different signs and symptoms which are all evident enough and understandable to take an action.

The only problem for the ferret is to convince or make the owner understand the severity of the emotional hurdles they are experiencing.

There are different reasons and causes of depression and low mood in the ferret, while some can be personal such as social and medical issues, there are more that impact their mood.

Some of the causes of unhappy and depressed ferrets are:

Death of their company

The loss of ferret’s treasured companion for all-time results in the unhappy ferret. They will then remain isolated and refuse to play around. Other than that, they will refuse to eat any sort of food served to them.

Medical cause or conditions

Some of the reasons contributing to the low and depressed mood in the ferret are known after doing a medical examination and testing. 

A ferret knowledgeable vet can diagnose and understand the underlying cause of low and depressed mood in the ferret. Some of the medical issues that result in behavioural change as well as mood swing in ferret are”

  • Insulinoma: it is pancreas cancer in the ferret that results in confusion, an outburst by collapsing and lethargy.
  • Adrenal Neoplasia: it results in the ferret to be babied with toys around
  • Cardiomyopathy, infections in the system and other related medical conditions that result in lethargy.
  • Certain discomfort that results in grumpiness and their refusal to eat.

The occurrence and severity of these medical conditions in ferret vary by age. Certain conditions can occur together requiring medical help while others aren’t that severe and strong to seek professional help

Sudden change in their lifestyle

When the ferret is raised in a particular environment and setting for a prolonged period of time, a sudden minute change in their lifestyle can result in severe depression. They fail to cope up with the change or novelty around resulting in mood swings and behavioural change too.

Change of ownership

When the owner of the ferret is changed, due to attachment that has developed over a period of time with the old owner, they show serious mood swing and behavioural change that might result in depressive episodes in the ferret.

Neglection and Poor treatment

A circumstance of poor and negligent treatment for the ferret can make them extremely sad and low. This might result in an exhibition of serious depressive symptoms of the ferret. And if the unfair and poor treatment lasts for a long time, it results in long term depression.

These are major reasons behind depression and low mood in the ferret. Owing to these causes, there are associated symptoms of the ferret that should be taken caution of.

Symptoms of depression in Ferret

There are different ways through which ferrets exhibit their symptoms. While certain symptoms require immediate help from a vet or medical professional, others do get away in time and the ferret behaves better.

The symptoms shown by Ferret are:

They run around the house and acting in confused manner

When ferrets are depressed and tend to undergo low feelings, they start urinating and defecating at different places. Their behaviour in the home is often confused and thus, causes certain insecurities. 

Often they urinate in places when they smell something pungent and feel lingering scent around. Since ferrets are by nature scent oriented animals, when they feel a pungent smell around their space, they start urinating. 

Ferret sleep with toy

When the ferret sticks by the toy they adore, it is a result of insecurity and indicates a certain medical issue of the ferret. The ideal way to get rid of the insecurity in them is to show them plenty of attention and spend time.

Sit at a particular place and refuse to play around

When the ferret stays at a particular place and refuses to play with their mates, it is a serious medical condition. Owner should take note of it. 


Since the symptoms of depression shown by humans and ferrets are not really different, thus, when they are depressed they tend to avoid interaction and react in a lethargic manner. They seem blue and exhausted.


Depressed ferret doesn’t interact and mingle with other ferrets. When a ferret who is usually very reactive and sociable secludes themselves from others, it is a sign of serious medical condition. Ferret will be unresponsive to others and it symbolises serious medical concerns. 

Retarded Appearance 

Depression changes the appearance and physical features of the ferret and in most of the cases, this goes unnoticed by the people. 

Ferret would shut themselves from others. There is noticeable weight change and fluctuation in the ferret when they are depressed. It is often an indicator of serious medical concern.

Lack of appetite

Ferret would refuse to eat when regular meals are served. And they would also reject nomal treat they usually enjoy and favour. It indicates a serious case of depression in the ferret when they refuse eating completely.

Since ferrets have a small appetite with increased metabolism, they constantly have to eat something throughout the day. Failing and refusing to eat results in severe depression.

Treating ferrets with depression

The symptoms of depression in ferrets are distressing both for the owner and themselves, thus, there are different treatment options for the owner to take care of the ferrets with depression.

Some of the ways or treatment of ferrets are:

Finding games to keep them engaged

There are different games that can be used either as a treatment to the ferret or a leisure for them. Despite the cause of depression in the ferret, providing enough care for the ferret by engaging in different sorts of game can reduce the severity of their symptoms and make them feel better.

Providing proper care and enough treatment 

Since ferrets feel low and depressed due to neglect, the owner can thus provide them enough care by offering food, extra playtime and supportive surroundings with playmates. Small things like cleaning the cage of ferrets can also provide safety and comfort for the ferret.

Not to replace their playmates

It is often devastating and saddening when the playmates of ferrets are frequently changed, thus making sure that their playmates and peer group are with them throughout can help the ferret feel better.  Spending more time with the ferret will also help them feel better and happier.

Understanding the reason behind their depression

The ultimate and best cure of ferrets with depression is to understand the reason behind their depressive symptoms. If the reasons behind their depression are unknown and they are treated for short term, it results in relapse of depression in later years. Since they are prone to emotional upset and mood swings, the ideal treatment lies in keeping check of their mood. 

These are some of the treatments that a ferret owner can do to get rid of the depressive symptoms shown by the ferret and to make them feel better. 

FAQs: Ferret Depression

Do ferrets get depressed?

Yes, ferrets are prone and vulnerable to depression and they often feel low and depressed.

How do I know if my ferret is sad?

The ferret will run around the house and act confused, they will sleep with their toy, refuse to eat and play, ferrets act grumpy and sound off, these are the symptoms shown when the ferret is depressed.

Can ferrets die of loneliness?

Yes, the lifespan of ferrets is small and they may die of loneliness due to prolonged mourning periods.

How do I know if my ferret is happy?

When ferrets are happy, they react in positive manners and act extremely excited. They are also eager to interact.

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In this post, we have discussed the topic “ Ferret Depression”, clinical features and symptoms of Depression,  ferret and its types, unhappy ferret, causes of depression in ferret, treatment options for depressive ferret and finally some frequently asked questions around the topic. 

Links for further details and information


How to Gauge Your Ferret’s Mood


The editors of encyclopedia Britannica. (2020). Ferret. Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/animal/ferret

Ferret care and problems. (n.d.). Ferret depression symptoms. What to look out for. https://www.ferretproblems.com/ferret-depression-symptoms-what-to-look-out-for/

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