How to keep your ferret cool in the summer
Whilst we rejoice when the summer sun finally comes out here in the UK, there are some of our beloved pets that don’t enjoy the warmer climates as much as we do.
can be very susceptible to overheating as they start to feel uncomfortable in temperatures above 24 °C and are likely to overheat in temperatures about 30-32 °C. Ferrets are similar to dogs in that they only have a few sweat glands in their footpads and therefore find it extremely hard to cool down due to a lack of perspiration.
This is a serious issue amongst ferret owners and is something that should not be overlooked, as many ferrets have suffered from heat stroke and death due to overheating and dehydration. So it is imperative that you know the signs of heat exhaustion and act immediately.
Symptoms of ferret heat exhaustion:
- Lethargic and lying flat on the floor
- Nose and gums turning a darker shade of pink
- Footpads turning a darker shade of pink or red
- Panting or heavy breathing (heavier than normal)
- Squinted eyes
- Open mouth when resting and possible salivating
- Feels hot and ‘floppy’ when touched or picked up
- Loss of elasticity from the skin (can be tested on their back or shoulder)
If you see any of these signs you must act straight away and try to bring their body temperature down very slowly, so that it doesn’t go into shock. Soak towels in cool water and lay them over the ferret or partially submerge the ferret in tepid (not cold) water. If the animal is conscious, encourage it to drink water. It is also important to take your ferret to a vet in this instance, as the complications from dehydration can be very serious.
Tips on how to keep ferrets cool:
- Make sure that you don’t place their cage in direct sunlight or in front of windows or radiators
- Keeping the room well ventilated
- Spraying a mist of water on their coats is usually consider a game to them, but also works really well!
- Using fans can have little effect because they work by moving the hot air around and cooling down sweat - which ferrets don't produce. If you can place wet towels or sheets in front of the fan or over the cage, this will then cool the air down and be more effective
- Placing non-toxic ice blocks or plastic bottles filled with frozen water, wrapped in a pillowcase can give them something cool to sleep next to
- Plenty of fresh water in bottles and dishes, you can even add ice cubes to make it stay cooler
- If you have a larger cage you can add a shallow bowl of water that they can paddle in, this can provide lots of entertainment too!
It is important to keep in mind that as the day progresses, the temperature also rises. If you are leaving them during the day and can’t keep an eye on them, make sure you are making all the necessary precautions for them to get through the day.