Hair loss in ferrets can be quite harmless. Unfortunately, it can also be a symptom to an underlying illness. The following are a few guidelines you can follow. I’m not a vet, so take your fuzzy to a ferret qualified vet if you think there may be something serious going on.
Then you shouldn’t be too worried, provided your little carpet shark is in good health and not showing strange behavior. It is generally caused by stress. A change in environment, new family member (furry or not) or even by the seasonal change of coat can cause enough stress to give your fert a “rat tail”.
It’s often referred to as tail alopecia and very common in males. It can take several months for all the hair on the tail to grow back.
Also, don’t worry if you see little black spots on his tail. These could be the cause of your ferret losing hair on his tail. It is pretty common and can be compared to blackheads in humans. You can gently clean the tail to get rid of them by using water or something like oxipads. When the pores are open, the fur will generally start to grow back again.
Then you should consult a vet asap. Hair loss in ferrets could be a sign of adrenal disease. This disease can be treated by surgery or through medication, the sooner you start the treatment, the better your fuzzies chances of surviving.
This is Megan who died from adrenal disease at 3 years of age,
picture by Stacy Lynn Baum.
Ok, adrenal disease is the worst case scenario. I put it first to give you a little push to take Mister Fuzzybutt to the vet. There are plenty of other reasons for hair loss in ferrets though.
Poor diet is one of them. If you have more than one fuzzballs, you’ll notice that they all will suffer from hair loss. Read up on high quality food for ferrets. Of course it could also be a food allergy. Especially if you just started feeding your fuzzy a new brand, try switching back to the brand he was used to. And consult your vet.
Another pretty common problem are fleas and mites. Again, all other ferrets will most likely be affected by those little buggers. Some basic ferret flea control will give your fuzzies their shiny, soft coats back.
A bacterial or fungal infection can also cause hair loss in ferrets. Your vet should be able to rule that out.
Have you cleaned the ferret cage or the floors where he walks with a different cleaning product? Then it could be a simple case of allergy. Clean everything again with your old products and see whether there’s any improvement.
He could even be allergic to your body lotion.
Dry skin is another possible cause. If you give your ferret a bath too often for example, your fuzzball can get dry and itchy skin. A daily dose of ferretone and no more baths should do the trick.
There’s also something called endocrine alopecia. Professional vet lingo meaning your ferret is losing hair due to a hormonal imbalance. It usually develops in the following pattern; first the base of the tail will go bald, then the back part of the legs, and then the rest until most or all of the hair is gone.
Prolonged heat can be another cause. Make sure your fuzzy stays in a climate controlled room if you live in a region with high temperatures.
Lastly, there’s the seasonal shedding. Some fuzzies shed a lot of hair and get a drier coat in the summer (I know it’ spring when Nibbler goes from puffy furball to sleek speedbump). Obviously that’s not much to worry about. Some extra vitamin supplements will keep him in good shape.
As I mentioned above, please, please, please take your fuzzy to the vet if he seems out of sorts.