So you’re pretty sure your ferret has fleas and you want to know the best ferret flea treatment. Unless you want the problem to spread and get worse, it’s critical that you follow the ferret flea protocol outlined below. To accomplish that, you will need to learn the basics of what a flea is (and what makes them so hard to get rid of with ferrets) as well as what treatments are safe or toxic for ferrets. This is your ultimate guide to getting rid of fleas. Let’s dive in! Are you new to ferrets and feeling a bit overwhelmed? We’ve got you covered. Check out our Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Ferrets to learn everything you need to know about this amazing and often misunderstood pet. Can a Ferret Get Fleas? Yes! Ferrets can get fleas just like dogs and cats and other household animals. Your ferret is most likely to get the cat flea (Ctenophalides felis), but if they spend a lot of time outdoors, they may be susceptible to getting other types of fleas as well. Source: 1800-PetMeds How to Tell if Your Ferret has Fleas Ferrets are naturally itchy animals. However, your ferret may have fleas if they are scratching themselves more than normal. Here are some more signs your ferret has fleas: Your ferret is scratching themselves more than normalYou see ‘flea dirt’ that looks like pepper on their body or beddingYou see a flea on your ferret (black, about half the size of a chia seed) Fleas vs. Ear Mites: Know the Difference In addition to fleas, ear mites are another common cause of itchiness and irritation in ferrets (more on ferret illnesses here). How can you tell the difference between fleas and ear mites? Fleas are big enough to be seen by the naked eye. You can spot them crawling on your ferret’s body (they will resemble a small black chia seed). Ear mites on the other hand, are too small to be seen by the naked eye. If you see something crawling on your ferret, it is not an ear mite. It is a flea (or possibly a tick). Closeup of mite and fleas infected on dog fur, sucking its blood If your ferret has fleas, you will also most likely see ‘flea dirt’ on your ferret’s body. Here is a picture of ‘flea dirt’ (which is actually flea poop): Why Your Ferret Probably Got Fleas Fairview Animal Hospital does a great way at explaining how your pet got fleas, even if they spend all of their time indoors. Here is the jist: Fleas are ectoparasitic or ‘external parasites’ meaning they spend most their lives away from their host (ie. Your ferret). Your ferret most likely got fleas because one flea decided to ‘hitch a ride’ on a dog or a human or even an item of clothing that brought them from the great outdoors into your home. Once the flea got in your home, they hopped on your ferret and completed their life cycle (bit your ferret, laid eggs), infesting your ferret. FACT: According to Vet Street, milder temperatures and increased humidity help pests like fleas thrive. That means your ferret is especially prone to getting fleas in the summer. Where Fleas are Hiding in Your House Right Now If you found fleas on your ferret, you most likely have fleas in several areas around your home and backyard. Here are the most common places to find fleas: On your ferret’s body (check between shoulder blades and stomach)In your ferret’s beddingIn your ferret’s hammockYour carpet On your couchDamp areas outside like shaded bushes and trees FACT: Flea eggs can remain dormant for up to two years. Understanding the Flea Life Cycle In order to get rid of fleas once and for all, you need to understand the flea’s life cycle. Here is a chart: After a new adult flea lands on your ferret, they can begin to lay eggs within two days. The flea eggs fall from your ferret’s fur and onto your ferret’s surrounding environment (think bedding, blankets, hammocks, carpet). Two days later, the flea egg hatches and becomes larva (larva can live on your ferret’s fur). Two weeks after hatching, the flea larva forms a cocoon that will later hatch and become an adult flea. Why Does This Matter? Some flea treatments only kill fleas at certain life cycles, instead of in all stages. The best way to get rid of fleas is to choose a method that gets rid of adult fleas, flea eggs, flea larva, and flea cocoons. Best Ferret Flea Treatment There are a few flea medications that are approved for use in ferrets. You can pick up ferret flea treatment at Petsmart, Petco, or online. Advantage II for Small CatsAdvantage II for Ferrets (Over 1 lb)Kitten safe shampoo PLEASE NOTE: Even ferret-safe flea treatments may be harmful to especially young, old or vulnerable ferrets so please consult your vet. Sources: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/immunology-and-microbiology/ctenocephalides http://www.cypresskeep.com/Ferretfiles/Fleas.htm Toxic Ferret Flea Treatment BiospotDefendFlea collars (they contain dichlorvos, which can cause serious health problems)Cedar Oils (used in many ‘natural’ flea repellents)Flea DipsDawn Dish SoapFlea SpraysFlea PowdersPyrethrins (controversial and not recommended)PermethrinOrganophosphatesCarbamatesPetroleum distillates Should I Treat My Ferret or My Home First? Treat your ferret before you treat your home so that fleas do not keep re-infesting your home. How to Rid Your Home of Fleas Treat your ferret for fleas firstWash all your ferret’s bedding, blankets, and hammocks in hot water every other day for 7 daysTreat all your floors and furniture with flea powder or spray (remove ferrets until it is safe)Vacuum daily for a week to agitate the eggs in the carpet and remove larvae. You can use flea bombs for serious infestations (consult vet beforehand, always remove ferret) When is the Best Time to Start Using Flea Control Products? The best time to use ferret flea treatment is before your ferret gets fleas, especially during the warmer summer months. We use Advantage II for Ferrets. How Long Does it Take to Get Rid of Fleas? A bad flea infestation can take 2-3 months to get rid of. As soon as you see fleas on your ferret, consult your vet immediately for advice. Once you’ve identified a ferret-safe medication, begin treatment. Then create a regular routine of cleaning your home (floors, furniture, bedding) until the flea problem is gone. In our experience it takes about two weeks. Recommended Steps to Get Rid of Ferret Fleas: Identify fleas on ferret and consult vet for a ferret-safe medicationUse a flea comb to remove as many fleas as possible from your ferret (put them in a ziplock bag, don’t let them fall off the brush)Apply vet-approved ferret flea medication to your ferret (treat all pets in household)Place your ferret in a travel carrier with no bedding or blankets while you clean their cageRemove all bedding from your ferret’s cage and wash on hot (hammocks, blankets)Scrub cage thoroughly with hot, soapy waterPlace ferret away from treatment areasUse flea powders or bombs (MUST keep ferret away, out of home)You may need to repeat powder/bomb after 7-21 days if fleas returnVacuum every day for one week to kill eggs and larva (empty vacuum bag after each time) FAQ Can fleas kill a ferret? Fleas are very irritating for your ferret. Some ferrets can develop bald spots from itching and allergic reactions. A stressed ferret can lose sleep and stop eating, causing serious health problems. If your ferret is bitten enough times by fleas, they can risk becoming anemic. Also, fleas can also carry diseases and if ingested, your ferret may get tapeworms. Source: http://www.cypresskeep.com/Ferretfiles/Fleas.htm Will ferret fleas go away on their own? No, fleas will not go away on their own. As long as they have a host (your ferret), they will keep multiplying and irritating your ferret. Can I use cat flea treatment on my ferret? Some flea medications and flea shampoos are toxic to your ferret. Just because a product is safe for a cat does not mean it is necessarily safe for a ferret. Please consult your vet before picking one. As a general rule, flea shampoo and medication marketed for dogs is not safe for ferrets. Conclusion If you want to get rid of fleas, you need to get ready for battle. Follow the recommendations above and stick with it for at least 2 weeks, if not one to two months. These techniques will rid your home of fleas once and for all, which will directly in result in a happier ferret and a happier you! To prevent fleas before you have them, you can buy Advantage II for Ferrets.