Pregnancy in Ferrets: Signs and How To Care For Them

Just like Humans, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian to confirm the pregnancy and receive guidance.
Pregnancy in Ferrets

Congrats, your ferret is pregnant! If you are a first time owner however, you might be confused as to how to care for it. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you identify when your ferret is pregnant, and how to navigate this awesome stage in your ferret’s life.

Signs of Pregnancy in Ferrets

Swollen belly

One of the most noticeable signs of a pregnant ferret is a swollen belly. This can be observed around 3-4 weeks into the pregnancy. Also note that a swollen belly can also be a result of other health issues, so consult with your veterinarian for confirmation.

Weight gain

A pregnant ferret will gain weight throughout her pregnancy, which typically lasts around 42 days. You may notice her gaining weight gradually, especially in the abdominal area.

Nesting behavior

Pregnant ferrets often exhibit nesting behavior in preparation for the arrival of their kits (baby ferrets). They may start to collect bedding materials and create a comfortable and secure space to give birth.

Increased appetite

A pregnant ferret will require more food to support her growing kits, so you may notice an increase in her appetite. Be sure to provide her with a balanced diet to ensure she gets all the necessary nutrients.

Behavioral changes

Pregnant ferrets may display changes in their behavior. They could become more affectionate, lethargic, or even aggressive.

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• Affectionate – Ferrets may become more cuddly and want to spend more time with their owners. They may seek out additional petting, scratches, and attention. This is due to hormonal changes that makes the ferret crave comfort and security.

• Lazy – Pregnant ferrets will often become more lethargic and sleep a lot more. They may not want to play or zoom around as much. This is because pregnancy puts additional demands on their bodies and requires more rest and conservation of energy.

• Aggressive – In some cases, ferret hormones can make them more easily irritated or aggressive, especially towards other ferrets. They may snap, bite or hiss more often. This is temporary and often subsides after the pregnancy and kits are born.

Protective – Ferrets may become more defensive of their living space and hideouts. They will want to nest and prepare to give birth, so they may become more territorial to protect their future babies.

Be patient and understanding during this time, as your ferret is going through hormonal changes. Providing extra patience, space and comfort can help make the experience easier for both you and your pregnant ferret.

Confirming Pregnancy in Your Ferrets

If you suspect your ferret is pregnant, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian to confirm the pregnancy and receive guidance on how to care for her during this time. The vet may use one or more of the following methods to determine if your ferret is pregnant:

  1. Palpation: A veterinarian can palpate (feel) the abdomen of your ferret to detect the presence of developing embryos. This method is most effective between 2-3 weeks into the pregnancy.
  2. Ultrasound: An ultrasound can provide a more accurate and detailed diagnosis of pregnancy. This method can be used from 3 weeks into the pregnancy and can also help determine the number of kits.
  3. X-ray: An X-ray can be used to confirm pregnancy in the later stages, around 4-5 weeks when the kits’ skeletons have developed enough to be visible.
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Caring for a Pregnant Ferret

If your ferret is confirmed to be pregnant, it is essential to provide her with proper care and support to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Here are some ways you can properly care for them:

#1/ Provide extra calories

Ferrets need a nutrient-rich diet that is high in protein during pregnancy. They will need extra calories to support the growth of the kits. Switching to a high-quality ferret kit or pregnant ferret kibble is recommended during this stage. Provide plenty of fresh water as well.

#2/ Soft nesting materials are important

Ferrets need soft nesting material to build their nests. Provide soft blankets, towels, rags or shredded paper for your ferret to arrange into a nesting area. They will want a warm, secure place to give birth.

#3/ Environmental adjustments

Make sure your ferret has a quiet, dark den or area of the cage to nest in. Minimize loud noises, disturbances and handling as the due date approaches. Your ferret needs a safe, secure place to deliver her kits.

#4/ Delivery

Watch your ferret closely as the due date nears. Signs of labor include nesting behavior, restlessness, loss of appetite and vaginal discharge. During delivery, your ferret may strain, have contractions and isolate herself. Monitor but do not assist unless true difficulties arise.

#5/ Afterbirth care

After delivery, your ferret will need to feed and groom her kits. Leave her alone with the babies for at least 2 weeks. Check in occasionally but avoid excessive disturbances.

#6/ Weaning

Kits will start to explore outside the nest at 3-4 weeks. They can begin eating solid foods and transition away from mother’s milk at 6-8 weeks. Consult with your veterinarian for bespoke tips on how to wean the kits off their mother.

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Wrapping up

By understanding the signs of pregnancy in ferrets and providing proper care, you can help ensure the health and well-being of your pregnant ferret and her soon-to-be-born kits.

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