Archived Articles : Blockages 2001


One of the most common emergency surgeries in ferrets is the removal of a blockage caused by an indigestible foreign body in the intestine. The range of objects removed during these procedures is varied and, perhaps to some, surprising. Balloons, pieces of foam rubber, condoms, raw carrot, sweet corn kernels and most common of all, foam ear plugs have all been retrieved from digestive tracts of ferrets.  

Diagnosis by the vet is sometimes very difficult because few of the swallowed items show up on x-rays, so some vets choose to open up the ferret and have a look when no other malady can be found. This has often proven to be a lifesaving decision by vet and ferret owner. Some vets are skilled enough to be able to feel a dilation in the gut in front of the blockage to aid their diagnosis, but not all vets are that familiar with a ferret’s anatomy.  

Symptoms of a blockage may include:
General lethargy and vomiting.
Bowel movements may be absent or loose and lacking in bulk.
Dehydration may occur very quickly followed by symptoms of shock.
For this reason it is important to seek medical advice as soon as you see that your ferret is unwell.  
Of course, prevention is better than cure, so despite knowing that ferrets can usually find things better than we can, we need to be vigilant in checking the mouth sized morsels to which our ferrets have access.  


First Published in Issue 99 (March / April 2001)