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You Have to Clean Your Ferret's Ears
Ferrets rely on their hearing more
than on their eyesight. They also produce lots of earwax, which can
affect their hearing. That's why it's important for you to regularly
inspect and clean those ears. Every other week is a good regimen, though
this does depend on the ferret. (Slinky and Bear get their ears cleaned
each week, while Misty and Stevie are OK with the once-a-month
treatment.) If you don't clean out earwax regularly, a strong odor
results, and your ferret can experience temporary hearing loss and
discomfort from pressure and infections. Worse yet, earwax is an
excellent breeding ground for ear mites.
Because different ferrets have different
amounts and colors of earwax, it's hard to say exactly what's normal.
The earwax is usually light brown, orange, or reddish. Slinky has
chronically dirty ears with dark-brown residue, and Stevie has just a
little tan-colored earwax. Also, the same ferret can produce varying
amounts of earwax at different times of the year (they produce more
during the summer and during seasonal changes).
ferrets hate having their ears cleaned, so the first few cleanings may
be challenging. Some ferrets get used to it and simply sigh and accept
their fate. Others, like my Bear, will struggle forever. If your ferret
is like Bear, you may need help from another person to keep her still.
With practice, however, you should be able to scruff the ferret with one
hand and clean the ear with the other. It might help to distract your
ferret with treats such as Ferretone (some of my ferrets prefer Linatone
How to clean a
Use soft cotton swabs to clean your ferret's
ears. Don't use a dry swab; it will irritate the sensitive skin inside
the ear. Use an ear-cleaning solution or a miticide that is labeled safe
for use in kittens or rabbits (preparations labeled safe for adult cats
or dogs or for puppies may be too harsh). Don't use any preparations
intended to dry out the ear, and don't use rubbing alcohol, which can
destroy ear tissue. Mineral oil, a common home remedy for other pets,
will only add to the oily buildup in the ferret's ear, so I don't
recommend it. Hydrogen peroxide can be used occasionally but it tends to
dry the ear out. In a moment of emergency, you can dampen the cotton
swab with plain tap water. I also recommend cleaning your ferret's ears
during or after her bath to make sure you remove any soap residue.
Moisten the cotton swab with the
ear-cleaning solution and gently wipe it through the crevices of the
outer ear. Ferret ears have lots of folds and pockets in their outer
ear, and it may take several swabs to remove all the debris collected in
these crevices. On average, I use three or four swabs per ferret. Only
clean the part of the ear you can see! Don't push the cotton swab into
the ear canal, even if you see earwax in the canal. If the cotton swab
gets too wet and leaves cleaning solution in the ear, gently dab off the
excess with a dry swab.
Give your ferret a hug when you are through.
She will quickly forgive you for the ear cleaning and be back to her
happy, healthy, playful state!