Mange in Ferrets

By PetMD Editorial on Aug. 11, 2008

Sarcoptic Mange in Ferrets

Mange (or scabies) is an uncommon parasitic skin disease that can be found anywhere on the ferret's body. This parasitic mite is contagious and can be transmitted by other animals to your pet, and even to you.

Symptoms and Types

Some common symptoms for mange include:

  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Hair loss
  • Rash
  • Severe inflammation (i.e., swelling and crusting)
  • Nail and skin sloughing

There are two forms of mange which infects ferrets. The first type is found around the feet, toes and pads area, and is noticeable because the ferret will constantly scratch or bite the affected area, making it red and swollen. The second type of mange infects the skin. The affected area will also be red and inflamed, but is generally raised and filled with pus.


The parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei is the cause of this type of mange. However, ferrets which are kept in breeding colonies or animal shelters are more likely to come in contact with other mange-infected animals, and therefore contract the parasite.


Blood and urine analysis, as well as tissue cultures from the affected area, will usually determine whether or not the ferret has mange. The veterinarian can also identify parasitic mites by examining skin scrapings from the ferret under the microscope. If the tests come back negative, the veterinarian will rely on the physical condition of the ferret, along with its medical history.


Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medication is generally used to treat mange. However, antibiotic creams or oral drugs may also be used to prevent secondary skin infection due to scratching.

Living and Management

It is important to thoroughly cleanse and disinfect the ferret's living area, as re-infection can occur if it comes in contact with the parasite again. Cleaning the area is also important because this particular parasite can also infect humans.

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