Deaf Ferret – Deafness is not a major problem for ferrets. It’s not that there aren’t many deaf ferrets, it’s just that they don’t use their hearing very much anyway. It is sometimes years before some ferret owners even notice that their ferret is hearing impaired. (After all, it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference whether the ferret can hear you or not when you tell him “No.”) Ferrets with a white stripe running down the middle of his head and ferrets with all white heads sometimes carry this as a genetic defect.
If you suspect that your ferret may be deaf, try squeaking a toy behind his back and see if he responds. Try this several times just to make sure. He may hear you just fine but is trying to ignore you. If he doesn’t respond after several tries, though, he is likely deaf. All that really means is that you should at least try to give your ferret some warning before you pick him up so that he doesn’t think it’s about to be carried off for a snack by some bird of prey. Make sure he sees you hand first, or slap the floor several times (he can feel the vibrations) so that he turns around and sees you before you pick him up.
Blind Ferret – Blindness in a ferret is usually more traumatic to the owner than the ferret. Ferrets are very nearsighted to begin with. One with normal sight is not at a very great advantage over one that is totally blind. Unless the cause of the blindness is obvious, such as from cataracts, the owner may not even notice it.
Ferrets get by quite well with just their memory and keen sense of smell. As long as you don’t rearrange the furniture too often, a blind ferret will get by quite well. To be polite, however, you should announce yourself to the blind ferret before you pick him up.
We had one blind, three-legged ferret in our shelter who we adopted to a family with two “normal” ferrets. They told us that for the first week or so, the two sighted ferrets would guide the blind one all over the house; one in the front; one following behind. These two showed the new family member: all the great hidy-holes; where the litter boxes were placed; and where the toys were kept. After that, she would often beat the other two to where ever they were heading. One of her favorite games became hiding in an overturned wicker umbrella stand; leaping out and capturing one of the other ferrets as he walked by; and dragging him into the umbrella stand. Whether by vibration or smell, she could always tell when the other ferret was within reach of her lair.
Topics: the ferret manual