How to Prevent Ferret Ear Mites

Although ear mite issue is not really life threatening for ferrets, it still needs proper attention to prevent further complications.  Ferret ear mites usually develop due to the excessive cleaning of the ears, which strips the natural protective oils which act as protection against various germs, bacteria, and parasites. The most common parasite linked to ferret ear infection is the Otodectes cynotis mite, which feeds on the secretions of the ear canal lining. Fortunately, this parasite can easily be killed and prevented by proper treatments advised by a certified veterinarian.

Ferret Ear Mites

Photo: S. J. Pyrotechnic | Flickr

Symptoms of Ferret Ear Mites

The most effective way to tell if your ferret is infested by ear mites is the color and odor of its earwax. Normal and healthy earwax is usually colored red with no prominent or strong smell. On the other hand, a darker colored earwax which is usually accompanied by foul smell is a possible sign of infection. When you see your ferret frequently scratching its ears, this may also be a sign of mite infection. Severe cases of infestation develop light scratches around the ear area which is brought about by constant scratching due to extreme itch.

Other symptoms include secretion of mucous around the ear area and development of dark red crust in the ear’s wall lining. You may also notice some hair loss in the areas surrounding the ear. When any of these symptoms are observed, immediately seek proper medical advice to prevent further complications such as infection. Although not really life threatening, these conditions can bring pain and extreme discomfort to your ferret pet.

Otodectes Cynotis Mite

Otodectes cynotis mite infection can be caused by various factors such as contact with other animals like dogs and cats who are also infected. These parasites are easily transmitted even without frequent direct contact.

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To correctly identify the infection, the veterinarian will conduct ear examination which involves getting a sample of the earwax and inspecting it under a microscope to see if there are infectious organisms. When the parasites are correctly identified, specific medication to kill these organisms is prescribed.


Parasites, bacteria, and ferret ear mites treatments vary due to the fact that some of these organisms have built resistance to most treatments. This is very important to consider to avoid further spread of the bacteria and germs. Often, a particular treatment will only kill mature mites, and after a few weeks, the young mites will grow rapidly and start a new batch of eggs. Clearly, this will be just an ongoing cycle if the root cause is not properly addressed.

Due to the fact that a single treatment rarely kills all the mites, succeeding treatments are mandatory. The common practice is to let the first treatment take its full effect for about 2 to 3 weeks before conducting the second treatment. Doing this will maximize the number of mites killed and eliminated during the first treatment.

Ear Mite Medicines

Most of the ferret ear mites medications offered by local pet shops are safe and easy to use for both owner and ferret. However, it is still best to seek a proper prescription from a vet to avoid developing other conditions such as allergies and other adverse reactions to drugs. If money is an issue and there is no way to pay for vet’s fee, just make sure to carefully and correctly follow the directions written on the ear mite medicine. When negative reactions such as inflammation and allergies are seen, you have no choice but to have your pet professional checked.

Often, the vet will prescribe an over the counter anti-ear-mite ointment to control the problem. Usage varies and depends on the severity of the infestation, but it is usually applied with 1 to 2 weeks interval.

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Other Affected Areas

Aside from the ears, some of the most common body parts infested by mites and parasites include the tip of the tail and spaces in between the nails. Ferrets sleep with their tails near the ears, which makes the tip of the tail highly susceptible to infestation. It is also recommended to regularly check the spaces between the fingers as these are favorite hiding spots of parasites.

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