Rabies and Ferrets


We are very fortunate not to have a rabies problem in Australia. However the downside of that is that, due to the stringent quarantine laws, we can’t import any ferrets from other countries to increase and strengthen our gene pool ?

Rabies is a viral disease which infects the central nervous system of all mammals, humans included.

Symptoms include:

Lack of fear
Excessive salivation
Difficulty in standing or walking normally
Paralysis or partial paralysis (especially in the hindquarters)

Imrab-3 was the only rabies vaccination approved for use in ferrets in America. Kits should receive their first vaccination at 3 months old, and boosters are required yearly after that.

However that still doesn’t seem to safeguard a ferret from being euthanized and tested for rabies if it should happen to break someone’s skin with its teeth in certain parts of the States, even though from what I’ve read on the Internet, only about 30 ferrets have ever been recorded with rabies there, compared with huge number of dogs and cats!

Do any of you remember the depressing story about Kodo the Ferret – an innocent little fuzzball whose tooth just scratched someone’s knuckle at a show and, due to an overzealous animal control person, was euthanized  ?

You can read all about in on this page.

It seems that the safest thing is to keep one’s ferrets inside and not to allow strangers to pet it.

When I first wrote this article years ago there was only Imrab-3 but nowadays, in 2019, two new rabies vaccines have been available for American ferrets. According to the CDC, both vaccines contain inactivated rabies virus.

HDCV vaccine (Imovax, by Sanofi Pasteur) is produced in human diploid cell culture. PCECV vaccine (RabAvert, by Novartis) is produced in chick embryo cell culture.

When you take your ferret for its vaccination, please be aware that it might have an allergic reaction so it’s a good idea to wait for at least 30 minutes in the vet’s office just in case and make sure you monitor your ferret for several hours afterwards, just in case!

Keep an eye out to make sure your ferret doesn’t show the these symptoms just after its vaccination …

Becomes quiet
Looks depressed
Glassy-eyed appearance

These are the symptoms that appear after a short period of time if your ferret has a bad reaction …

Vomiting &/or diarrhea

Your ferret might collapse and without proper treatment, it could end with your ferret having seizures, falling into a coma and dying.


More information about Rabies and Ferrets can be found on the following sites…

Rabies in Ferrets (WagWalking.com)

Rabies and the Domestic Ferret

Rabies in Ferret (Exotic and Bird Clinic of New Hampshire)

Rabies in Ferrets (PetMD)

Rabies in Humans and Animals (WildlifeRemoval.com) (Not ferret specific)

And if, God forbid, your ferret does happen to nip a stranger, there are instructions on what to do on the American Ferret Association’s website …

How to Handle a Bite or Scratch Incident



(Last updated November 2019)







DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this page is not meant to replace seeing a veterinarian if you think your ferret is ill. It’s only meant to supply general information on a particular illness which was obtained either from personal experience with my sick ferrets, or from books and/or the Internet.

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