Q: Causes of Shaking in Pet Ferrets?


Answer: The metabolism of a ferret is high. In addition, the body temperature of the ferrets naturally drop while they are sleeping. Their blood pressure falls while sleeping, heart rate, and respiration fall, in addition to the temperature of their body.
This makes their entire body fall into relaxation mode. When they awaken, ferrets frequently shake to raise overall body temperature. When sleeping, the ferret’s body temperature can drop down to 80°F.

They shake to raise their body temperature back up to 104°F – which is their normal body temperature. The only cause of concern would be if a ferret shook for more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time. When a ferret shivers longer than that, take your ferret to the veterinarian.

Other causes of shaking in ferrets:

  • sense of balance interrupted by inner ear infections
  • of fever can cause shaking and shivering in ferrets
  • overall body temperature lower than normal (a very serious condition and frequently the first sign of organ failure in ferrets)

Cold Shaking

It depends heavily if the shaking is more like shivering or seizure like shaking. When ferret owners say that their ferret is shaking, my thoughts turn to shivering, a very normal and common occurrence in ferrets. This type of shaking occurs when ferrets get cold.

It’s just a ferrets way of warming up their body. When my parents wake up for the day, and come out to play, they normally shiver between 20 and 30 minutes. If you think about it, people do the same thing. When I am all comfy and warm under the covers, and I first wake up, I shiver because I am freezing cold. When a ferret first wakes up, shivering or shaking is normal – it’s how their bodies wake up.

The shaking is her nerves and this will stop when she is use to being handled, and a lot of ferrets don’t like to be held because when they are out of their cage it is play time and that is what they want to do is play.

What you describe isn’t normal, a ferret shouldn’t shake all the time.

Scared Shaking

Another reason for the shaking is she’s scared or cold. My ferrets will also shake when they’re nervous (a couple shake like crazy when the vet handles them).  My ferret always shakes when taken from her travel bag to being in the open or meeting new people.

They also have very sensitive ears so loud noises can scare them as well as they have poor eyesight so not knowing where they are, or what they are around can be scary for them.  She probably doesnt shake when she’s cuddled in your arms in her own house does she?

Ferrets don’t shake, like a dog would if scared. If a ferret is scared they will fluff their tail and run to a dark place. A ferret usually shows fear in different ways, such as poofing.

Excited Shaking

Some ferrets will shake when they first wake up, are super excited, laying down to sleep, just ate or all of the above. I raised two ferrets over the years and knew many others who had them. They shake their tail quickly when excited and sometimes when playing. If something makes a ferret really curious, such as a toy or another animal, they shake their tail in excitement of the situation. They may also do this when investigating something new that they are unsure of but want to play with. The anticipation of checking out a moving electronic toy or a new pet can get a ferret very excited, especially when younger. They can’t resist invading anything new.

After Bath Shaking in Ferrets

Ferrets shiver to warm themselves. He was given a bath, and then yes, he will be chilly when he gets out of the warm water.  Many people have found that ferrets prefer their baths warmer than you’d expect, probably because their body temperatures are pretty high. (100-103 F) You don’t want to scald your ferret, but if you can put your hand or foot into the water and feel comfortable right away, it should be okay.  The only solution to the shivering after the bath is to provide enough warmth from an external source that it takes the chill away. Just let him curl up in his cozy blanket and fall asleep.

Shock Shakes

The ferret that shakes may have insulinoma (tumors of the pancreas that cause low blood sugar). This sounds like it may be the early signs of a ferret going into Insulinoma shock. I have worked with ferrets with low blood sugar and they go into like a mini coma when their blood sugar is very low, they shake and drool and there mouth is open a little with their tongues sticking out a little bit.  .  . The most common early sign of insulinoma is “staring into space”, blank expressions, etc.

Other signs and symptoms include:

  • depression,
  • weight loss,
  • foaming and pawing at the mouth,
  • lack of appetite,
  • lethargy,
  • salivation,
  • difficulty in using hind legs,
  • vocalization,
  • in severe cases seizures and/or coma.

As the disease progresses, the signs and symptoms will also increase and become more and more severe.. . If your ferret goes into a seizure, it can be a very frightening experience, and it will be important that you do not panic.

Your ferret can be stretched on its side, have excessive drooling to foaming at the mouth, twitching, shaking, and be unresponsive. During this time, you will need to apply a small amount of honey or karo syrup (should always have on hand) on their gums and inner lips with a Q-tip (to avoid accidental biting) to bring up the blood sugar levels enough to get her to a vet.

This is treatable with prednisone (a steroid which helps stabilize glucose) and frequent high protein meals. If not treated, however, the ferret will begin shaking, having seizures, and will die.

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