What Are the Dangers of Ferrets to Humans?

By Amy Brantley

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Everyone knows that snuggling up with a guinea pig may lead to salmonella, but people often are unaware of the dangers of owning a ferret. The truth is that there are some dangers, but it's rare that a ferret is going to make you ill. While those with weakened immune systems become sick from handling a ferret, the average person is safe from illness. Learn the dangers that these pets can pose to humans so that you're protected.

Scratches

One natural instinct ferrets have is to dig. This means they have sharp claws that can lead to scratches. When handling your ferret, be careful to place the ferret in your lap so that you avoid being scratched. You also can place a towel in your lap to provide extra protection against the sharp claws. If your ferret's nails get too long, visit a groomer to have the nails trimmed.

Bites

Ferrets bite for a number of reasons, and their bites can be extremely painful. The most common, and most painful bite, is a result of being scared. While some ferrets try to run or scream when they're scared, others bite. The key to preventing this behavior is proper socialization when you bring your pet home. Instead of rushing to play with him, allow him to adjust to the new environment. Once adjusted, be careful about placing him in situations that may be uncomfortable, such as handing him off to a stranger.

Influenza

The influenza virus can be passed from ferret to human and human to ferret. The good news is that in most ferrets, influenza just causes a mild respiratory upset that goes away on its own. Ferrets do have the ability to carry the HIN1 virus, which means small children, the elderly and those who have weakened immune systems due to disease, such as HIV, should be kept away.

Rabies

Ferrets can get rabies and then pass the disease on to humans. You must get your ferret vaccinated for rabies, especially if he lives in an outdoor environment or goes to play outdoors. This vaccination can be given at the vet's office along with a vaccination for distemper.

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Author

Amy Brantley has been a writer since 2006, contributing to numerous online publications. She specializes in business, finance, food, decorating and pets.