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How to Clean Ferret Ears | (With Step-By-Step Instructions)

ferret owner cleaning ferret ears

Cleaning the ferret ears is a process of getting rid of accumulated waxes from the ear which can cause various infections if not cleaned properly.

Ferrets can get into and under anything as they are built low to the ground, this can lead to many dirty substances in the ear. Ferrets produce discharge from their ears, which ranges from yellow/orange to brown/black. While this is a completely natural way to clean their ears having too much wax can harm their health.

Key Takeaways

  • Importance of Ferret Ear Cleaning:
    • Regular cleaning of ferret ears is crucial to prevent infections caused by accumulated wax.
    • Excessive wax buildup can lead to ear mites, otitis externa, and other health issues.
  • Items Required for Cleaning:
    • Ear Cleaning Solution: Choose a solution labeled for kittens, avoiding alcohol or mineral oil.
    • Cotton Swabs/Wool: Used to apply the cleaning solution and remove debris.
    • Treats as Distraction: Helps to calm and distract the ferret during the cleaning process.
  • Cleaning Process Steps:
    1. Handling the Ferret: Gently hold or scruff the ferret to facilitate cleaning.
    2. Cleaning the Outer Ear: Remove visible debris without inserting anything into the ear canal.
    3. Cleaning the Inner Ear: Apply a few drops of ear cleanser if necessary, then wipe gently with a cotton swab.
  • Signs of Ear Problems:
    • Dark or black ear wax may indicate ear mites, requiring veterinary attention.
    • Other signs include scratching, head shaking, and unusual behavior.
  • Frequency of Ear Cleaning:
    • Clean ferret ears during or after a bath, not more than once a month.
    • Young ferrets may require less frequent cleaning compared to older ones.
  • When to Seek Veterinary Care:
    • Consult a veterinarian if you notice dark wax, crust, or increased scratching behavior.
    • Ear mites and infections require professional treatment.

Topics Covered In This Article

What Are the Items Required To Clean Ferret Ears?

The following are the items required for cleaning a ferret ear

  1. Ear Cleaning Solution
  2. Cotton Swabs/Cotton Wool
  3. Treats as a distraction (If Necessary)

1. Ear Cleaning Solution

ferret owner holding an ear cleaning solution

Having an ear-cleaning solution/ear cleaners helps to ease the process of ferret ear cleaning.

But be careful when choosing an ear-cleaning solution because the wrong solution can mess up your ferret’s ear.

What Are the Guidelines To Choose A Safe Ear Cleaning Solution For Ferrets?

The following are the guidelines for choosing a safe ear-cleaning solution for ferrets

  1. Ensure that you label it for kittens and not just cats and dogs.
  2. Avoid using rubbing alcohol or preparations that dry out the ear.
  3. Avoid mineral oil, which can increase oily ear buildup
  4. Prefer not to use hydrogen peroxide as it tends to dry the ear out.

Put the cleanser in a bowl of warm water to let it be warm can be safe for ferrets. Cold Drops are not good for pets as their body temperature is 101.8°F according to the MSD Veterinary Manual. (1) Having a cold will lead to problems.

2. Cotton Swabs/Cotton Wool

Cotton buds or cotton wool dipped in your desired ear-cleaning solution should be used to clean ferret ears. Make sure to have 5-6 cotton swabs for proper deep cleaning of your ferret ears.

3. Treats As A Distraction (If Necessary)

Prepare some ferret-friendly treats before cleaning your ferret’s ears as they usually dislike the ear cleaning process.

Treats are a great way to distract your ferret. While they enjoy their meal you may as well enjoy cleaning their ears.

What Are the Steps To Clean Your Ferret Ears?

The following are the steps to clean your ferret ear

  1. Handling your ferret
  2. Cleaning the Outer Ear
  3. Cleaning the Inner Ear

1. Handling your ferret

ferret owner scuffing their ferret

Handling your ferret can be a hard job if you are doing it alone. Try to invite over a friend to ease out the job.

If you are alone, hold or scruff your ferret gently with one hand and do the cleaning with the other hand. Or, place it on your lap and give it a treat (the choice is yours). Finally, clean its ear using your other hand.

2. Cleaning the Outer Ear

Clean your ferret’s outer ear surface and remove any debris from the ear canal.

Only clean the parts that you can see. Ferret’s ears are very small so pushing cotton buds inside the ear canal can cause ear infections and inflammation.

3. Cleaning the Inner Ear

If the ear is very dirty putting a few drops of ferret ear cleanser will do the job. Don’t use too many drops as it causes serious problems if the liquid enters the middle and inner ear. 

After using the drops, the ferret will shake its head and the fluid will break the debris into smaller pieces. To clean the ear, use a cotton ball or swab. However, be cautious not to push it too deep. Pushing it too far can cause damage such as irritation and even deafness in some scenarios.

If your cotton swab gets too wet then you can use a dry cotton swab to complete the procedure.

Why You Should Clean Ferret Ears?

why you should clean a ferret ear

You should clean a ferret’s ears because it can help prevent ear mites which causes irritation and various other infections such as otitis externa and otitis media.

Cleaning your ferret’s ear is part of the ferret’s grooming ritual as it can also help to get rid of the musky ferret smell.

Having a regular routine of cleaning your ferret’s ear can help prevent this problem.

Common Ferret Ear Problems

The following are the common ferret ear problems

  1. Wax Buildup
  2. Indications of Ear Mites

1. Wax Buildup

Your ferret ear has three parts and they are:

  1. Outer ear
  2. Middle Ear
  3. Inner Ear

We mainly clean the outer ear where parasites, infections, and tumors often develop. Ear wax, which has orange to yellow colors, is considered normal. Not cleaning ear wax can cause hearing loss, ear mites, pressure, and ear mites, infections. Different types of ferrets have different amounts and colors of wax.

Ferret’s ear can smell if there is a significant amount of wax buildup. A potent smell indicates the presence of ear wax. Clean your ferret’s ear when you observe wax accumulation.

If your ferret smells even after a clean ear then you can check our guide on ferret smell for more information.

2. Indications of Ear Mites

An ear mite, called Otodectes cynotis is a common problem for ferrets and can be acquired from other ferrets, dogs, cats, and various other environments according to vca animal hospitals.

Ear mites can be identified by dark brown, reddish-black, or black ear wax. When ear wax is out of control it can cause ear mites. Ear mites-infested wax differs in color and has a very strong odor.

Ear mites can cause various behavioral changes in ferrets such as:

  1. Grinding their ears against the ground.
  2. Tossing their heads.
  3. Claw at their ears.
  4. Moving with a slanted head.

You can use a magnifying glass to view adult ear mites. A vet’s microscope is the only way to see mite eggs and larvae, making it the most accurate examination.

According to the AMERICAN FERRET REPORT, VOLUME 11, NUMBER 1, 2000, ear mites can be treated by medicated drops or a shot of Ivermectin.

How to Know If Your Ferret Needs Ear Cleaning?

To know if your ferret needs ear cleaning follow these steps

  1. Hold your ferret by the head and look in their ears.
  2. Look for any ear wax present in the ear.
  3. In normal conditions, the ear wax is red or brown but if you notice black ear wax then it might be a sign of ear mites. If that’s the case go to a veterinarian immediately.
  4. If you see a lot of ear wax then it might be time to clean your ferret ears
  5. If your ferret is shaking or scratching its ear then it might be due to an infection which is caused by bacteria, yeast, or ear mites, in that case, go to a vet nearby.

How Often Should You Clean A Ferret’s Ear?

how often to clean a ferret ear

You should clean your ferret ears during or after a bath which should be not more than once a month. Cleaning your ferret after a bath helps to remove excess water and soap residue.

How To Bathe A Ferret? A Step-By-Step Guide (With Tips!)

Cleaning a ferret’s ears regularly will help reduce its smell and make it more hygienic.

Simply just put your ferret in the lap and check for the wax color.

Usually yellow to orange, but if it’s black, it could mean ear mites. See a Vet right away.

I would prefer cleaning your ferret’s ear before and after a bath.

Young ferrets don’t need regular ear cleaning, but as they age, check their ears for wax buildup.

When Should You Take Your Ferret To A Veterinarian?

If you notice dark wax, crust, scratching, or your ferret appears withdrawn you should take your ferret to a veterinarian. Ferrets are prone to ear mites and require veterinary treatment to treat them. Contact a veterinarian if your ferret has more discharge of debris, shaking of their head, or scratching their head.


What is the difference between ear mites and ear wax in ferrets?

The main difference between ear mites and ear wax is that ear mites are caused due to excessive ear cleaning, thus removing natural protective oils which leads to an infection whereas ear wax is a natural process that occurs in ferrets.

How expensive is a ferret ear cleaner?

The price of a ferret ear cleaner may range from 8$ to 15$ which may vary upon the brand and the product’s quality. Overall, ferret ear cleaners are not that expensive so owning it can be helpful for ear cleaning.


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  1. Vital Signs in Healthy Adult FerretsMSD Veterinary Manual

Last Updated on 13 March 2024

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