I've got another rescue in... A man phoned me Sunday night, 25th of March '01, he'd caught a ferret. A few months ago he got in touch with the vets and told them he caught a ferret or polecat so the vets phoned me and then I phoned him and we went out in the dark to see the ferret or polecat, went all the way to Crymych which is 18 miles on bendy roads, only to find out it was a mink. ;-) Mind you, it was only the second mink I'd seen alive and the first one in the wild. Anyway, he phoned again and of course I was wondering what sort of creature he managed to catch this time. This time he actually got it in a carrier so I told him to give the ferret food and water and we'd come Monday because we were going to Milford Haven and could call on the way back. Well, we got there and it definitely was a ferret or polecat but of course I was petrified that it was a polecat, first thing he did was hiss at me and he had a dark nose so could well have been a polecat. But all in all his behaviour was more ferret like, I did pick him up with gloves and he didn't try to bite so we took him home. At home the first trip for him was into the bathroom for a wash. He had matted fur, looked really old, had bite wounds on his neck and back and of course he had ticks. He needed 2 shampoos because he was so dirty! But he was all right with the washing, didn't try to bite or anything, he did try to nip when we cut his claws but he only nipped me lightly and quickly opened his mouth when he realised that he was biting me. He was very thin but looking at his teeth he looked pretty young, 1-2 years. And I fist thought he was an ill and old ferret...

He ate really well at first and ate about 4 times as much as the others but after about a week he slowed down! Oh, and of course he was mad. :-) I think when they're in season, the hormones disengage the brain. ;-) I only let him have a run in the ferret room when the big group was out and he was all over the place, he climbed up and down his cage door and on top of his and the babies' cage and on the window sill, he walked on the pipes and on the radiator instead of using the normal and easy way, one night I found him hanging from the mesh top in his cage, hanging head down from it like he was a monkey!

He was castrated on the Friday, 4 days after he got here. He was so happy when I picked him up, he was behaving like a wild animal in his carrier, biting the door but when I got him out, he quietly laid in my arms... He went really quiet after his castration, once the hormones were gone, he was a completely different ferret, he loves cuddling and is pretty laid back.


Of course Pete wanted to keep him, his excuse was that we don't have a polecat hob and because Bobby was so sweet and Pete also named Bobby. After Spike we were almost naming him after another caracter from Buffy or Angel, we thought of Riley, Giles or Wesley but then decided to call him Bobby...

Around the middle of April I started letting Bobby have a run with Rose, Jasmine and Gremlin, he got on really well with the girls so I added Hobo eventually and Hobo wasn't bad with Bobby, a bit of bullying but nothing bad. So I added Barney as well who bullied a bit more but still not bad at all. And within a week I put Bobby in with Rose's group. I sprayed him well with Bitter Apple to start with so Spike wouldn't bully him too bad. Spike is a real bully and the problem is that Bobby doesn't defend himself and won't answer back. But the Bitter Apple pretty much stopped Spike from attacking, Spike did bite Bobby but after 1 second he'd turn away and try and get the awful taste out of his mouth. Bobby has now learnt to answer back and will chase Spike if Spike attacks...


Update July 2005

Bobby has been having chronic diarrhoea. He had a blood test and also faecal test, the faecal test came back positive for campylobacter so he was treated for this but the diarrhoea didn't go away. Bobby is fine though despite the diarrhoea, his appetite is fine and he is very active and playful.

Faecal test 13/07/05



Microscopical examination - No ova, larvae or protozoa found.

Aerobic culture - No bacterial pathogens isolated.

Salmonella - Salmonella spp NOT DETECTED.

Campylobacter culture - Campylobacter spp. isolated.

The cultural characteristics of this organism prohibit standardised susceptibility testing. Antimicrobials of choice: Erythromycin, Fluoroquinolones (Enrofloxacin / Marbofloxacin), Tetracycline and Chloramphenicol. (Murray PR, et al, Manual of Clinical Microbiology, ASM Press 1999) Note : Generic antibiotics quoted. The choice of antibiotic and knowledge of any contraindications is the Veterinary Surgeons responsibility.

Blood test 14/07/2005


Total Protein 60.0 g/l (51.0 - 74.0)
Albumin 28.4 g/l (26.0 - 41.0)
Globulin 31.6 g/l
Urea 10.3 mmol/1 (10.0 - 15.0)
Creatinine 68 umol/l (0 – 79)
ALT * 122 U/1 High (0 - 119)
ALP 43 U/1 (34-66)
Lipase 772 U/l
Glucose * 5.38 mmo1/1 Low (9.00 – 12.5O)
No Fluoride Oxalate sample submitted so Glucose run on the spun serum gel

Serum Protein electrophoresis 38
Total Protein 66 High g/l
Albumin 28 Low g/l
Total globulin 38 High g/l
Total Gamma globulin 21 g/l


Haemoglobin 13.6 g/dl (12.0 – 18.0)
Haematocrit 0.48 1/1 (0.43 - 0.55)
Red Blood Cells 8.20 l0^12/l (6.70 - 12.10)
MCV 58.5 fl
MCHC 28.3 g/dl
MCH 16.6 pg
White Blood Cells 5.2 10^9/l (4.4 - 19.1)
Neutrophils segmented 38% 1.98 10^9/l (l.36 – 10.87)
Neutrophils Banded 0% 0.00 10^9/l
Lymphocytes 60% 3.12 10^9/l (1.64 - 11.07)
Eosinophils 2% 0.10 10^9/l (0.00 - 1.30)
Monocytes 0% 0.00 10^9/l (0.00 – 1.71)
Basophils 0% 0.00 10^9/l
Platelets * 155 10^9/l Low (300 900)

Film Comment
RBC: The red cells appear normal
WBC: The white blood cell morphology appears normal.

Clinical comment

General results would possibly be consistent with inflammatory bowel disease, but clinical history on the form is incomplete.

Update October 2006


Bobby has become very hyperactive during the last 2 months.  I don’t know what is wrong with him.  When he is in the cage, he gets almost panicky and will scratch at the door, runs around or lays under the toilet and kicks it.  When I let him out he runs around, checks all his toys, puts them where he wants them to be, checks them again and when he’s happy he goes to bed.  He will sleep very hard and be completely out of it but the moment I put him back in his cage, he comes back to live and will start throwing tantrums again.  He is using up so much energy that I have upped his portions.  I keep wondering whether it is an adrenal problem?  Or do ferrets get compulsive obsessive disorder?  His appetite is fine, he drinks normal, pees and poohs okay and has just gone through the coat change.  Even though his coat isn’t the best and is growing slowly. He has always been calm in his cage, this behaviour has only recently started...  I usually weigh the ferrets every months but last month I didn’t get round to it and in the last 2 months Bobby lost 180g.  He is not thin and looks quite normal but the weight loss is there.  And his weight has been very steady.   

We just had another accident involving Bobby.  My ferrets Leo and Piper and hyperactive, too.  They’re 2 streamline albinos, 2 years old, brother and sister.  When they’re out, all they do is run and jump.  They’re also very aggressive towards the other ferrets.  The ferrets’ cages are 1 big unit almost like a wardrobe or something, made of wood with wire mesh fronts and sides.  Leo and Piper will jump up the cage (it’s got legs so the cages are a foot off the floor) and then they’ll climb up the mesh front and try and get at any ferrets that are by the front.  If one is sleeping leaning against the mesh, they’ll try and bite it.  Earlier this year they got hold of Rose’s tongue (she must have either mouthed at them or yawned and stuck her tongue out) and they tore her tongue so it needed to be partly amputated.  Well, this time they got Bobby’s tongue.  He didn’t bleed much and didn’t act like he was in pain so I found out during one afternoon when he and Gremlin were out.  They were asleep and I saw 2 drops of watery blood on the floor so I checked Gremlin (I thought one was passing blood) and she was fine and I checked Bobby and he had a stuffy mouth, like they get with a tooth abscess where saliva builds up around the mouth so I looked in his mouth and saw the tongue.  Took him to the vets, the tongue wasn’t nearly as bad as Rose’s but I wanted him to have antibiotics of course and painkiller.  He kept eating, Rose refused food and water and medication after her tongue operation and barely ate for 3 days or so.  But Bobby continued to eat, he was and still is in pain but he ate okay.  And takes his antibiotics.  I wonder why Leo and Piper are the way they are...

Update October 2006

I put Bobby back on melatonin in case it is adrenal disease that is making him hyperactive. Last winter I put him on melatonin because his coat was very thin and he grew a much better thicker coat.  Not a beautiful coat like most of the others but a lot better than the one he had. Then I stopped the melatonin late spring and thought I would take it up in October again for half a year.  It is already making a difference in Bobby.  He is calmer but still gets episodes when he absolutely does not want to stay in the cage but there is already an improvement.

Update Septemer 2007

Bobby's life has been pretty uneventful (no, he hasn't died). He loved being in a group with Rose, Jasmine, Hobo and Gremlin. Barney died just over a month after Bobby arrived, and Spike died just over half a year after Bobby's arrival so he's really only been with Rose, Jasmine, Hobo and Gremlin properly. Hobo then died October '04, Jasmine April '05, Rose July '06 and Gremlin March '07. So Bobby has been on his own since March. He doesn't seem to mind and enjoys running around. His favourite thing is to carry toys around and put them away neatly. He'll carry jingly balls and any other soft toys up and down the stairs and put them into his favourite corners. Once he's happy that everything is where it belongs, he'll do other things. :-)

He's slowed down a bit over the last 4 months. He used to be so active and ran around for at least 1 hour morning and night but then he started having low blood sugars, not very low, but the last 2 or so months he has only played 1/2 an hour before going to bed again. So now he comes out twice for 1/2 an hour, as in twice in the morning and twice at night.

He also still has a problem with diarrhoea. He's had diarrhoea on and off for the last 2 1/2 or so years but this year it became worse. He had another blood test in April this year, I think to check his renal values and to check for ADV (only by looking at the TP and possibly doing a protein electrophoresis).

Blood test 03/04/2007


Total Protein 51 g/l (51 - 74)
Albumin 28 g/l (26 - 41)
Globulin 23 g/l
A/G Ratio 1.2 g/l
Urea 17.3 mmol/l (1.9 - 7.49)
Creatinine 56 umol/l (< 75.0)
Sodium 149 mmol/l (128 - 158)
Potassium 5.11 mmol/l (3.9 - 5.5)
Calcium 1.83 mmol/l (1.99 - 2.94)
Phosphorous 2.47 mmol/l (1.03 - 3.06)
Ionised Calcium 1.14 mmol/l
ALP 34 iu/l (34 - 66)
ALT 58 iu/l
Bile Acids 4.0 umol/l (0 - 8)


RBC 6.76 x10^12/l (6.7 - 12.1)
Hb 12.5 g/dl (12.0 - 18.0)
HCT 0.39 % (0.43 - 0.55)
MCV 58.0 fl
MCH 18.5 pg
MCHC 31.8 g/dl
Platelets 324 x10^9/l (297 - 910)
White Blood Cells 16.07 x10^9/l (3.5 – 7.0)
Neutrophils 37% 5.95 x10^9/l (1.5 – 5.9)

Neutrophils (Band) 0% 0.00 x10^9/l
Lymphocytes 61% 9.80 x10^9/l (1.7 – 2.9)
Monocytes 0% 0.00 x10^9/l (0 - 1.17)
Eosinophils 1% 0.16 x10^9/l (< 0.35)
Basophils 1% 0.16 10^9/l (< 0.14)

Blood Film Examination

Blood smear prepared from EDTA sample was examined. Red cells appear normocytic and normochromic. No increase in polychromasia is seen. A mild mature neutrophilia is seen with no evidence of toxic changes seen. A mild to moderate lymphocytosis is seen. Increased numbers of reactive lymphocytes are observed. Please note the greater than expect inverted differential obtained. A mild basophilia is seen. Platelets appear adequate in number and normal in morphology with no evidence of platelet clumping or EDTA clots seen.


In about June, Bobby had some Synulox antibiotics for his mouth because he had red gums. The antibiotics didn't just sort his mouth but also stopped the diarrhoea. But once the antibiotics were stopped, the diarrhoea came back. Then in July he was put on an injectable antibiotic called Borgal, he had to have it for 3 weeks for a nasty hacking cough he developed. He actually had 2 courses of this antibiotic because the first time round I didn't have enough antibiotic and he only had it for 2 weeks but then a few weeks later, through August, he did have a full 3 week course. During this time, the diarrhoea stopped again. I don't know why antibiotics have this effect but I have read about ferrets with IBD and for some, antibiotics work best. Anyway, he had about 6-8 bowel movements a day while on antibiotics. Then, when theyw ere stopped, the diarrhoea cam back gradually and he would end up having up to 20 bowel movements a day, at least twice as many as when he was on antibiotics.

He has been on pred since about June, since he showed symptoms of low blood glucose but the pred didn't help with the diarrhoea. Then Michaela suggested trying oat bran in with his meat and it seems to be helping him- but only with pred. I'd cut his pred down from 1/2 mg to 1/4 mg and the diarrhoea got worse but if he has 1/2 mg pred and oat bran, fish oil and cod liver oil added to his food, his stools are normal in number and also well formed. I hope this will continue to work. :-)

Here's a page showing the sort of diarrhoea he had/ has and what the stools looked like on antibiotics:

Bobby's diarrhoea


Update 21/11/07

Bobby is hyperactive again. I don't know when it started, a month or two ago. Time is a pretty blurry thing here, I often don't know whether something happened a week or month or 3 months ago... But anyway, Bobby became hyperactive about a year ago and I put him on melatonin and he went back to normal within a few days. Now the melatonin has stopped working. I upped it from 1.5 - 3 mg but it has no effect. I tried to get Lupron from the Professional Arts Pharmacy but regulations have become so strict here that Michaela can't just write a prescription and fax it.

Update 07/12/07

Bobby is now a free range ferret in the lounge because being in a cage wound him up so much, what with the hyperactivity. He's happy like this and sleeps all day in peace. He is up at 7.30 every morning and enjoys a run for half an hour, he always goes outside in the morning, even when it's pouring down with rain. Today he had a really good day and had another good run when I hoovered and mopped and another run later in the afternoon.

Update 02/02/08

Bobby is probably slowly nearing the end. He's been okay so far, his chronic diarrhoea is controlled by slippery elm powder and by putting some oat bran in his meat. Quite amazing, I never would have thought that slippery elm is so good. But the insulinoma is getting worse. I had him on 1/4 mg and now he's on 1/2 mg. He's just got a lot more quiet and hardly runs around now, he's got worse quite quickly over the last week or two. But he eats well and so far doesn't look like he's suffering. I hate it when they go downhill so slowly...

Update 21/04/08

Bobby was started on Carafate. He's been grinding his teeth a little bit but it's got a lot better. Bobby is still going strong, the Carafate seems to help him. But he is in pain after eating and there's a tumour or growth that is painful. Part of me wants him opened up now... I don't know what it is, when it comes to the decision to either put them to sleep or going in, I seem to like the idea of going in. I mean Bobby is fine, he has a good appetite and still runs around, even up the stairs. So I can't have him put to sleep yet. On the other hand it's not fair for him to be in pain. He has a vet appointment tomorrow, he's got this quite big skin tumour, I don't know how much is tumour or scab but it's hanging on by a little bit of skin only so it should be very quick and easy to remove it. And then I'll discuss putting him on pain medication. He can't have Rimadyl because he's on pred so an opioid painkiller should do. He is really only in pain after eating, my Igor had the same problem, good appetite but he would be in pain and uncomfortable after eating. Half an hour later he was okay and would play again. He had a pancreatic tumour, maybe a lymphoma, unfortunately the vet didn't send any off for pathology. So all I know is that he had a walnut size tumour in his pancreas which had also caused ascites. I mean I just want Bobby to be comfortable.

Update 17/05/08

Bobby had his tumour off on 23rd April. I had timed it good, while I was waiting for Michaela, he managed to scrape the scab off the tumour and it looked awful. It was just a 10 minute operation but Bobby didn't do well and his tongue started to turn blue but he came through it. He's now on Buprenorphine morning and night for pain. Whatever tumour he has in his abdomen is painful for him and he's been so much better since starting on the Buprenorphine and he is fine otherwise. Good appetite and so much more active on the pain medication. Before he would barely run around, now he goes out in the garden every night for about an hour and also has a little run during the day, midday or afternoon. Of course I now wish I'd had him opened up but whatever I decide is wrong and he didn't have pain last year, he only developed the pain end of last year and then he'd already had a bad heart murmur which he developed late last summer. But I'm glad that the painkiller is helping him so much.

Update 17/07/08

Bobby's been slowly deteriorating and the pain medication didn't work so well anymore. I took him to the vets for a check-up on 10th July, all I wanted was a new prescription for liquid paediatric Furosemide. But in the waiting room he looked miserable and in pain so I said there's no point anymore and had him put to sleep. You know usually even sick ferrets perk up in the waiting room and show an interest, I had ferrets put to sleep who still showed an interest in the waiting room. But Bobby laid there, eyes half closed, shivering. So the painkiller wasn't working well anymore. It's been difficult with him because he had episodes of pain, especially after eating. But he also had good hours. Every night he had a run in the garden and then he ran upstairs to have a look. The last week or so he couldn't manage to get up the stairs anymore due to hind leg weakness so I used to carry him up. But I think I timed it okay even though I feel bad that he was still in pain despite the Buprenorphine.

Bobby's histopathlogy report


Spleen hemorrhagic with active EM erythropoiesis and will differentiated lymphoid tissue as lymph follicles.

Lung with atalectasis, oedema and emphysema.

Liver (2 pieces) with together 5 small (1mm) to large (5mm) foci of well differentiated exocrine pancreas tissue (metastasis). The rest of the liver sows some centrolobulary haemorrhages.

Pancreas with in this section at least 20 neoplastic foci surrounded by connective tissue capsules. The pre-existing pancreas tissue is pressed to the side. Between the neoplasia's haemorrhages and lymphoid infiltrates.

The adrenal very irregular with adenomatous changes and focal lymphoid infiltrates.

Intestines show a plasmacellular enteritis with 45% eosinophils.

In many of the renal glomeruli protein deposits on the basement membrane of the capillaries. And also in the medulla deposits on the basement membranes of tubuli.
In the interstitium many small interstitial mixed cellular infiltrates.

Large intestine with plasmacellular enteritis.

Lymph node no changes.

Another piece of liver with 9 mm pancreas tissue metastasis.

The heart dilated, especially left side with in the wall an area with scar tissue (fibrosis).


Insulinoma with metastasis to the liver.

I was wondering why Bobby was in pain when he "only" had insulinoma. When Nipper died, I was talking to Dr. Ruth Heller and asked her about Bobby and I'm so grateful she explained everything to me:

Me: Dear Dr Ruth

I do have another question regarding my Bobby. He was 8 when he was put to sleep in July. He'd had heart disease and insulinoma and looked adrenal with a thinning coat. At times he was very hyperactive which I thought was due to the adrenal disease. I had him on oral melatonin for about 2 years I think, at first 1 mg and the last 9 months he was on 3 mg (I upped it when he became hyperactive again). Import of drugs has become very hard so we didn't get Lupron and by the time we finally had Suprelorin available, Bobby had deteriorated and my vet thought the implant would make him more ill. No op because of the cardiomyopathy. But anyway, around December last year he started looking like he had abdominal pain. At the beginning of this year he had become very quiet and I didn't want him to be in pain so my vet agreed to put him on Buprenorphine which I gave him orally. It worked wonders and Bobby had a new lease of life and was active again. By the summer it slowly stopped working and one day I decided that the quality of life wasn't there anymore so he was put to sleep. I don't know what could have caused the abdominal pain, I was wondering if you could look at his necropsy page (photos and histopathology report) and let me know if you can see what it could have been? He'd had chronic diarrhoea, too, which was controlled well by adding oat bran to his meat and also slippery elm and Clavamox every now and again. Am I right thinking he had eosinophilic enteritis? Would that have been painful?

Dr Ruth: **Well, he definitely had eosinophilic infiltrate in his intestines, which goes along with EE. That can be somewhat painful, but I'd be more likely to attribute his pain level to the metastatic insulinoma. We know in people (and in the dogs and cats I've seen with it) that pancreatic cancer is an extremely painful illness, and although most insulinomas in ferrets are not painful, when it reaches the level of spread and metastasis that Bobby had, it would surprise me more if there wasn't pain from that. The report does state that there was compression and edema of the remaining pancreatic tissue, which is the main reason that people have such pain.

Not much you could have done about that, except to control pain as long as possible and let him go when you couldn't, which is exactly what you did.**

Me: Hi Dr Ruth

One question, is EE and IBD the same? Not long ago somebody posted on the FHL and from the post it sounded like EE and IBD are the same thing.

Dr Ruth: **Not quite, although a lot of people think they are. EE - Eosinophilic enteritis- is a specific disease called by infiltrates of eosinophils into the intestinal wall. IBD - Inflammatory bowel disease - is a much more mixed bag of inflammatory cells, especially lymphocytes, and in my experience is often a precursor of intestinal lymphoma. They do cause similar signs, but are not the same illness. IBS - Irritable bowel syndrome - is yet another thing that will cause similar signs.**


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