Your Essential Guide to Ferret’s Water Problems

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I was thinking of getting a pet ferret, but before buying, I had a lot of questions in my mind. So I started googling, and one of the problems in a forum startled me. It was about a ferret not drinking water. So I went on my journey to research and find all the reasons about it. This is what I found out.

Ferret Not Drinking Water

So, ferret not drinking water? There could be several reasons for this, including the ferret getting enough water from the raw food, the ferret is suffering from throat ulcers, the ferret has an acid reflux problems, the ferret has megaesophagus[1], etc.

You should consult a vet immediately. Also, your ferret could also be averse to drinking from a bowl. In that case, try changing the bowl with something more suitable, like a water fountain or a water bottle.

But that’s not all; ferrets can have several water-related problems, and a lot of them need to be understood before buying a ferret or to keeping a ferret healthy. Please read the article completely to understand every aspect of problems related to these subjects.

How to check if the ferret needs water (ferret dehydration symptoms)

cocoparisienne (CC0), Pixabay


There are several ways to find out whether a ferret is suffering from dehydration or not.

Some of the most common signs of a dehydrated ferret are: –

  • dry mouth and sticky saliva
  • dry and sticky gums
  • diarrhea
  • dry eyes
  • exhaustion and weakness
  • decrease in the amount of urine and its frequency.

Furthermore, there are stages of dehydration. All of these methods depend on the tenting of the skin.[2]

At 6% dehydration, which is the earliest point at which dehydration can be detected clinically, the ferret would not frequently be urinating and should have a slightly dry mouth. The skin also would not be tenting and would roll back on release.

At 8% dehydration, the skin would not be as tentative as before and would take more time to roll back. The ferret would not have urinated in some time, the mouth would be dry, and eyes would be slightly dull.

At 10% dehydration, tents would now be staying up. The mouth would be dry, and so would be the eyes. There would be no or little urine, and it would be quite concentrated. Body’s temperature would have sunken.

At 12 to 15% dehydration, the tenting would be at its peak. Eyes, mouth, and everything else would be quite dry. There would be no urine output.

Depending on the circumstance, you could either try to rehydrate your ferret or consult a vet immediately. High levels of dehydration can be fatal, so do not hesitate to go out and meet a doctor.

How long can a ferret go without water?

How long can a ferret go without water

A ferret can go up to a day or two without water. Beyond that, dehydration can be fatal. Most ferrets drink 20 times a day. If your ferret has not taken a sip in the past 6 to 12 hours, there is a problem.

Consult a vet immediately and check whether if your ferret is not suffering from a disease like acid reflux, throat ulcers, et cetera. This is a dire situation, and you should not wait for a long. If the ferret has not taken water in over a day, there are chances that your ferret is severely ill.

How much water do ferrets drink?

YouTube video

According to the Washington ferrets rescue center[3], a ferret needs to take 50 to 100 mL per kilogram of body weight per day to stay healthy. The upper and lower limit depends on how much the ferret is eating, what it is eating, and the frequency of the food.

In the case of dehydration, more fluids can be given.

If your ferret is taking raw food instead of packed ones, this could be fulfilling her water needs, and therefore she can take a little bit less than the recommended dosage.

Water keeps the animals away from diseases and infections[4], so make sure your ferret is adequately hydrated in order to avoid further problems.

But let’s say you want to give your ferret water. What type for them should it be? Should it be tap water or bottled water or filtered water?

Can ferrets drink tap water?

Can ferrets drink tap water

Of course, ferrets can drink tap water. But, it should be safe and clean to drink.

In a lot of cases, this water is mixed with purification chemicals like chlorine, fluoride, and others, which could harm your pet’s immune system.[6] So, make sure your water supply is clean, and the water is drinkable for both animals and humans.

Sometimes, people recommend distilling water for ferrets, but I would argue that this is not a good idea. Yes, the distilling of water can reduce the impurities, but it also removes the vital nutrients and minerals that were there naturally.[7] The best process arguably would be to use filtration.

Moreover, if your water supply contains other elements like a high dosage of salt in case you are living in a mountainous area, try to find sources of clean water or use an RO (reverse osmosis) filter in your home. This is the best solution for your ferret.

Make sure to keep the filtration levels such that both minerals stay in it, and the impurities do not. But what if the ferret does not want to drink the water?

How to get a ferret to drink water

How to get a ferret to drink

Steps to make a ferret drink water:

  1. Fill a syringe with water.
  2. Open the ferret’s mouth and slowly start sending the drops by the side of her mouth.
  3. Be careful and slow as intense release of water enter the trachea.
  4. Repeat this every few hours till the ferrets starts drinking again.


More tips to ease the ferret into drinking water regularly:

  • Use a water bowl instead of a bottle

Ferrets are not human babies and hence they find it hard to drink from artificial things like bottles. Having a bowl is much more preferable since that matches their natural way of drinking water in the wild.

There is a problem though, they tend to spill a lot with bowls. You can solve this by using a clamp like this one.

  • Make the water slightly warm

In cold areas and seasons, ferrets do not like to drink cold water. In that case, you can slightly warm up the water before putting it in the bowl or the bottle.

  • Use a pool of water (playful hydration)

Ferrets like to play with water, and in doing so, they drink a lot of water. Therefore, adding a pool with some toys can be a great solution to keep your ferret hydrated and happy. Check out the video below where a water pool is installed in the ferrets are playing with it.


  • Use a water fountain

Some ferrets have a problem in drinking from both bowls and bottles; for those types of ferrets, you can use water fountains. Make sure the Fountain has a low lip so that the ferret can teach it easily. Check out this example of such a fountain.

Related questions

Ferret water bowl or bottle?

It would depend severely on the ferret — some ferrets like bowls and some like bottles. Ferrets do drink more water from bowls, and therefore, it helps in hydration, but there are problems of spillage, and some ferrets do not like them.

Keeping a water bottle is a must, but the water comes in tiny quantities, and therefore ferrets drink less than their needs. The best suggestion would be to keep both.

Make sure to clean the bowl regularly as you do with cats and other creatures.

Ferret scratching at the water bowl!

There could be two reasons for this:

1) The ferret wants wet food and therefore is scratching at the bowl. So what you can do is wet the food before giving it to the ferret, and this could stop her from doing that.

2) Ferrets are natural diggers, and they want an outlet to do so. So, you can let her out for a while and provide a space where she would do her thing.

Read more: Read more about ferret scratching here.

How much water do ferrets drink?

Ferrets have a high metabolic rate, and therefore they can drink a lot of water. For the specific amount, you can check the answer below.

How much water should ferrets drink a day?

This depends from ferret to ferret, and the amount of food, type of food they are eating. If they are eating raw food that is filled with juicy details, the ferret would definitely require less water.

Else, about 50 to 100 mL/kilogram of body weight would be fine.

How much water do ferrets need?

Check the previous answer for the specific amount. You should always keep a water source near your ferret so that they remain hydrated all day.

Ferret gags when drinking water

There could not be a single answer to this. It could range from the ferret not knowing how to drink, something stuck in her throat, some bacterial problem, to even having an ulcer. You should consult your vet immediately if this happens regularly with your ferret.

Ferret digging in the water bowl

This is normal. Ferrets need an outlet to show their feelings. They are natural diggers and therefore like to dig the water bowl. Buy the ferret a new water tank to play with and provide her some time to do so.


Ferrets are wild creatures, and they do not have a long history of living with humans[8]. They would suffer from water problems, and you should notice that before your ferret gets severely ill.

I have provided all the resources that I could in this post to help you out with your problems. Share this post with your friends and family and anyone else who owns a ferret so that we can be of help to them.

If you have any questions or queries regarding our post on ferrets not drinking water, try to communicate with us using our contact us page. You can also write a comment below to let us know your thoughts. Have a great day!


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