Ferret Has Yellowish, Scaly Tail

What conditions can cause a ferret’s tail to be scaly, discolored and itchy?

two ferrets sleeping
Courtesy of Kim Douglas 
Ferrets usually have fully furred, fluffy tails.

Q: I was cuddling my 1.5-year-old male ferret today and noticed the skin of his tail kind of looked scalish and yellowish orange. I know he will wake up from sleeping and always bite his tail. I checked my 2-year-old male ferret, and he has kind of the same thing, but I never see him scratch or bite his tail. Is this something I should be worried about?

A: Without being able to see what exactly the tail looks like, it is difficult to tell you if this is something to be worried about. This may be normal for your ferrets, especially at certain times of the year. 

In a situation like you describe my first thought is adrenal gland disease, as it is common for the first sign of the disease to be an abnormality involving the tail. Signs include hair loss on the tail accompanied by some flaky skin. For two reasons, though, it would be unusual for this to be adrenal gland disease. These are that you have two ferrets that are showing similar signs and both ferrets are quite young for this disorder. 

Other conditions to consider would be bacterial infections, fungal infections and even a contact dermatitis to something in the home. Finally, some might call this a “rat tail” appearance due to an increase in oils on the skin that could be related to seasonality and/or metabolic changes in your ferret. 

In addition to a physical examination, your veterinarian can do a number of tests including blood test diagnostics and even skin scrapes and cultures to determine the cause of this problem in your ferrets.

Article Categories:
Critters · Ferrets