Insulinomas in Ferrets

Insulinomas in Ferrets

Here we can see, “Insulinomas in Ferrets”

Insulinomas are the most prevalent tumours in ferrets kept as pets. These tumours of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are also known as pancreatic islet cell tumours. Hypoglycemia is caused by an overabundance of insulin produced by tumours (low blood sugar). Unfortunately, the tumours are frequently cancerous, but they may normally be treated for a long time with surgery or medication.

Insulinomas are most common in ferrets between the ages of two and three. The onset may be gradual, with minor symptoms that gradually worsen and become more common; however, the illness can also be severe and sudden.Sometimes there are no obvious symptoms, and insulinoma is only detected through routine lab testing for unrelated issues. Adrenal disease, lymphomas, cardiomyopathy, and other disorders can coexist with insulinoma.

Insulinoma Symptoms in Ferrets

The symptoms usually appear in waves, with periods of normal activity and behaviour in between.

  • Weight loss
  • Episodes of depression, lethargy, being “out of it” (may even collapse and be unresponsive)
  • Weakness and incoordination, especially of the hind legs
  • Often salivation and pawing at the mouth during episodes
  • Severe episodes can result in seizures, and occasionally coma
  • Appetite often normal, sometimes decreased
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A trip to a ferret-friendly veterinarian is a must if your ferret exhibits any of these symptoms. Clinical symptoms and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), as determined by a blood sample, are used to diagnose insulinoma. To document low blood sugar, blood tests may need to be repeated or conducted after a short wait (4 hours). Some veterinarians also test for insulin levels. Other tests should be done to find out how healthy your ferret is overall and if it has any diseases.

Treatment Alternatives


The treatment of choice for an otherwise healthy ferret is surgery, which allows visible tumours to be removed (there are often multiple tumors). Your veterinarian should examine the adrenal glands for enlargement during surgery, as an adrenal ailment could be present at the same time. Unfortunately, due to the nature of islet cell tumours, they frequently spread after surgery, necessitating future medical care. Surgical removal of bigger tumours, on the other hand, typically relieves symptoms for a while or makes medical care easier. Blood sugar levels should be checked on a regular basis (two weeks following surgery, then every couple of months) so that medical management can begin if necessary.

Medical Administration

Medical therapy may be required following surgery or may be the preferred treatment for ferrets that are too old or unwell to undergo surgery and hence pose a high surgical risk. Prednisone and diazoxide are two medications that can be administered (alone or in combination), and while they help reduce symptoms, they have no effect on the disease’s progression. Dietary management is also critical—ensure that food is always available and that the ferret is fed a high-quality meat-based diet (high in protein and low in carbohydrates). Furthermore, sweet sweets must be avoided at all costs, as they can trigger a hypoglycemic episode (by stimulating the tumour cells to produce excessive amounts of insulin). Your veterinarian will also provide you with advice on how to handle a hypoglycemic situation at home. Remember that medicinal management is only intended to assist in controlling hypoglycemia and that symptoms may increase as the disease advances. There’s a good chance that medicine doses will be raised, but the medicine may become useless in the long run.

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  • Insulinoma in Ferrets Frequently Asked Questions – Insulinoma symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment by many ferret vets (including Dr. Bruce Williams).
  • Insulinoma – A helpful essay that isn’t overly clinical and provides many practical suggestions for dealing with an insulinoma in a ferret.Dr. Charles Weiss and Beth Camarow collaborated on this piece.

User Questions

Is insulinoma fatal in ferrets?

Therapy is recommended if a ferret is symptomatic (either on physical examination or historically) and has a blood glucose level below 60 mg/dL. Ferrets are very easy to treat, and if you don’t treat an insulinoma, it can cause hypoglycemia, which can be fatal.

At what age do ferrets get insulinoma?

Consider insulinoma to be the polar opposite of diabetes: high insulin produced by pancreatic tumour cells causes low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Insulinoma can afflict ferrets as young as two years old, but it is most usually identified in ferrets aged four to five years.

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What happens if insulinoma goes untreated?

It produces more insulin than your body can use. Low blood sugar can be caused by an insulinoma (hypoglycemia). Confusion, perspiration, weakness, and a quick heartbeat are all symptoms of low blood sugar. You can faint out or even go into a coma if your blood sugar drops too low.

Why does my ferret keep screaming?

Screeching, as you can assume, is not a pleasant sound to hear. It sounds like a scream and indicates that something is wrong with your pet: they’re in pain, in danger, or terribly afraid of anything. Investigate right away if you hear your ferret screeching.

Why is my ferret shaking and screaming?

Fear is one of the most prevalent reasons ferrets won’t stop screaming. If they feel cornered or endangered in some way, they may shout or cry to show their fear.


I hope you found this helpful guide. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to use the form below.


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