Ferrets are amazing creatures. They are highly active and extremely curious. They want to investigate everything, just like toddler's do. Just like toddlers, they also have a hand to mouth automated system if it is in their hand, it goes to their mouth. This is why the number one killer of ferrets is intestinal obstruction.
When a ferret swallows something that is not digestible, they will suffer from intestinal obstruction, meaning that the intestine is literally blocked. This is a situation that requires the services of a veterinarian, and most likely requires surgery to remove the obstruction. If the obstruction is not removed in a timely manner, the ferret will suffer, dying a slow and painful death.
You must make your home safe for the ferret, just as you would a toddler. Keep items such as nuts, erasers, sponges, sink plugs, coffee beans, ear plugs, buttons, cloth, coins and marbles out of the ferrets reach. You should also avoid purchasing latex rubber toys that are designed for dogs and cats.
You should also use caution with the foods that you feed your ferret, as their digestive systems are not like ours or other animals. Do not feed your ferret pasta, cereal, cakes, breads, cookies, or any other grain type foods. This includes fiber ridden fruits and vegetables and dairy products. While these things are digestible by humans and other animals, they cause serious blockage problems for ferrets.
Ferrets like soft rubber, and will chew on it. The problem with this is that because the rubber is soft, it can tear away, and small chunks of it can be swallowed. While there are many small things that you must keep out of the ferrets reached, if an item is destructible, you must also keep that away from the ferret as well.
There are certain symptoms that the ferret will display if he has an intestinal blockage. Most ferrets that are blocked will vomit. They will become lethargic and not display their usual energy. They may not want to eat or drink, or they may try to eat or drink but vomit afterwards. They will usually have trouble having a bowel movement, but they may also have bowel movements that look very thin or have what appears to be mucus in it.
It is vital that you watch your pet ferret and learn his habits. If he starts behaving in an unusual way, you should take him to the vet. An intestinal blockage can kill your ferret in a very small amount of time - between 24 and 48 hours. Make sure that you always have emergency vet funds tucked away so that you can get him the emergency care that he needs as soon as possible.
Don't be afraid to call your vet in the middle of the night - the ferret may not make it to the morning. Most veterinarians have emergency numbers that can be called, and an intestinal blockage is a definite emergency for a ferret. Naturally, however, the best thing to do for intestinal blockage is to prevent it altogether by making sure that your home is ferret proof.