Pancreatic Tumor in Ferrets

Insulinoma in Ferrets

Insulinoma is a tumor in the pancreas that secretes an excess quantity of insulin. It is one of the most common diseases in pet ferrets, and is usually seen in ferrets older than two years of age. The tumor causes the body to absorb an excessive amount of glucose and reduces the liver's ability to produce this type of sugar. This, in turn, can cause hypoglycemia or affect the nervous system, bringing on such symptoms as seizures, disorientation, collapse, and partial paralysis of the back legs. It may also affect the gastrointestinal system and bring on nausea and vomiting. 

Symptoms and Types

Ferrets with insulinoma will usually display more than one clinical sign. However, the symptoms are typically be episodic -- that is, they come and go -- and may or may not be related to fasting, excitement and eating.

  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Unsteadiness
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Muscle twitching
  • Collapse
  • Excessive urination and extreme thirst
  • Stargazing (a severely twisted neck, forcing it to gaze upwards)
  • Nausea (characterized by excessive salivation and pawing at the mouth)


Insulin-producing tumor or cancer of the pancreas. 


Other conditions or diseases can cause many of these symptoms, so your veterinarian will have rule out the possibilities before arriving at a diagnosis. A physical examination followed by a blood test and urinalysis will help them determine whether insulinoma is the cause. Ultrasound may also be used to look for tumors.

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