Neutering and reproductive control

Ferrets male and female become sexually active in the spring as the day lengthens. This is often altered by artificial light. Females come into oestrus ready to ovulate and stay in that state until mated. If not mated the hormones associated with being in oestrus will cause anaemia leading to the death of a high percentage of these ferrets. This is a problem we are commonly presented with in the summer months.

Traditionally ferrets were spayed to prevent this problem. However both spayed female ferrets and castrated male ferrets develop cancer of the adrenal glands. The age of onset depends on the age of neutering. Ferrets in North America are often neutered as young as 8 weeks old. These ferrets often develop adrenal cancer before the age of 3. In the UK ferrets were more commonly neutered at 12 weeks old with the onset of adrenal cancers seen after the age of 3. In the UK adrenal disease is often not diagnosed with the cause being attributed to “old age” whereas in the USA it was happening in much younger ferrets as they are neutered at a younger age and was more likely to be investigated.

We have been using the hormone implant in ferrets since 2010 and seen a dramatic decrease in the incidence of adrenal cancer. Additionally we have not seen any side effects in any of the hundreds of ferrets who have had the hormone implant.

If there are any questions about ferret reproduction please contact us and we will try to answer your query.

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