If you’ve gotten your kit from a responsible breeder instead of a “ferret mill”, your little lady may still be intact. This is because spaying at too young an age has been shown to reduce the amount of hormones which are important for ferret growth. It is imperative however, that your ferret be spayed before her first estrus as she could develop a life-threatening anemia.
Why is spaying your ferret important?
Ferrets are small animals and this is why ferret breeders recommend that they be spayed as late as possible. With female ferrets, this first full year is crucial to their physical and mental development. Without this growth hormone stimulation, they will not reach the size and maturity they need to be in order to do everything their little hearts desire! However, it is of the utmost importance that your ferret is spayed before her first estrus or she could die.
A female ferret will stay in heat until she breeds. If your ferret enters her estrus and you don’t have any male ferrets around, this means she will stay in heat forever. An estrus causes more and more estrogen to be released into the blood, which causes anemia. Anemia can kill a ferret very quickly, so if your ferret has signs of anemia, it is important to get her to a vet as soon as possible.
The physical and behavioral differences between a spayed and an intact female
Except for a small scar on her tummy (which you may or may not be able to see), you will not notice any physical difference a spayed or intact female ferret. Behavioral differences mostly vary per ferret. The most common change is a cuddly female may be less cuddly after being spayed. She will still be social with you, she just may no longer want to sleep in your lap. However, this is a small price to pay for your furry friend’s life!
When is the right time to spay your ferret?
It is important to understand that ferrets are year-round breeders, which means that you are not safe from estrus no matter the time of year. A ferret can experience her first estrus any time between 4 months of age and 8 months of age. Because of the dire effects of not spaying your ferret, it is important to ere on the safe side and spay your ferret at 3 months of age.
What to do if you waited too long
If you’re reading this article because you have an intact female and you are now noticing she doesn’t feel too hot – take her to the vet immediately! If she has developed anemia, she will likely need to be put on hormone therapy, receive blood transfusions, and be spayed as soon as possible. Even with immediate vet intervention, after developing anemia, not all ferrets make a recovery.
How can I tell if my ferret is spayed?
If you got your ferret from a big pet store (PetCo, PetSmart), your ferret is already spayed. These major retailers receive all of their ferrets from the same ferret company, which spays all of their females before they are shipped to the store. If you’ve gotten your ferret from a smaller pet store or a breeder, it is best to simply ask them. If for some reason this is not possible, you may be able to tell if your ferret was spayed because they could have a scar on their tummy, a chip taken out of their ear, or a small tattoo placed inside their ear. If you are not sure your ferret is spayed, it is best to have them taken to a vet to make sure.
What if I want to breed her?
If you want to breed your female ferret, you need to make sure you have a male available at all times. In order to avoid anemia, your female ferret will need to mate every time she goes into heat. This means it is best to have at least two in tact males. That way, if one becomes sick or for some reason is unwilling to mate, your female will still be able to exit her cycle and not develop anemia.
Owning a breeding pair
Owning a breeding pair of ferrets is not for the faint of heart and should not be done on a whim. The mating ritual for breeding ferrets can seem violent to humans, but it is important to leave them be. When preparing to mate, the male ferret will bite on the female’s scruff of her neck and drag her around. While this is happening, the female ferret will yelp like she is in pain.
After a successful mating, the female will be pregnant for 42 days before she births a litter of usually between 6 and 12 kits.
Ferrets are cute little creatures and it is important to keep them healthy. If you have an intact female that you will not be breeding, you need to have her spayed in order to save her life. If you are considering breeding your ferret so you will not have to spay her, you may want to think again as it is a difficult task where many things can go wrong. If your female already has anemia, take her to the vet immediately so she can receive hormones and blood as needed.