Did you know that female ferrets can have serious problems if they are not mated during their season? They are induced ovulators which means if they are not mated, they will stay in season.
This can cause serious problems, such as alopecia, weight loss, anaemia and in some cases, even death. If you do not want to breed from your ferret there are still options to bring her out of season: options such as mating with a vasectomised male. Options for neutering your ferret:
Implant (superlorin): Here at White Lodge Vets we offer a treatment to prevent them coming into season in the first place. A hormonal implant is inserted under the skin in the same way as you would a microchip. We even do it under a little bit of anaesthetic gas so that they won't feel a thing! The implant comes in 2 sizes, usually lasting 2 or 4 years.
Spay: There is also the option of an ovario-hysterectomy, a surgical procedure performed under a general anaesthetic in which both ovaries and the uterus are removed. The ferret will be hospitalised for the day at our clinic, to ensure a stable recovery post operation. Although the initial outlay is more expensive than suprelorin implant, it does not need to be repeated, and will elimate the chance of any pregnancies or uterine infections (which is a common problem with mature ferrets).
As with males, this method or neutering can increase the risk of hyperadrenalcorticism (adrenal disease) - excess secretion of sex hormones, affecting many organs in the body and most commonly hair loss. Unfortunately, this is a relatively common problem in middle aged and older ferrets.
Vasectomy: This is a surgical procedure performed under a general anaesthetic, in which a small section of the vas deferens (the spermatic cord) is removed, and the testicle remains. Although the male will still show an interest in the female and be capable of mating, because the spermatic cord has been cut, no sperm are ejaculated (the ferret is sterile).
A vasectomised hob should still be housed on his own during the breeding season as he can still show signs of aggression, he will behave exactly as an entire hob would. Vasectomies are usually peformed at this time, because the vas deferens is enlarged. The benefits of a vasectomy include that the hob and jill are still able to mate, therefore taking the jill out of season with no pregnancy risks.
Castrate: This is again a surgical procedure perfomed under a general anaesthetic, your ferret will remain at the surgery for the day to ensure a steady recovery post op. Both testicles are completely removed through a small incision beside the scrotum, which is then usually stitched with small, self dissolving sutures. In contrast to the vasectomy with the testicles (which produce male hormones) removed, the hob will show less interest in the females, potentially making him less aggressive, easier to handle. It will also allow you to house both the castrated hob and female ferrets together all year round.
Castration can increase the risk of hyperadrenalcorticism (adrenal disease) - excess secretion of sex hormones, affecting many organs in the body and most commonly hair loss. Unfortunately, this is a relatively common problem in middle aged and older ferrets. Castration at 9-12 months decreases this risk of this disease.