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Benefits of Spaying and Neutering Your Ferret

By: Dr. Meg Baho

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Ferrets are becoming increasingly popular as pets throughout the United States. Historically, they have had three primary roles throughout the world – they have been used for hunting, utilized in research settings and kept as pets. Because they are friendly, relatively easy to care for and are becoming legal as pets in more areas of the United States, the numbers of ferrets seen in private practice has increased dramatically throughout the last several years.

Many potential ferret owners are concerned about the odor that ferrets may have. In fact, this odor is under the control of the androgynous (sexual) hormones and is evident in the ferret's skin. Intact male ferrets have the strongest odor; female ferrets in heat will also produce an odor but less so than the males. The actual scent or anal glands produce little odor. Therefore, spaying/neutering a pet ferret will reduce the majority of this ferret scent.

Unless your ferret is going to be used for breeding purposes, spaying/neutering your ferret at an early age is strongly recommended in order to avoid certain health issues and reduce their musky odor. Most ferrets sold by pet stores have been spayed/neutered and de-scented at a very early age – usually by 4 weeks of age. Most ferrets obtained through private breeders are sexually intact, that is, not spayed or neutered.

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