Message Number: YG1829 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-03-28 23:56:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Morbid questions

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., Troy Lynn Eckart <sprite@k...> wrote:

Dear Troy Lynn: To my knowledge, detailed forensic studies have not
been pefformed on ferrets. But I will give you what insight I can
based on my rather extensive involvment with deceased ferrets.

> When a ferret dies, how long before the body becomes ice cold? Is
> before or after rigor sets in?

Can't tell you. The term ice cold really has no moment, as the body
temperature will only drop to room temperature.
> How long before rigor sets in?

Rigor generally begins about 3 hours after death. As rigor is the
involuntary contraction of muscles after death, poorly muscled
animals will generally have delayed onset; well-muscled animals may
start slightly sooner.

If there was extensive exertion prior to death, or if the animal was
a heatstroke victim, resulting in lactic acid buildup, rigor will
occur sooner, as the switch to anaerobic glycolysis accompanying
lactic acidosis results in less ATP production. ATP is required to
maintain the laxity of muscles - when the stores are used up
following death of the animal, then the muscles contract resulting in
> How long before they come out of rigor? Around 20-24 hours. Rigor
disappears as the muscle cells decompose and the actin and myosin
filaments can no longer maintain their contracted state.

Then do they go back in and if so how long before?

They do not go back into rigor.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
Join the Ferret Health List at