Message Number: YG1836 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Edward Lipinski
Date: 2001-03-29 04:39:00 UTC
Subject: Dr. Williams - Experience begets Understanding?

Dear Dr. Williams,

1.) Do you have now opinion on the long term health status of ferrets
that have been fixed and descented within the second month of life?

2.) Out of a group of 100 ferrets, the early fixed & descented, will 70
of them develop cancer after the 3rd year, the 4th year, the 5th year?
Some small percentage, say 30, will never be so afflicted?

3.) Any way you know of comparing the incidence of 'cancer' in such
ferrets as defined above to those ferrets that are fixed & descented just
prior to puberty - say 5 months of age or older? Or never fixed nor

4.) Can you say that inbreeding of ferrets has no known consequence in
terms of the apparent high incidence of 'cancer' in ferrets that we see
today in the overall ferret population? I am assuming that the overall
ferret population is roughly known and that the percentage of pet store
ferrets within this population is also known. What? Something on the
order of 98 percent of the latter.

5.) As an experienced vet, how would you compare the incidence of
'cancer' in family pets other than ferrets? With the pet dog, although
some are fixed at young ages, hardly any are descented, or so it seems.

6.) Do you think it would be pointedly significant if those ferret
patients who were asked and wished to do so would please give the source
of their ferret(s); i.e. pet store or a private ferret breeder, so that
slowly over time, the answers to such questions as above could be
answered one way or another as to the long term health effects of early
fixing of ferrets?

7.) As is readily seen sexual dimorphisim is quite marked in non-fixed
ferrets (male to female relative size) so that an illuminating difference
can be seen in the degree of sexual dimorphisim between fixed and intact
ferrets. Since this outward quite visible difference is seen, there must
be also significant differences in the body intertior too. We can refer
to fixed ferrets as truly 'stunted' by comparison, surely both interiorly
as well as exteriorly. And that leads to this question, to wit: What is
the function of the immature gonads, particularly in the prepubertic
development of the ferret's immune system?

8.) Probably no answer to this question but what is the incidence of
'cancer' in the native American Black-footed ferret? Do they live long
enough in the 'wild' to be comparable to in-home, pet ferrets?

9.) Why is the incidence of 'cancer' so very much higher in USA pet
ferrets than in other countries where ferrets are kept?

Dr. Williams, I do feel so very lucky to ask these questions, for it is
so very easy to ask, but an altogether different task to answer.

Edward Lipinski @ F.E.R.R.E.T.S. NW Foundation, est. 01/04/01.