Message Number: YG2204 | New FHL Archives Search
From: RRC
Date: 2001-04-05 04:42:00 UTC
Subject: Bob C: Late Neuters

Sorry for not replying to some of threads; I've been busy with two
terminally ill ferrets. Nosette passed away yesterday and Sam Luc will
probably pass on some time today.

Just a comment about late neutering, since I frequently drop the phrase
without defining it. I define an early neuter as one desexed prior to
skeletal maturity, and a late neuter as one desexed after skeletal
maturity. Based on studying the morphology of more than 300 ferret
skeletons, I place skeletal maturity at about one year of age (±2
months). There is still a bit of epiphyseal fusion taking place, but a
statistically insignificant amount of bone growth takes place after that
time (with a few exceptions, of course). Excluding the ferrets I adopt
from shelters, when I take in kits I never neuter the males until after
their first rut or they are 16-18 months old, whichever is older. With
females, I wait until they go into heat. If that age is before 12
months, I have the vet inject them to take them out of heat, and wait
until they are 16-18 months old. If the ferret goes into heat for the
first time after a year old, then I just have her neutered.

I can't offer a lot of direct evidence about the long term health
effects of early neutering ferrets. I have 6 late neutered males (by my
definition), the eldest being 6 years old. These guys are huge, very
active (6+ hours a day), have maintained muscle mass and most of the
bulk associated with hobs (but not that thick head I love so much). Not
a single one of these boys have been sick enough to require a vet visit,
even though they have shared the 'flu with me and came down with the
runs a few times. In comparison with the early neutered males I've
adopted or seen, they are definitely healthier and more active. It
remains to be seen if they live longer lives, or have lower disease
rates. The same general statements are true for the females as well,
except they are nearly the same size as early neutered females.

Of course the downside is I once had four whole males, if full rut, in
my house at one time. That will clear the sinuses.

I have a question for vets (or others) with knowledge of developmental
physiology: I know when neutering stops having an impact on the
development of the skeleton because I have seen and measured it, but at
what point does neutering stop impacting the development of other

Bob C