Message Number: YG2709 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Pam Sessoms
Date: 2001-04-18 17:51:00 UTC
Subject: Re: [Ferret-Health-list] Re: Euthanasia

On Thu, 19 Apr 2001, Mike Janke wrote:
> Many have reported the same reaction, but I have had three ferrets put
> to sleep and I have not seen one bottle-brush their tail. Perhaps it
> was because they were so heavily sedated before the final injection.

Yeah, the (admittedly very few) ferrets I've seen euthanized have been
pre-medicated with Telazol, and they didn't have the bottle-brush reaction
either... The most recent one was easily distracted from the telazol shot
with a bit of warm chicken gravy and didn't so much as flinch; he just
licked slower and slower until he was totally limp and unaware.

Anyway, Dr. Williams addressed the bottle-brush phenomenon in the FML; if
it's OK to copy it here, it is below. On the other hand, if it's not cool
to bring in stuff from other forums, a moderator can feel free to reject
this post...

Best wishes,
-Pam S.

The likely reason for this phenomenon is simply a contraction of the
erector pili muscles which are attached to follicles in the tails of

These small muscles are not distributed diffusely throughout the body, but
many species have them - and when they contract, the attached hairs "stand
on end". Dogs have them along the dorsum of the neck and back, so when
they get angry - "their hackles stand up." In ferrets, the largest
follicular muscles are in the tail, so they can have that bottle brush

These muscles are composed of smooth muscles and contraction is generally
involuntary. Thus, the reaction at euthanasia is an involuntary one, as
is defecation and urination - smooth muscle contraction. I have never
considered it a pain or fright reaction.

With kindest regards,
Bruce Williams, dVM
(from FML # 3304)