Message Number: YG2931 | New FHL Archives Search
From: FurTulsa
Date: 2001-04-25 08:28:00 UTC
Subject: Re: adrenal shocker

*I apologize in advance for the length of this post. This is
a subject that is very personal and painful to me*

Dear Dr. Burgess: I just wanted to say thank you for that
excellent post.

Dear MC or any others: I sincerely hope you are not offended
as I have great respect for you and knowledge in ferrets.

Dear ALL Vets and Posters: Does anyone else have any data
and/or research information to add to this subject?

As a shelter operator, I see so many illnesses in the early
nutered ferrets... then as a private breeder, I did my own
research and with the conlusions I drew... I am among those
breeders who does not allow my kits to be altered until 6
months of age.
The reason is the exact rationale that you have stated.
Although I am aware there is currently not enough solid,
concrete data to make it classified as an undenieable medical
fact... I have seen and read enough to have convinced myself,
in my own heart, that there is indeed a connection.
I do believe there may still be other factors... genetics,
nutrition, lifelong care, lighting, weather patterns... these
may all play a part and increase odds as well.... who knows?

I PERSONALLY also believe there is a direct connection to
increased illnesses in general and the age these kits are
force weaned and deprived of natures food from their mommas.
Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Each time I have a litter... as they reach that age where
"mill" kits are taken from their mother... "weaned" and
prepared for alteration and shipping.... I look at my kits...
I see how incrediably tiny and helpless they are at this age.
In general, the eyes and ears are still not open... they are
toddling but not really walking well yet... and still so
totally 100% dependant on momma and their natural formula.
Even after 4 years and over 20 litters, I still do that with
every litter at that age... I hold them and think of that and
I cry... I cry for the little ones who are taken from momma
much too soon and the stress they go through.

If anyone here has never seen what a kit actually looks like
at that age... email me and I will be happy to share pictures.
Most people are shocked to realize how obvious it is they are
nowhere near ready toleave momma. Yes, at 6 weeks when they
hit the pet store, they look like "little mini ferrets"... but
they have JUST gone through an amazing growth spurt. At 4.5 to
5 weeks, when actually taken from momma to prepare for the pet
store.... they are hardly reconizable as ferrets and so
obviously not ready fo what they are about to have happen to


"Dear MC, I discovered adrenal disease (and insulinomas) in
the 1980's prior to any published reports of these diseases
and so have been tracking the incidence of these tumors longer
than most people. There is no question that the incidence of
adrenal disease has changed alarmingly in the decade of the
90's. I used to see 10 to 20 insulinomas for each adrenal
tumor and adrenal disease was an occasional problem of older
ferrets, mostly 5 or older. Now the adrenal tumors are more
frequent than insulinomas, and start at much younger ages.
Also I rarely saw bilateral adrenal lesions in the "old days",
and these are common now. The only thing that has changed
significantly in the past decade is the switch from small
local breeding programs (where the ferrets were neutered at 5
to 6 months old), to huge breeding facilities where neutering
occurs at a few weeks of age. The ferrets are still fed and
housed by owners much as they were in the 80's, so day cycles,
etc, do not account for the change in incidence. I suppose
one could hypothesize heavy inbreeding as a cause, but the
time span is probably too short to change the genetic pool
that severely, and different breeders with different breeding
stock all show the same problem. The only common link is
early neutering. There was a ferret study in Europe in the
past 12 to 18 months which claimed a direct link between age
of neutering and adrenal tumors, although it wasn't a really
good study protocol. Also a recent study in rats (who are not
prone to adrenal tumors) produced adrenal lesions similar to
ferrets when the rats were neutered very young. So, you have
to draw your own conclusion, but there is no doubt that
something has radically altered the tumor incidence in the
past 12 to 14 years in American ferrets. It's not just
"increased awareness" by veterinarians. I was very aware of
the disease in the 1980's and it just wasn't that common. To
my knowledge no other theory proposed, really adequately
explains my observations over the past 15 years.
Best Wishes,Mark Burgess DVM"