Message Number: YG2967 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Linda Iroff
Date: 2001-04-26 01:27:00 UTC
Subject: "early" neutering and adrenal

Mark Burgess DVM writes:

> 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.

My own personal experience tells me that waiting until a ferret is 5 or 6
months old will NOT prevent adrenal disease.

I've owned 4 personal ferrets (also did sheltering for a couple years). My
ferrets were purchased as whole kits, the first two came via a pet store
from unknown small breeders, the second two from a reputable small breeder.
They were neutered at 5.5 to 6.5 months old, and each ferret developed
symptoms of adrenal at successively earlier ages: 5.75, 4.5, 3.5 and 2.5
years old.

They have been exposed to excessive light--my hubby is a night owl and
often leaves the lights on til the wee hours. (I now cover the cages and
try to reduce nighttime lighting.)

The first two have gone over the Rainbow Bridge, the others both had
surgery a month ago and left adrenals removed. They just had 500mcg each of
4 month Lupron shots in the hopes of preventing the right adrenals from

I just got 2 3-month old kits from one of the most respected breeders in
the country. I will keep them whole as long as I can stand the smell and
they don't give me asthma. But if these guys get adrenal disease in the
next 2-3 years, I may give up on ferret ownership until someone figures
this damn thing out.

Linda Iroff
Oberlin OH