Message Number: YG3136 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-05-02 14:19:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Possible Adrenal?

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., Georgia Bambaci
<flipped4ferrets@y...> wrote:
> I have a 4 year old ferret that I am concerned about.
> He has some hair loss but only on the tail. It is a
> stringy tail, not bald anywhere, but I also see
> blackheads. I believe they are causing the hair loss.
> This ferret has his own cage and has free play alone
> because he doesn't like the other ferrets. He will
> try to attack them if they are loose together. I have
> heard that one of the signs of adrenal is aggressive
> behavior. For the past couple of days, I have noticed
> his private is alittle red. I would like to take him
> to the vet to get tested. What test should they be
> doing? One vet recommends an ultrasound at $200 and
> the other one I spoke to says to do an adrenal palette
> at $150. Both of these tests are expensive. Is there
> any others that are somewhat cheaper? Which of these
> would be the most effective at diagnosing a problem?

Well, the symptoms that you relate may be the early signs of adrenal
disease, but there are far more ferrets who simply are aggressive
toward other ferrets on general principle than because of an
elaboration of estrogen or testosterone due to adrenal disease.

The rat tail sign may simply be a sign of stress - a ferret who is in
constant battle with other ferrets would certainly be under stress.

REgarding testing protocols for adrenal disease, the adrenal panel
(provided it is the one available at the University of Tennessee is
far better for identifying adrenal disease in ferrets. It is
approximately 95% predictive, with few false positives. Ultrasound
is a poor choice, as many ferrets may have estrogen-secreting lesions
that are not large enough to cause an increase in the size of the
adrenal gland, which is required to make an ultrasound diagnosis.
Personally, I believe that ultrasound rarely contributes
significantly to diagnosis in adrenal disease in the ferret.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
Join the Ferret Health List at