Message Number: SG7637 | New FHL Archives Search
Date: 2004-01-30 03:08:28 UTC
Subject: Re: what causes adrenal gland disease?
Message-ID: <>

Hi Rochelle,
That is a great question, and we are just
now getting the answers! Recent research by
Dr Nico Schoemaker at the Utrecht vet school
in Holland has helped answer your question.
Ferret adrenal glands have both LH and FSH
receptors on them just like the ovaries and the
testicles do. When ferrets are spayed or neutered
(as neonates by all of the major ferret farms) then the
adrenal glands start to respond to the high levels of LH
in the bloodstream. Keeping pet ferrets indoors under
"long day photoperiods" also adds to this problem. When
the adrenal glands are over stimulated, then they become
hyperplastic or neoplastic (cancer). So the short answer
is spaying and neuter pet ferrets at a young age is the major
cause of adrenal gland disease (just like it is in mice). Plus
keeping them in long day photoperiods adds to the problem.
That is why keeping a natural photoperiod or keeping them
in 14-16 hours of darkness per day is sometimes recommended.
There is also a possibility of a problem with the tumor suppressive
gene which is the 'genetic problem" that may add to the problem.
This problem has not been verified as of yet, but it is possible.
A viral cause is very unlikely.
Remember Lupron works by lowering the LH and FSH levels,
which stops the stimulation to the adrenals. Thus it may also be
useful to give Lupron to young ferrets to help prevent adrenal gland
Hope that helps,
Jerry Murray, DVM