Message Number: YG9845 | New FHL Archives Search
Date: Sat Jan 5, 2002 2:11pm
Subject: Re: [Ferret-Health-list] Photoperiods and sleeping quarters
The photoperiods are important for intact ferrets
and for ferrets that have been spayed or neutered.
For intact ferrets the photoperiod is what controls
the breeding season. In the springtime as the days
become longer (ie.more light) the melatonin level
is decreased. Ferrets shed, put on their summer
coat, and lose some weight. Plus the breeding
season starts. In the fall as the days become shorter
(ie less light and more darkness) the melatonin level is
increased. Ferrets shed, put on their thick winter coat,
and gain their winter weight. Plus the breeding season
Now for pet ferrets that have been spayed/neutered, the
photoperiod is also important. The adrenal glands are
"acting like ovaries or testicles" because they have LH
receptors on them. Thus if they are kept indoors with
artificial lights on at night time, they are being kept in
"long day" photoperiods (like spring/summer time). This
stimulates the adrenal glands. With chronic stimulation
the adrenal glands produce the sex hormones, and this
may cause adrenal gland disease with time. Unfortunately
most pet ferrets are spayed/neutered at an early age,
kept indoors under "long day" photoperiods, and are at
risk for adrenal gland disease.
Keeping your ferrets in a fall/winter like photoperiod
(8-10hours of light,14-16 hours of dark) may help prevent
the stimulation to the adrenal glands and adrenal gland problems.
Treatment with melatonin simulates a fall/winter photoperiod
which causes a decrease in the LH levels which stops the
stimulation to the adrenal glands. This in turn stops the
overproduction of the sex hormones by the adrenal glands.
So the big picture is to keep your ferrets in a dark room
at night time! Try to keep them in the dark just like they would
be if outdoors during the fall/winter time!
Hope that answers your question,
Jerry Murray, DVM
Send comments to Pam at email@example.com. Please note that this address is only useful for questions about the FHL archive. Questions about ferret health, or those intended for the FHL, should be sent to the Ferret Health List.