Managing the sexual health of ferrets

Ferrets are unusual animals and the way they come into heat needs understanding and careful attention. Female ferrets (jills) who are not bred or stopped from coming into season in other ways can really suffer. Only mating or the end of the breeding season can end a jill’s heat. This means if their reproductive health is not understood and managed, it could be fatal.  

If you’ve just got a ferret and/or you don’t understand much about how to manage their sexual health, then we strongly advise that you book an appointment with our Head Vet Alun Edwards at our Bromsgrove practice to get the facts and discuss what’s best for your ferret.

Book a sexual health check for your ferret

Below, Alun shares the key things you need to know and the main questions we are asked about neutering, contraception, and managing the sexual health of ferrets. 

When will ferrets come into heat? 

Ferrets mate between March and September as the days get longer. Both male and female ferrets reach sexual maturity in their first spring, which means they can be as young as four months old when they first come into heat.  

When a jill comes into heat, she produces oestrogen, which reduces the production of red blood cells. This can cause anaemia which if left unmanaged, can be life-threatening. Once a heat cycle has ended, another cycle can start if the female is still within the breeding period. Only mating or the end of the breeding season can end a jill’s heat. So, if you’re not planning on breeding your ferret, Alun advises that it is important to stop your females from cycling. 

Neutering males and preventing female ferrets from cycling 

Female ferrets can be prevented from cycling by; spaying, mating them, or by giving them hormone injections or implants. Our Vets will discuss the options with you to find the best one for your pet. 

Male ferrets can be neutered by being castrated, by having a vasectomy (removing a section of the sperm duct), or they too can have hormone implants. 

Which approach is best, surgical or hormonal? 

According to Alun, the hormonal route is the most common route but there are pros and cons to both chemical and surgical approaches. The key thing to remember is that you must understand the options and implications for your pet and act early, before your jill first comes into heat. Book an appointment with Alun at our Bromsgrove surgery so our Vets can talk you through the options. 

Book a sexual health check for your ferret