If you're interested in adopting a ferret and you've learned that the adoptable female ferrets are already spayed, you might be wondering why. The answer to why most reputable breeders spay their ferrets before allowing them to be adopted might surprise you.
How Ferrets Mate
Ferrets, like many other animals, can't mate every single day of the year. A female ferret's body needs to go into heat, which means that it becomes ready by producing certain hormones. These hormones allow her body to become pregnant, and signal to male ferrets that she's ready to mate.
Why Going into Heat Is Dangerous
While dogs and cats can go into heat and will just eventually leave the stage of heat if no other animal mates with them, female ferrets are unique. Once a female ferret goes into heat, the only thing that will end this phrase of the estrous cycle is having a male ferret mate with her.
The hormone that female ferrets produce, oestrogen, can cause a breakdown of bone marrow in their bodies if they're exposed to it for too long. If another ferret mates with them, this isn't a problem, as they stop producing the hormone once they're impregnated. But if nobody mates with them, the bone marrow may fail to produce red blood cells, which can lead to severe anemia and eventually, death.
Solving the Problem
Unless you intend to become a professional ferret breeder yourself, there's no reason for the average pet owner to need a non-spayed ferret. Spaying has no negative health effects and will ensure that your new pet will live a long and healthy life without their bone marrow being endangered.
If you do plan on becoming a breeder, work with the breeder you're adopting from. If they don't have any ferrets available currently that haven't already been spayed or neutered, you can effectively reserve a ferret from the next litter their female ferret produces so that they don't spay the new ferret.
Helping an Unspayed Ferret
If you've somehow come across a female ferret that wasn't spayed, you should go to a veterinarian (such as one from Belle River Animal Clinic). Your vet can spay your ferret and protect her health, or if you do intend to breed her, they can prescribe hCG, which can artificially force a ferret out of heat. They'll be able to go back into heat again during their next natural cycle, but in the meantime, it will protect their health.