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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

Breeding and Reproduction of Ferrets

By James K. Morrisey, DVM, DABVP (Avian), Service Chief, Companion Exotic Animal Medicine Service, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University

Ferrets reach sexual maturity between 4 and 8 months of age, occurring in the first spring after birth. The vast majority of ferrets are spayed or neutered before 6 weeks of age. This is primarily because females come into “heat” when they reach sexual maturity and will remain in heat unless bred. This condition can lead to a fatal infection or cause a drop in blood cell production, which also can be fatal.

Male ferrets that have not been neutered have a strong, musky smell when they come into season, which happens twice yearly. They also mark territory by urinating on it.

If your ferret is not spayed or neutered when you get it, you should talk to your veterinarian about performing the procedure. It is essential that all pet ferrets be spayed or neutered at an appropriate age.