Lightning the ferret visited the surgery this week..
Female ferrets (jills) come into season (oestrus) in spring and summer (March to September) as the day length begins to increase. They will stay in season either until mated or until day length reduces again. During this time they are subject to high levels of the hormone oestrogen. This can suppress the production of red blood cells and lead to a life threatening anaemia. Female ferrets can die from the subsequent anaemia unless brought back out of season. In the wild they are mated which stops their season but results in pregnancy. This is obviously not ideal in captivity! How can we stop her developing the anaemia and stop her cycling without having litter after litter of ferrets?
Spaying the Jill - involves the removal of the ovaries and uterus avoids unwanted litters, stops the female from cycling (thereby stopping the risk of the anaemia) and significantly reduces the smell from the glands in the skin. Jill Jab - Oestrus can also be stopped by giving her a hormone injection commonly referred to as a ‘jill jab’ which is usually done just as the jill is showing signs of oestrus or just before the breeding season begins. In most jills the signs of season will have abated by 10 days after the injection and may last for the entire breeding season. ‘Suprelorin’implant - , is placed under their skin - usually this is done whilst sedated or anaesthetized. The implant is performed at regular intervals throughout the ferret’s life. The implants can be used in both sexes and work to reduce the release of GnRH from the brain and remove the trigger for hormone production in the adrenal glands which causes damage to these glands.