Ferret Lifespan

Our poor little ferret is now 6 years old. Ferrets generally live anywhere from 5-7 years.  Last year we did a Deslorelin (Suprelorin) implant, which may have helped and is generally good for 9 months to a year.  The implant can be felt at the base of the back of the neck, even after a year.  So going in to the vet, we wanted to know if the old implant would be removed or not when adding the replacement implant. We also were curious about Melatonin implant options.

As it turns out, the old implant crumbled as it was being removed. The vet was able to get most of it out, and then added both implants.  Given our ferret’s age, we wanted to do what may help extend his life; from our point of view, we just got him!  He hasn’t handled anesthesia well in the past, so we had them do a local with minimal gassing along with a pre-treatment of injectable Benadryl (it’s helped offset issues in the past).  While the procedure is quick, it took several hours for him to return from being groggy before it was considered “safe” to discharge him.

shaved ferret implant

You can see where the implants were done on his back. The first 24 hours, the vet reminded us, are important as his body temperature may be slightly lower and he would need to be kept warm.  We’ll see how he does over the next few weeks as far as behavior and energy level. Had we anticipated better, we’d have a little ferret sweater ready for him, although there’s always the risk of overheating these little fellows. So, moot.

FWIW, Most of the time, the things ferrets die from are glandular tumors.  Theories abound, but apparently the main contender is that ferrets are spayed/neutered too young, so they aren’t able to go through the necessary biological changes that help to enhance their lifespan (One way you can tell that a baby ferret has had this done is by the tattoo marks on the ear; Marshall’s ferrets make one mark for de-scenting, and another for spay/neutering).

 

2 Replies to “Ferret Lifespan”

  1. It’s unclear why the lifespan is so short. 4-5 years is considered old, and 6+ elderly. Muscle loss (weight), increased sleeping (18+ hours/day) and decreased activity (running around outside the cage for 15 min before napping vs 3 hours) are what we’ve noticed. Sadly, the implants seem to not be helping in these areas this time around, but they may help minimize tumor growth (usual for elderly ferrets to suffer from these).

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