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If you want a new furry friend, you might consider getting a ferret as a pet. They are great companions and are the only domesticated animal left in the Mustelidae family.
Ferrets are exotic, playful animals that can develop a bond with their owners. They are intelligent and curious, which is why it’s essential to train them and have them interact with the owners.
Before owning a ferret as a pet, one thing to keep in mind is that they do shed significantly. You will need to know how to properly take care of your furry little friend for the sake of everyone in the household (including the ferret).
Keep reading this article to learn more about ferrets’ shedding habits, why they shed, when they shed the most, and how to manage their shedding.
Do Ferrets Shed?
Yes, ferrets shed like many other pets.
Ferrets have two coats.
- The first coat is an undercoat of dense, soft fur that helps to insulate them.
- The second coat is a topcoat with thick, longer guard hairs meant to repel dirt and keep the ferret waterproof.
If you blow on a ferret, you will notice when the dark hairs separate, you can see the light furs underneath. The undercoat of most ferrets is cream or white in color, and they have markings on the outer layer.
What Time of the Year do Ferrets Shed the Most?
Ferrets shed two times a year, in the fall and the springtime.
Ferrets are extremely photosensitive animals. Therefore, their shedding behavior is affected by how much light they are exposed to. A ferret loses more fur as the photoperiod (the amount of time light is available) decreases in a specific area. Therefore, your ferret might not shed at the exact same time as another ferret being kept somewhere else.
Because ferrets shed differently due to how much light they are exposed to, ferrets in the northern hemisphere have a different shedding season than ferrets in the southern hemisphere.
Ferrets usually shed for anywhere between 6-8 weeks. Younger ferrets typically shed between August to November. On the other hand, older ferrets will shed from June to October.
Younger pet ferrets in the southern hemisphere usually shed from January to April for the younger ferrets, while older ferrets shed between December to May.
Keep in mind that your ferret is likely losing fur year-round. The shedding periods are just the phases where they lose significantly more hair.
A ferret’s gender also affects when they will shed the most hair. Males tend to shed the most hair from January to June, peaking in February. On the other hand, female ferrets shed the most between April to May.
Specific medications can also affect your ferret’s shedding cycles. For example, ferrets that are given melatonin experienced shedding phases that were off by about six months.
Why do Ferrets Shed?
Ferrets can shed for several reasons. Most of the time, the shedding is a natural result of the weather patterns, sex, exposure to light, and nutrition.
There can be other health-related diseases causing your ferret to shed, such as alopecia, blackheads, or adrenal disease.
How to Manage Ferret Shedding:
Ferret shedding can be an overwhelming experience for both you and the ferret. However, there are many ways to manage your ferret’s shedding properly so everyone is happy.
During shedding season, it helps to brush your ferret using a soft brush to keep the process moving forward.
- You will want the brush to have thick bristles.
- Brush your ferret against the grain using short movements.
- Rotate the wrist a quarter turn to remove the dead fur.
- After the first round of brushing against the grain, brush your ferret again with the direction of the hair.
- This time, you will want to use long and gentle strokes.
Your brush might be dirty at this point from accumulating the dead hair from the first round. You can remove the dead hair from the brush using an old comb.
Bathing the ferret will also help. However, you want to be careful because too much bathing can result in the ferret’s skin becoming too dry. Depleting your ferret of natural oils can worsen the shedding and cause a foul odor when the oils return.
It is a good idea to feed your ferret a supplement that will help their shedding process.
Although Ferrets are naturally equipped to deal with their shedding, certain supplements can significantly help their digestive system while they shed.
Ferrets are susceptible to making hairballs (similar to cats). However, they rarely cough up hairballs like cats. Therefore, the hairballs are much more likely to stay stuck in their digestive system and can cause a blockage. To avoid an expensive surgery to save your ferret’s life, it is best to feed them these supplements to keep their digestive system moving along.
How to Properly Bathe Your Ferret
Is Your Ferret Shedding Out of Season?
If your ferret is shedding off-season, it could be due to several reasons.
Some of these reasons include improper care on your part as a pet owner. One of the most common causes of ferrets losing hair (outside of their regular shedding season) is malnutrition.
Ferrets must eat certain foods that meet their dietary needs. A ferret diet should consist of 35% animal protein and between 15% to 20 of fat. If a ferret is not getting these nutrients, it will become unhealthy and start to lose hair as a result.
Hair shedding can also occur if your pet ferret is not getting adequate sleep. Ferrets sleep for a food portion of the day and are most active from dusk until dawn. During their long period of sleeping, a ferret needs a dark and quiet environment so they can get proper sleep and absorb the needed melatonin. Make sure your ferret is not constantly being disturbed or woken up from their sleep.
Truly, ferrets can make for loving pets and amazing four-legged friends. You just have to make sure you take care of your beloved pet during its crucial shedding period.
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