Secondary Species Ferrets

Дата канвертавання24.04.2016
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  1. What are the three clinical signs that are considered highly suggestive of hyperadrenocorticism in ferrets?

  2. True/False – An ACTH stimulation test or dexamethasone suppression test are more useful in diagnosing hyperadrenocorticism in ferrets than serum estradiol or androstenedione levels.

  3. True/False – Treatment of choice for hyperadrenocorticism in ferrets is surgery.

  4. True/False – After subtotal bilateral adrenalectomy, most ferrets will require glucocorticoid or mineralocorticoid supplementation.


  1. Bilaterally symmetric alopecia (most common clinical sign), swollen vulva in spayed females, and return to sexual behavior in castrated males.

  2. False

  3. True

  4. False

Xiantang et al. 1998. Neoplastic diseases in ferrets: 574 cases (1968-1997). JAVMA 212(9):1402-1406.
SUMMARY: Early studies failed to show that chemical and viral carcinogens induce tumors in ferrets (Mustela putorius furo). This led to the belief that ferrets were resistant to tumor development and that historically, tumors in ferrets are rare. However, as ferrets have become more popular as pets and as research animals, neoplastic disease has been increasingly observed and documented. The Veterinary Medical Data Base (VMDB) at Purdue University has compiled information on diseases diagnosed in all animal species from 24 American and Canadian university veterinary hospitals since 1968. The objective of this retrospective study, using this data base, was to determine the incidence of neoplastic disease in ferrets. Medical records from the VMDB at Purdue University from 1968 to May 1997 were reviewed to identify ferrets with neoplastic disease. Data on tumor type, organ or system affected, sex, age, geographic location of affected ferrets, participating institution, and year of diagnosis were retrieved. An attempt was made to correlate clinical signs with tumor type when this information was available.
12% of ferrets in the data base had 1-3 tumor types. Primary tumors were found in every system (see Table 1 on p. 1404). Endocrine (39.7%), hemolymphatic (15.2%), integumentary (12.9%), and digestive (8.4%) systems were most commonly affected. Types of tumors most commonly found overall were pancreatic islet cell (21.7%) and adrenocortical cell (16.7%) tumors and lymphoma (11.9%), which accounted for 50.3% of tumors. Pancreatic islet cell and adrenocortical cell tumors accounted for 97% of endocrine tumors. Lymphomas accounted for 78% of hemolymphatic tumors diagnosed. Tumors of the integument were more diverse: mast cell, squamous and basal cell, and sebaceous gland tumors were found with approximately equal frequency. Osteomas and chondromas were the predominant tumor types of the skeletal system. Tumors of the reproductive system were found most often in the ovary and testis.
Clinical signs varied with tumor type and organ primarily affected. The majority of pancreatic islet cell tumors were functional and caused variable clinical signs (hypoglycemia, seizures, hind limb paralysis, generalized weakness, weight loss, ataxia). The predominant clinical signs associated with adrenocortical cell tumors were alopecia and enlarged vulva. Clinical signs attributable to lymphoma were lymphadenopathy and organomegaly; to thoracic lymphoma were dyspnea, respiratory distress, and pleural effusion; to lymphoma affecting bone marrow was aplastic anemia; and to multicentric lymphoma were hypercalcemia and generalized tissue mineralization. A sex predilection was not found, although tumors were found more commonly in spayed females and castrated males than in sexually intact females and males, respectively. Age of affected ferrets ranged from <1 month to >15 years, with a mean age of approximately 4.8 years. Tumor bearing ferrets were approximately 2 to 3 times older than unaffected ferrets. Overall tumor incidence was highest in ferrets between 4 and 7 years old. The most common types of tumors were also found in ferrets 4 to 7 years old. The number of tumors diagnosed in ferrets and percentage of neoplastic disease has increased since 1973.
The incidence of tumors was higher in neutered ferrets, compared with sexually intact ferrets, in this study. Because the adrenal gland and gonads are associated closely during embryogenesis, early gonadectomy may remove negative feedback that gonads have on the adrenal gland and other endocrine tissues (where 2 of most common tumor types are found in ferrets). Age may also be a factor. Neutered ferrets were older than sexually intact ferrets and would have had a longer time to develop tumors. Morphologic criteria for malignancy described in the literature should be applied cautiously to tumors from ferrets. Some islet cell tumors that appear benign may metastasize in ferrets. Conversely, focal attenuation or lack of a capsule may be seen in nonneoplastic or hyperplastic lymph nodes and uncommonly in the adrenal gland of ferrets. In conclusion, ferrets have an incidence and spectrum of neoplastic disease similar to other mammalian species.

  1. Fun Ferret Fact Review: What are the order, family, genus, and species of the domestic ferret, European polecat, Siberian polecat, and black-footed ferret? What is the diploid number (2N) for the domestic ferret? What is the average gestation period for the domestic ferret?

  2. According to this study, what are the four most commonly affected body systems with respect to neoplastic disease in the ferret?

  3. According to this study, what are the three most common tumor types seen in ferrets?

  4. What are the most common clinical signs attributed to the three most common tumor types reported in ferrets?

  5. True/False – There is a sex predilection towards females with respect to overall tumor incidence in ferrets.


  1. Order: Carnivora

Family: Mustelidae

Genus & species: Mustela putorius furo (domestic ferret)

Mustela putorius (European polecat)

Mustela eversmanni (Siberian polecat, also steppe polecat)

Mustela nigripes (black-footed ferret, endangered species)

Diploid # (2N) = 40 (FYI - same as the mouse and the squirrel)

Gestation = 42 days

  1. Endocrine, hemolymphatic, integumentary, and digestive systems.

  2. Pancreatic islet cell tumors, adrenocortical cell tumors, and lymphoma.

  3. Pancreatic islet cell tumors: hypoglycemia, seizures, hind limb paralysis, generalized weakness, weight loss, ataxia (majority were functional).

Adrenocortical cell tumors: alopecia, enlarged vulva.

Lymphoma: General – lymphadenopathy, organomegaly; thoracic - dyspnea, respiratory distress, pleural effusion; bone marrow - aplastic anemia; multicentric – hypercalcemia, generalized tissue mineralization.

  1. False. A sex predilection was not found, although tumors were found more commonly in spayed females and castrated males than in sexually intact females and males, respectively
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