How to Breed Ferrets

I’ve been asked by many people about how to breed ferrets and my answer has always been the same. “Are you stark raving mad? Why on earth would you want to breed ferrets?” followed by Joey’s “DUH!” look!

Ask any ferret breeder how to breed ferrets and they’ll usually agree – you’re going to need deep pockets so that you can send all your vet’s children to private school with the money you would have forked out!

The list of things which could – and often do — go wrong is pretty long, and there is always the miserable chance of losing your jill, or losing all the kits, and even worse, losing the whole kit and caboodle!

Another point to consider is the temperament of both ferrets. Obviously you don’t want to mate a skittish male with a ditzy female, as no one would want to end up with neurotic, frightened ferrets that twitch then bite from fright!

Anyway – you want to know how to breed ferrets? Let’s start here….

 

How to Breed Ferrets Part 1 “The Courtship”

 

A typical male, the hob has no sense of romance whatever. No companiable fireside drink. No gazing lovingly into the jill’s eyes. No flowers, no soft music.

No sirree! The hob’s “How to Woo Your Jill” handbook is straight from the cave. The typical ferret mating game is an incredibly rough-and-tumble episode, something right out of a Neanderthal’s book of courtship.

Female ferrets are polyestrous, meaning they usually come into heat more than once a year. For us down under, that means they usually come into season around September and again in December. For those in the northern hemisphere, that’s around March and August. But like anything, it’s not a hard and fast rule.

 


About 7 years ago, both Friskie and Fidget came into season about 4 times during spring to autumn, and others in the Ferret Society had the same problem.


 

Males go into rut a month earlier and I really must stress this – the “whole male” (one with all his bits) during this period is absolutely gross. They smell vile and have rather unsavory habits! I think even their own mothers would find it hard to love them in this state!

By the way, that is one thing you better not ever try – putting a son with his mother – because even if they don’t care, it would be disastrous for the kits. Inbreeding can cause problems such as deformities in the kits’ jaws and hind legs, sometimes so bad that the kits have to be put down. And that goes for brothers and sisters, too. No incest allowed!

I thought having a teenage son was grotty enough but it doesn’t hold a candle next to a hob in rut! Their hair gets very greasy and they smell and they piddle and drag their stomachs through the piddle puddle, marking their territory, and they also get really aggressive with other males so have to be kept on their own.

Hmmmm. Kinda does sound like a teenage male..

Oh it really is revolting and the smell – oh the smell – it is BAD!

When the female goes into season, her vulva pops out and looks like a garbanzo (chickpea).

 

When this happens, wait for 14 days before putting her with the hob. If the jill isn’t ready, she won’t take kindly to having a bully grab her by the scruff so will fight and it could end up with her getting hurt.

Most breeders feel it is better for the jill to be brought to the male’s territory for the union to take place.

 

How to Breed Ferrets Part 2 “The Mating Game”

 

The actual mating process is not for the faint-hearted – it’s pretty vicious!

When put together, the male (the hob) will aggressively grab the female (the jill) by the scruff of her neck and drag her around the cage, mounting her several times, and even causing the jill to scream with pain. At least it certainly looks like it’s pain! Even if the jill goes limp and allows herself to be dragged around, it’s still a very distressing sight for the jill’s owner!! It’s almost like you’re waiting for the hob to bring out his wooden club!

 

Tip – don’t watch! Just let the two of them get on with it. Incredibly, this whole drama is essential for ovulation to occur. The hob has a j-shaped “penis bone” and once he is locked into the jill, there is no way you’ll separate them without causing damage. (So don’t try!!)

 

The whole process can take several hours to complete and once finished, the pair will usually stop to clean themselves up and eat and drink before the hob starts on the female again.

If you want to be sure that your jill has conceived, leave her with the male for a whole day. That should be sufficient time for pregnancy to take place.

Once finished and the pair have been separated, make sure you inspect the jill’s neck to make sure there aren’t any deep punctures which need attention and also check that there are no signs of vaginal infection in the days following the mating.

The vulva will usually start to decrease in a week, sometimes two. If the vulva has not gone down within 14 days, the jill will have to be taken back to the hob for another session. Lucky girl … NOT!

 

How to Breed Ferrets Part 3 “The Pregnancy”

 

If the mating is successful, the pregnancy will last approximately 42 days and the jill will become noticeably “clucky” during that time. She will start yanking the hairs out of her tail, I guess to feather her nest so to speak, and you will notice her getting fatter over the time. She might even get broody with you, and start pulling the hairs out of your head when she gets close enough.

Of course even if the mating was a dud, you will notice all these things happening anyway, as the jill will be going through a phantom pregnancy. This is pretty common and I wonder if it causes the jill as much frustration as it does to the owner!

 


As I said earlier, breeding ferrets is nothing like breeding dogs and cats. It is fraught with difficulty and can cost a lot of money in vet bills, as well as causing the death of your little jill. The ferret kits don’t always all survive and for the ones that do, have you got good homes lined up for them?


 

I bred Friskie and Fidget with CJ at the same time and they had their kits within hours of each other. Fidget had 12 kits and only 6 survived, 3 boys and 3 girls. She didn’t get any problems, thank goodness, but with Friskie it was a different story.

She gave birth to 6 kits and I noticed she was still straining but nothing was happening. We took her to our vet and after feeling her stomach, he found that she still had more kits inside. I had to leave her with the vet for a couple of hours while he put her on a drip to stimulate her uterus to continue with its contractions.

Rushing home, I put all of Friskie’s kits in with Fidget’s lot, then raced back to the vet. By the time I got there, 6 more kits had arrived but they were all stillborn.

I took Friskie back and reunited her with her babies and everything was fine until about a week later, when she developed mastitis. Back we went to the vet for treatment.

Thank heavens we didn’t encounter any further problems after that and we ended up with a total of 6 boys and 6 girls, all of whom were just the sweetest and most affectionate little babies ever to have been born.

baby ferrets
I had a list of people wanting to have a ferret and having vetted them, I picked the ones I thought would be the best parents. I also gave them a 5-page information pack with all the information they would need about bringing up ferrets, sterilizing them, feeding them and whatever else I could think of, as well as a money-back guarantee if they decided that they had made the wrong decision with their new ferret.

Fat lot of good it did me. One lady, who was a teacher at my kids’ high school, bumped into me at the supermarket and when I asked how her boy was getting on, she advised me blandly that he’d escaped from his cage and gone missing. I asked her if she had sterilized him, as I had instructed, and she said no. I asked if she had advised Ferret Rescue or done any of the other things I had written down in case of a lost ferret, and she said no.

I could almost feel the pulse in my temple about to burst with anger. It was obvious that everything I had told her, and everything I had given her, had not been absorbed or acted upon.

So much for all my vetting! It turned out to be quite a waste of time and effort, because I also found out later that a couple of other owners of my babies did stupid things.

 

Tip – just because potential owners look like they’re paying attention to what you’re saying, don’t assume anything!

 

I vowed I would not breed again unless I kept all the babies myself. At least then I would KNOW they’d be looked after properly and would have a long and happy life.

 


 

You can hold your breath for about 42 days and see if your little girl will become a mother or if she will need to be mated again.

 

How to Breed Ferrets Part 4 “The Big Day”

 

Assuming the union was successful, then you can expect the jill to produce tiny, hairless, blind and deaf little kits that look rather like a pile of caterpillars rather than ferrets!

 

Don’t disturb the mother or the kits for the first week, otherwise you might find that the mother will get spooked and eat her babies.

Let me repeat – the mother may eat her babies.

You will have to put food in the cage and will be able to check the litter when the mother is distracted or eating, and then you can make sure there are no dead kits in the pile and perhaps be able to count the number of babies. Of course if you find that you have more kits than the mother has nipples, then you might have to rethink about how to fix the problem.

As long as the jill has a good diet, she should be able to feed a large litter without any hassles, so it might not be necessary to find a substitute mother to help out.

After a week, you can handle the kits and talk to the mother but don’t throw out the soiled bedding just yet, as that might upset all of them. However make sure that there aren’t any kits caught up in the bedding or shoved to the back of the cage whenever you check up on them, especially around the 3 week mark, as the kits will start wandering about then, but will still be blind. Unless the mother yanks them back to the ‘nest’, they might find themselves out in the cold and be unable to get back.


Around this time the kits will be interested in trying out their mother’s grown up food. At this stage it is sensible to put the food in on a flat surface (like the top to an ice cream container) so that the kits can’t fall into a bowl and hurt themselves. I used to give the kits (human) baby food at this stage, as I reckoned it would give them everything they needed nutritionally. They seemed to thrive on it. As they got a bit older, I changed the diet to softened Iams kitten food before leaving just the dry kitten food for them at around 5-6 weeks old.

You should also give a small amount (like a teaspoon) of freshly chopped liver to the mother so that she can build up her iron levels but don’t give too much, as it can cause diarrhea. Also good is a smoothie made of some lactose-free pet milk or no lactose milk, with an egg yolk and a squirt of Nutrigel whisked together for added vitamins and minerals.

If you give them fresh meat, make sure you check the cage and remove any old uneaten food so that it doesn’t go off.

The kits should have fur after 9 days, with a decent coat after 5 weeks. Their eyes and ears open within 3-5 weeks and their canine teeth burst forth in their 7th week. Obviously they will have their baby teeth before then and you have to make sure they become socialized so that they know that latching onto your finger with their sharp little teeth is a definite no no. And yes, they CAN bite, so it’s up to you to handle them and socialize them properly.

It should go without saying that the cage should be protected from extreme weather conditions and have good circulation, because newborn kits are really, really smelly!

One thing I noticed with our babies is how they’d fall asleep suddenly. One minute they’d be playing and crawling over each other and then it would be like one of them died. A head drops and the body stops … enough to make you gasp with worry. But then you find they are just fast asleep.

Kits aren’t ready to leave their mother until they’re 10 weeks old AT THE EARLIEST, preferably 12 weeks. I’ve known breeders who’ve sold their kits off at 6 weeks old and I’ve taken them and put them with a motherly type so that they wouldn’t feel abandoned.

Whatever your reason for breeding ferrets, DON’T RUSH THIS BIT!

 


 

See how small ferrets are at 5 weeks? That’s Marshmallow in Philip’s pocket.

She was sold to a young girl way too early, and when the girl’s parents wouldn’t let her keep the ferret, we got her.

I don’t know if the fact that she was separated from her mother too early had anything to do with her personality, but she was a totally neurotic little girl. Gorgeous – without a doubt – but very flaky!


We also got Mulder when he was 6 weeks old. The guy I bought him from didn’t care about my suggestion that he should keep his kits with their mother longer. He just wanted to sell the babies and be done with it.

As you can see, Mulder also enjoyed sleeping in the pocket of Philip’s polo shirt 😉  The poor pocket took the brunt of Mulder’s scratching when he wanted to get REALLY comfortable!  LOL!  😀

Fortunately, Mulder wasn’t anything like Marshmallow when he grew up. He was like a big, soft teddy bear!

Personally I believe that the longer you leave the mother to look after them, the easier they are to train later on.

 


 

How to Breed Ferrets Part 5 “Wrapping Up”

 

Assuming all goes to plan, this is pretty much it. Like anything else though, things can go wrong, so always make sure you have a ferret-knowledgeable vet you can call.

You may have decided that it’s all too much to worry about. If that’s the case – good! I’ve always thought that breeding any animal “because they’re cute” is a pretty lousy reason, and if you’re hoping to make an income from breeding ferrets – well, you probably won’t!

Enjoy your ferrets and sterilize them! The boys will be happy as eunuchs (at least, it doesn’t seem to trouble my husband) and the girls won’t mind being spinsters.

Trust me, I know about these things  😀

But hey … you don’t have to believe me!

Here’s an article by Vickie McKimmey called “To Breed or Not to Breed?” (American Ferret Report, Vol 14, Issue 1) that you might find interesting, and this lady has been a ferret breeder for 15 years when she wrote it  😮

You can download the pdf HERE.

 

 

However, if you ARE planning to breed your jill, it’s important that you’re aware of the following conditions which can affect her and/or her kits …

Aplastic Anemia

Eclamptogenic Toxemia

Heat Periods

Hypocalcemia

Mastitis

Osteodystrophy


Another article about breeding, which might interest those of you who’re thinking about breeding your jill (but be aware that this is from a UK ferret breeder’s point of view) …

Ferrets First – Breeding Ferrets


To give you some idea of what kits are like at various stages, here are a couple of YouTube videos showing them from newly born to approximately 6 weeks old 🙂

Ferret Kits HD New born!! by rabbitcontrol westmids

4 week old ferret kits feeding by P Matty
Yes, they really do sound like that 😀

Ferret Babies by arieloz
These little cuties look like they’re around 6 weeks old.  As you can see, they’re still so young and need their mother so please … if you breed ferrets … don’t let them go before 10 weeks old at the earliest!


 


Comments

How to Breed Ferrets — 52 Comments

  1. In no way am I gonna breed them but was very interesting reading about. Just wanted to say thank u,it takes a special person to do this so people like me can enjoy and love them. I love my two. They are the sweetest. Than you again!

  2. I’m so glad you enjoyed the page, Kari 🙂

    It was lovely to read your comment so thank you for taking the time to write 😀

  3. Thanks for the blog,I’m on my 1st batch of kits and only lost 1 out of 6,they are eating now and drinking on there own so time to take out! You have hit some interesting pointers that have came in use..thank you.
    Baz.

  4. Hi Baz – I’m so glad to know you only lost one of your kits! It’s pretty awful to lose them but thank goodness your remaining 5 are healthy and doing well!
    Glad to know you got something useful from this page 🙂
    Hope you’re checking out prospective buyers for your babies and will make sure they go to good homes. Mind you, I know that despite my attempts to ensure a good home for my kits, some of the people who took them didn’t pay attention to anything I said in the 5 page booklet I gave them 🙁
    If you feel like it, please post a photo of your babies here. I would love to see them and I’m sure the other readers of this page would love to see them too 😀
    Big hugs to the mama from her new buddies in WOz 😉
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  5. In the 1970’s and 80’s I used to breed and sell ferrets. I would give prospective owners a small handbook that I’d made up on the care of them. When I first got them the people I bought them from fed them bread and milk for every meal !!. At one stage I had 18 ferrets who where completely had tame and in their own way very affectionate, they can’t show it but they are. The cruelty show to some of these animals by uncaring people is awful. Whenever I bought a new animal I would put it in an isolation cage for 2 weeks just to make sure they were really healthy. It obviously wasn’t long enough. It was only after I’d introduced him to the the other animals that I noticed he was favouring one foot. I checked him out and he’d got foot-rot. All the rest caught to. I tried everything but they couldn’t be treated and had to be put down. I was so fond of losing Sally, the alpha female, that I decided I’d never have ferrets again.

  6. Oh Andy, what a tragic story :'(
    I don’t understand why the vet couldn’t fix the foot rot 🙁 Perhaps 30-40 years ago they didn’t realise that all they had to do was give your ferrets Ivermectin and that would cure them 🙁
    Were you living in the UK or in Oz?
    I know how ignorant a lot of breeders were here in WOz back in the mid-90s and I’d have arguments with them about feeding their ferrets bread and milk, then liver, for crying out loud. Those poor ferrets would have been weak from their diarrhea, surely 🙁
    And as for breeding – so many didn’t realise they shouldn’t breed ferrets from the same family. Jeez! I’m surprised we were able to keep the gene pool going with such bad husbandry!
    You sound like a very caring ferret person so I think it’s a shame that you decided not to carry on. Would you ever change your opinion?
    Best
    ~Nona

  7. My circumstances have changed and I can no longer keep ferrets. They were favourite animal companions, I hate the word pet, it demeans the companion. I was in Oz when I decided I wanted a ferret. They were my hunting companions too. I removed 1000’s of rabbits from the bush with my companions.If you don’t understand ferrets and rabbiting you don’t understand ferrets. I set up a series of plastic pipes in their living area and they’d spend most of their time chasing each other through the pipes, that’s when they weren’t sleeping. They can’t wag their tails or purr by they now you. They’d react in a totally different way to me and strangers. I selectively bred them to be smaller and more agile. When I lost Sally I was devastated, and I still am. I have a photo of her but don’t know how to load it. I cried when I lost her, how tragic for a full grown man to cry over a ferret? if you can’t visualize it you’ve never owned and loved these amazing companions.

  8. Thank you for your informal post, I was considering breeding and wanted to get a better understanding, I understood it took alot of work, but now I see I may lose my little Chi chi, I have decided against it, thank you again.

  9. Hi Daphneanne
    I’ve never experienced that with any of my hobs – does he go through the whole two days of mating and then collapses or what?
    As you might know, the mating process is really quite “violent” so maybe he just gets really exhausted afterwards? That’s just my guess :/
    Have you spoken to your vet about this? I think it’d be a good idea just to make sure your boy hasn’t got a heart problem or anything else which might be the cause of his fainting.
    Hugs to your little guy from his new buddies in the West 🙂
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  10. I rescued a female in tact from a lady who had gotten her at like 6 weeks and was feeding her fries from McDonald’s among other horrible things. Well I had the money saved up to fix her but she ended up getting ece from my other (fixed) male ferret so I spent that getting her healthy again now in lies the problem of she just went into heat about two days ago and I’m broke at the moment and have no in tact male to breed her with I’m so lost on what to do. Any advice?

  11. Hi Stephanie
    Oh dear God, how great for your little girl that you rescued her! The poor little sweetie – what makes people think that french fries is a suitable diet for ferrets? 😮
    These are the 3 things that will get a jill out of heat …

    • Mating her with a full male (if you want to breed)
    • Taking her to the vet for a “jill jab”
    • Mating her with a vasectomized male (to get her out of heat)

    I take it you’re in the States, yes? So, unfortunately I can’t suggest that you go to a ferret rescue to find a vasectomized boy to take her out of season, and it would be hard to find a full male 🙁
    Unfortunately the only solution left is a (ferret) vet’s visit to get the jill jab!
    Leaving a jill in estrus can be dangerous – when I was helping with ferret rescue I had a couple of girls who were seriously in heat but I don’t know how long they were left like that. I took them to the vet and both girls were fine after their injection so it all ended happily. Phew!
    You can read about the problems that occur when a jill is left in season for too long here …

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/aplastic-anemia-in-female-ferrets.html

    I understand that you’re hard pressed to find money for another vet’s visit but I would think that any ferret vet worth his salt would understand how dangerous it is to leave a female in that condition and would give her the injection and perhaps allow you to pay off the account in installments?
    When I had lots of ferrets, my vet was kind enough to do that for me, as I was bringing her lots of patients!
    If that doesn’t work is there a ferret rescue near to where you live? I doubt they’d have a full male in their care but it might be worth contacting the rescue to see if they can help in any way, maybe even giving you the name of their vet who would perform the procedure free-of-charge?
    I’m afraid those are the only ideas I’ve been able to come up with and I hope they help you to get your girl fixed up!
    Hugs to both your babies from their new friends down under 🙂
    Cheers (and wishing you the best of luck!)
    ~Nona

  12. Hi, my lovely lady had 5 babies a week ago, all fat and healthy. Mom is a cuddler and from the moment she gave birth was asking to be picked up and loved, she has even tried to pull me (my hand) into the nest box! What I want to know is, will it be ok to handle the kits to sort out blankets a bit (not to remove them) her fav blanket has a few tassels on it which I found a baby had its head through and would hate for them to get stuck! I did handle that one and she was fine with it. Any info will help, thanks!

  13. Hi ,i have 2 females ferret ,due to them having really bad heats and the jib jab not seeming to work .I got a male .He was too young about 4 months when i got him ,to mate .The jill’s ended their season about ,1 month ago ,at least .Now the hob is wanting to mate with one .She does not appear to be in season .Yes ,i am scared he’s going to hurt her .My vets around here are hopeless .Not sure ,i trust then to sterilise then .Advice please ?

  14. Hi Elaine
    Yes, the hob will hurt the jill if he’s in rut and she’s not interested so the only thing I can suggest is keeping them separated until she’s come into season or you’ve sterilised them all.
    The mating process is really rough and tumble – bad enough when the jill is willing but horrible if she’s not 🙁
    Can I assume you’re in the UK? If so, I’ve just recently finished my UK vets pages so you might find a decent ferret vet near to where you live 🙂 And could I ask you to tell me if you see any dud vets listed as I don’t want to give ferret owners bad vets to go to.
    I do hope you’ll find a decent vet there who knows something about ferrets!
    Have a great Christmas and I hope 2016 will be a wonderful year for you, your family & all your pets 🙂
    Hugs to your babies from their new buddies down under!
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  15. Hello!!

    I know it was last year when this was posted, but I didn’t think that you could even buy ferrets that hadn’t been fixed – another words, anything other than Marshall ferrets. Is there anyone out there that still breeds them here in the USA? I would love to try to breed them myself. Mostly because I keep hearing from my vet that Marshall ferrets end up with different diseases. I’m sad to say that I have lost one of my babies already and it was very difficult. I wouldn’t want to go into mass production of kits, but would enjoy raising a few litters. Any information would be greatly appreciated!!

  16. Hi Lisa
    I have a list of breeders around the US on this page …

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/ferret-breeders-in-the-us.html

    but I’m afraid I haven’t updated it yet so don’t know if the information is still pertinent.
    The American Ferret Assoc have a list of breeders but I’m also not sure how updated the information is …

    http://www.ferret.org/links/bdrMemberships.html

    I hope you’ll be able to find a breeder close to you but please remember not to breed brothers with sisters 🙁
    Another thing – I don’t know if the breeders will be happy to sell a kit for breeding purposes so you’d have to speak to them about that. They might want you to sign a declaration promising not to breed their jill/hob, or perhaps you’d have to pay more for a breeding pair. I know some breeders get very touchy about their kits being used for breeding here in Australia.
    Hope that’s been of some help 🙂
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  17. We’ve got a Jill and am told if they arnt put with a hob they could die. Our idea was to let her have a litter then keep a hob and have it neutered as it’s less risky than having the Jill done. On the understanding that conception isn’t nescesary and wouldn’t need to worry when she comes in season. Good idea it not? Would appreciate any advice.

  18. Wendy, it is true that if a jill comes into heat and is not taken out of heat then it could affect her adversely. The problem is that she’d develop aplastic anaemia …

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/aplastic-anemia-in-female-ferrets.html

    Please understand that a jill doesn’t need to have a litter as there is so much which can go wrong with the pregnancy. A jill could kill and eat all her kits, she could die giving birth, she might reject all the kits, and there are a number of other unhappy outcomes which could happen 🙁
    I honestly don’t think there are any risks involved with having jills sterilised these days, especially if she’s taken to a ferret knowledgeable vet. Once she’s been fixed then you won’t have to worry 🙂
    As for the hob … full males are really, really stinky but once they’ve been fixed then the smell dissipates. However having a sterilised male doesn’t help with a jill. If you want the male to take your jill out of season then he needs a vasectomy; however a vasectomised male smells as bad a a full male and can get very aggressive with other males so usually have to be kept on their own. I think that’s just such a sad life for a male … so much better if both the boy and girl are sterilised!!
    So … my advice to you is to get your jill sterilised and if you want a male as well, then have him fixed as well. Then you’ll have two gorgeous, happy pets 🙂
    Hope that’s been of some help!
    Cheers
    Nona

  19. Hi
    A I have a 1yr old jill who is about to come into her 1st season and I was just wondering if they actually had to be mated with as she is still young

  20. Hi Jake
    I personally don’t recommend breeding your jill at any age. It’s such a rough process, the jill can get hurt and if she does get pregnant, then that *could* be fraught with problems 🙁
    There are 3 things which owners can do with a jill in season …
    * mating her
    * putting her with a vasectomised hob
    * taking her to the vet for a jill jab
    I used to take my girls to a vasectomised hob to bring them out of season but it’s the same as putting them with a full male.
    The only difference is that they don’t get pregnant but they can suffer from a phantom pregnancy, which means they get all broody and start “nesting” but at the end of the 42+ days, there are no kits.
    It got particularly difficult when my girls went into heat several times in one year and they were really getting bruised and battered after their too-often visit to the vasectomised hob.
    I had them all sterilised and then I had no worries. They were happy, I was happy, and peace was restored 😀
    I would highly recommend you having your girl sterilised once she’s out of season!
    Hope this has been of some help 🙂
    Hugs to your girl from her new buddies down under!
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  21. Hey, im from Lithuania, and this is our firs season for our little girl, and we came up with the idea to try making babies for her, as i was very stressful about her health as she is not castrated yet.. So, today the ferret boy came to our place, and first i thought “what a crazy process”, than i red your comments that it has to be like that. I wanted to ask – if its around 3 weeks already of her season – is it still possible that she will get pregnant? Its not about money or cute babies, just i thought that breeding our girl before the castration is the better option for her health. And sorry for mistakes and thanks for the answer 🙂
    p.s. the boy goes home tomorrow and i hope the process will be done already..

  22. Sveiki, Justina 🙂
    Most breeders wait till their jills have been on heat for 2 weeks before they put them with a hob as if it happens earlier, the jill might not be ready and could get hurt during the mating process. 3 weeks should be fine but there are no guarantees that your girl will become pregnant.
    After mating all jills get fatter and go through the motions of preparing their “nest” but at the end of the period (40-odd days), some jills don’t have babies as it was just a phantom pregnancy and then they come into heat again 🙁
    It’s really not necessary to breed a jill before sterilising her – so many things can go wrong for both the mother and the kits that I feel it’s not worth the grey hairs 😀
    However if your jill has mated successfully then I hope everything goes well and that you have a healthy mother and beautiful babies at the end of it all!
    Sėkmės!!!
    ~Nona

  23. Hi,
    About 4-5 weeks ago I found a stray jill in my garden. I Did try and find the owner, but I think she was dumped! No one in a 2 mile radius owns any ferrets, plus one neighbour had someone trying to sell ferrets to his kids and on the same day other seen my little lady along with two others climbing out of his yard bin that was left out for collection! This was the day before I found mine. Sadly the two others have never been seen again!

    Anyway to the point! Went out yesterday to find babies! My girl was skin and bone when I found her, so I thought her putting on weight was just her getting healthy! Now she looks very thin again and I’m worried about her and the kits! I alternate daily between feeding her chicken legs and good quality mince beef from local butcher, plus a constant supply of ferret nuts. I haven’t actually seen the babies yet, but I hear them! I have been advised to give her lactose free milk and raw eggs to help her. Would you advise this? What else would you suggest to give her? She has a super nest made from straw that I would have to destroy in order to see the bodies, should I do this to see in everything is ok and to remove any still born? should I touch the babies at all? Any and all advice is a welcome, as local vets don’t have a lot of knowledge of ferrets, but are trying to help.

    Paul

  24. Hi Paul
    Yes, it would be an excellent idea to give your little girl a smoothie made from no lactose milk and an egg yolk daily. I give this to my guys with added supplements and they not only love it but do well on it. If you can get a bottle of Astaxanthin then it’d be great to put a couple of drops into the smoothie and then you could take the rest of the pill yourself, like I do 😀 Or if Astaxanthin is too hard to come by, then perhaps get a tube of Ferretvite so that she gets her vitamins and minerals.
    Another good thing would be to give her a teensy piece of liver (no more than a teaspoon) daily for about 7-10 days to help get her iron and blood levels up after having the litter.
    I’d also suggest you buy a bag of good quality dry ferret or cat food to that she always has food in a bowl so she can eat whenever she wants to. Ferrets need to eat often and having a well balanced kibble will help her put on weight.
    Straw isn’t the best thing for her bedding as they straw could hurt her eyes, or her kits. It’d be better if you put down a pile of old T-shirts or sweatshirts for her to burrow into with her kits. Don’t use towels as ferrets can get their nails snagged in the material and that might hurt their claws.
    I honestly don’t know if you will spook her by trying to remove her and her kits into the new bedding – some jills eat their kits if they get frightened so there’s always that concern but if you think she’s placid enough, then I would definitely suggest you move them all out into the T-shirts, etc.
    May I just suggest you make sure that she doesn’t stash her chicken legs or bits of mince around where she’s living as if the food goes off and she ate it, it could give her a very severe bout of gastro which could kill her! You’d think ferrets would have cast iron stomachs but they don’t 🙁
    I’ve never heard of ferret “nuts”! Can you please tell me what they are? I tried googling that but to no avail 🙂
    I can’t think of anything else I can add but please don’t hesitate to ask more questions if you have any.
    I’m always very happy to help so please don’t be shy 😀
    Hugs to your little girl and cudos to you for being such a wonderful person and taking her in!
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  25. Hi again Nona,
    Thanks for coming back to me. The lactose free milk was not a hit, on it’s own or with an egg yoke mixed with it. She loves the egg yoke on its own though. She is totally gone off the mince, but is eating about 200g of chicken pieces and no she is not hiding it. I’m feeding her 4 times a day and when I do I let her out for a run which she seems to love! When I mentioned ferret ‘nuts’ what i mean is dry food, sorry should have been clear. I am leaving a constant supply of dry food, but she is not interested, which is odd for her! I’m still very worried about her weight!! I think she has lost more even though she is eating! i’m going to get liver tomorrow, which would be best to get? Pork liver is the easiest, i know local butch has it. I haven’t looked at the kits yet. she get upset and starts chittering. Hopefully she will settle and I’ll move them. i’ll keep in touch

    Thanks again

  26. Ah hah! I do know not all ferrets like drinking the smoothie, which is a shame, but if she likes egg yolk then I honestly think you can give it to her without any problems. It’s full of protein so is what ferrets need and, according to Wiki, rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, & lipids. Egg whites are the problem but I haven’t heard anything bad about yolks and ferrets. If you’re worried about her eating a whole yolk a day, you could just put the yolk in a bowl and spoon out a bit 2 or 4 times a day?
    Glad to know she’s not stashing her food – that is always a worry with raw fed ferrets 🙂
    Re the liver – I haven’t given my jills pig liver in the past because there was always a worry about parasites in a pig which ended up in their liver. I only gave them beef liver but I think these days pig husbandry has been cleaned up so their livers should be fine, as would be lamb livers.
    Re your jill’s weight loss – could it be because of worms? Perhaps you could ask your vet about that as I don’t think it’d be good to give a nursing jill worming medication 🙁
    And about vets … last year I finally organised my UK vets page so it should be pretty up-to-date! Perhaps you could find a ferret vet nearby if you checked it out?

    http://www.all-about-ferrets.com/ferret-vets-uk.html

    Please do keep in touch – I would love to know how she and her kits are getting on!
    Again, I salute you for being such a kind person to take her in and for looking after her so well! Thank you 🙂

  27. Hello, I bought two ferrets last night. We’d researched ferrets for weeks and decided we were finally ready to get one. A lady was selling two, a male and female, I know from reading ferret info that ferrets are better in pairs, and I could get one or both neutered, as we were never going to breed them. Anyway after an hour and a half drive and arriving at her house at 10.45pm (my kids in the car) she stated that she tried to get the male neutered but only one testicle had dropped so the vet couldn’t do it, then she announced the female had been in season so “could be pregnant”, had it not been so far away, late and the kids been excited I would have told her thanks but no thanks! Anyway, can the male impreginate the female with one testicle, and if so what’s the first signs of pregnancy? Also the female is quite skinny, and I can feel some bones, is this normal and if not what’s the best food to give her to fatten her up?

  28. Hi Rebecca
    I honestly don’t know if your male could have impregnated your jill with just one testicle! There is a English ferret breeder on my forum so I’ll ask him or, even better, ask him if he could reply to your question. He’d be in a far better position to answer as I stopped breeding back in 1996 😮
    If a jill is pregnant she’ll start getting all broody and will be keen to “prepare her nest”, so to speak. She’ll also get fatter but that could also apply to a jill who has a phantom pregnancy, so after 42-odd days, she’ll either produce a litter or lose all her fat and look like her old self.
    Re fattening up your jill – have you got a decent kibble for her to eat? This food chart shows which brands are the best for a ferret so if you’re not sure what to buy your babies, this will help …

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/tUNWoTJPH8hIwW-FHeY-tqg/htmlview?pli=1

    Another thing which would help is giving them a smoothie every day. Add an egg yolk (no white) to about 200ml no lactose milk and add a supplement to ensure they have the necessary vitamins and minerals. I have put my present smoothie recipe list on the What Do Ferrets Eat page.
    If they don’t like the smoothie (and some ferrets don’t), try Nupro. That can be made into a gravy-like consistency to add to your ferrets’ food. I haven’t tried this as we can’t get it in WOz 🙁

    http://www.nuprosupplements.com/ferret-formula.html

    Another reason your girl is so skinny could be because she has worms?! Have you noticed any worms in her poop by chance?
    Hope that’s been of some help!
    Big hugs to your new pair from their friends down under 🙂
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  29. Hi Rebecca, if she wasn’t brought out if season with a jill jab then he would have mated so it’s possible she is pregnant. The first signs of pregnancy is coming out if season and the jill nipples become slightly bigger, this happens within the first two weeks of pregnancy, around week four, she’ll start getting fat and by week five, you’ll be able to feel little lumps moving around in her, these are the kits. By this time you’ll need to separate her from the hob and give her a nest box with plenty of straw (not hay) and shredded paper bedding, about a week later (week six) she should deliver some nearly hairless, pinkies which look like long rat babies.

    And Nona, I’m not a he, I’m female lol XD

    Attached image:

  30. Oh FF – my sincere apologies! I wasn’t sure so assumed you were male 🙁
    My bad 🙁
    So much for the anonymity of the internet 😀
    Thanks so much for helping Rebecca … much appreciated 🙂
    Cheers
    ~Nona

    Attached image:

  31. Hello – Hugo and Isabel have just become parents to 6 babies. Unfortunately, 1 day later, two of the babies have died and now today, 4 days later, another one has died. Someone help us as we do not know what to do. We took Isabel and babies to the vet on the day of her giving birth and the vet gave us some milk powder thing to mix up if the babies were not feeding properly. Isabel has become vicious when approaching her cage with the babies and she does not seem interested in her babies. She is not eating the way that she did. Anyone got any advice as to what could be the cause of the deaths. Was this our fault because we did not realise she was pregnant and removed Hugo from her on the day that she was giving birth? I hope not

  32. Hi Marlene
    Some jills just do not make good mothers and will ignore their babies and it sounds like Isabel is one of those jills 🙁 And, unfortunately, some jills get really antsy if their owners want to go into their cage to check their babies or change the bedding 🙁
    How has she gone with the 3 kits left over? I hope the babies are doing okay.
    I haven’t bred for 20 years so am not the best person to talk to you about Isabel’s behaviour but there is a very valuable member of my forum who’s an English ferret breeder so I’ll ask her to come and try to help you out with any problems with your mother and babies!
    Hugs to Hugo and Isabel (if you can hold her!) from their friends down under 🙂
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  33. Hello Marlene,
    The aggression is normal for some jills with kits, like most animals, some can be over protective with their young and it’s best not to bother her at all if you can help it. If you’ve been checking the kits too often, it stresses the mother and that causes her to eat them the kits or not look after them so if they’re just slowly disappearing or just dying for no reason then that’s likely the reason, try checking them only once a day to minimise Isabel’s stress levels and she’ll likely start paying more attention to mothering her kits. Isabel is likely not eating properly for the same reason unless she’s eating more which is what she should be doing.
    With Hugo, you can either keep him away from the kits (probably the best option at the moment) or you can try and put him back in with her, some hobs do help raise the kits though most won’t.

  34. Very interesting reading. I have a young rescue Jill that wandered into my garden, dispite much searching I was unable to find her owner so Binny ( so called because I found her near my bins )is here to stay. Took her to the vets and got a Jill jab. The vet thinks she is about 6months old. Had her for about 3 weeks now and she is getting a bit of a belly on her, its soft and I cant feel any babies, no nipples showing but I am getting a bit worried. How long would it take to be able to feel babies inside her if she was pregnant? ( please god not lol ) She is very sweet natured and not at all nippy.

  35. Hi Patti
    That’s so good of you to adopted Binny! I hope you will have many wonderful years with her 🙂
    Was she on heat when you took her for the jill jab? If she was then I doubt she could be pregnant. If she was an escaped ferret, she might have been on the loose for a few days and once you found her and started to give her good food, she might have put on weight which makes her belly look fuller than it did.
    My girls got very sooky when they were pregnant and they’d come along and yank hair out of my head to “feather their nest” so to speak! LOL! If you notice Binny doing something similar then you might end up being a grandmother (!!) 😮 However jills can often have phantom pregnancies so it could be that after 42-odd days of expecting kits, nothing happens and then they’ll go on heat again!
    So … to be honest I’m afraid I don’t know if your little girl is pregnant or not but fingers crossed she’s just putting on weight!
    I’ll ask an English breeder (Frolicking Ferrets) who’s a valued member of my forum to see if she can offer any other pointers or advice.
    Hugs to a very lucky Binny from her new friends down under 😀
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  36. Hello Patti,
    From the sounds of it, I wouldn’t say she’s pregnant as the first sign would be her nipples showing, if she was in season when you found her then she shouldn’t be as they come out of season 2 days after they’ve been mated….. If you are thinking that she’s pregnant then you’ll be able to feel very little marbles in her lower abdomen around week 5 of her pregnancy, if you want to get a determination, a ferret savvy vet can do an ultrasound on her for you.

  37. hi nona

    my 2 jills have had their kits nearly 2 weeks now.
    1 has just come into season again.
    what should I do to get her out of season but without affecting her or the babies and how she is rearing them.
    I don’t want to get her mated again because its obviously far too early for her to have a second litter when she’s only had the first litter for 2 weeks!!
    any help would be much appreciated

    many thanks

  38. Hi there
    I think the best thing to do is to take your girl who’s on heat to the vet to get a jill jab.
    You’re right … she mustn’t be mated again and if you take her to a vasectomised hob, the poor thing will just go through all the violent mating process which might end up hurting her.
    Hugs to your little ones from their new friends down under 🙂
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  39. hi nona

    thank you very much for the reply. very helpful.
    roughly how much is a jill jab from the vets??
    also will the jills come back into season this summer again??
    or will it not be until next year again??
    sorry to ask so many questions!!:)

    many thanks

  40. I found an article dated last year where it says: “Sometimes jills will need more than one such injection during a year, ie. if she comes back into season. These injections vary from about £5 to £10 per ferret per injection. Shop around vets to get the best price.”
    You might find it interesting to read …

    http://countrymansweekly.com/working-dog-and-ferret/jill-jab-vs-vasectomised-hob/

    Many years ago I had 3 jills and they all came into season FIVE times during our summer 😮
    I used to take them to a vasectomised hob but after that summer, I had them all sterilised as I felt terrible about my poor girls getting so bashed and bruised after seeing their Romeo so often!
    A lot of other ferret owners in our club had the same problem with their jills that year and no one knew why it was happening to our girls!
    I’m afraid I’m unable to say if your girl will come back into season this year or next – it all depends on her, or perhaps the vet will be able to advise you 😀
    Hope that helps 🙂

  41. Hi Nona

    I booked a jill jab up at our local vets and that day her vulva began to reduce in size again. its pretty much completely gone now so I cancelled the jill jab and am under the presumption that she just came out of season on her own. is this possible or has something else happened??

    sorry to be a pain 🙂

  42. Don’t be silly, you’re not a pain! Just a caring ferret owner who wants the best for their baby 😀
    It would seem that your girl has gone out of season by herself so that’s great. I personally haven’t experienced such a thing with my jills in the past but it could be that it was just a “blip” and it righted itself.
    There’s a lovely girl who breeds ferrets in the UK who is a member of my forum — I’ll ask her (Karla of Frolicking Ferrets) to share her opinion, so that you know if it’s a regular occurrence or not 🙂

  43. My first ferret did this a lot, never was a health issue but she brought herself out of season during the second half of the breeding season. Most ferrets can’t do it but a small few still have that polecat ability, Nancy has done it a couple of times.
    Polecats can and will come out of season on their own if they feel that it’s too late in the year for them to be having kits, some lucky small few ferrets like my first ferret, Nancy and your jill have kept this ability which isn’t a bad thing at all.

  44. Would it be ok to keep a jill that has kits and a jill that does not have kits in the same cage?

  45. Hi there 🙂
    If the two jills are friends then I can’t see any problems but obviously if you notice that the “mother” jill isn’t happy having the “aunt” jill around, then you should remove her.
    How old are the kits? If they’re very young then the mother might not be happy but if they’re 3-4 weeks old, then it should be okay.
    I’ll ask a breeder from the UK for her opinion – I haven’t bred for 20 years now so my knowledge about such things isn’t the best 🙂
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  46. ok thanks I wouldn’t want my ferrets hurting each other or kits.

  47. Hi, just found your site and am finding it really helpful. Also hoping you may be able to help me.

    I have just acquired a female ferret, she was found as a stray in a neighbours garden, she looked as if she had been in a fight with a cat as her eyelid was badly torn and her nose almost ripped off.

    I took her in, built her a cage and after a trip to the vets I was told that the old wounds she had on her neck were from mating.

    When I got her she was extremely skinny and under weight, all her bones could be felt under her skin. Two weeks have past and she is doing really well, her wounds have healed nicely and she has put on lots of weight.

    My question is, how would I know if she was pregnant, apart from getting bigger are there any other signs I could look for, I would like to be as prepared as I can.

    Appreciate any help or advice you can offer,
    kind regards
    Sue

  48. Hi Sue
    What a lucky girl that ferret is to have found you! Not many people would take in a wounded ferret which might, or might not, be pregnant so I tip my hat to you 😀
    Glad to hear she’s improving and putting on weight! There’s nothing like TLC to help get pets back to normal!
    It’s been ages since I bred so I hope my memory doesn’t let me down. However I’ll also ask a breeder on my forum to add her thoughts so that you get all the information you need in case your girl is pregnant 🙂
    I remember my girls being very sooky and pulling hairs out of their tails and then also out of my head. They also liked to fuss and rearrange their bedding as the big day got closer. Physical signs are that they get fat around their belly and their nipples get more prominent.
    The thing is that ferrets can also have phantom pregnancies — they have all the symptoms that pregnant ferrets have but at the end of 42-or so days, nothing happens 😮
    If you see her vulva pop out, then you’ll know that she’s in season and needs to be taken out again; however I don’t think that will happen until February/March next year. Although, having said that, another UK member of my forum said his jill came into season just a few weeks ago! One can’t have hard and fast rules for ferrets as they seem to break them all 😀
    Hugs to your little lady from her new buddies down under 🙂
    Cheers
    ~Nona

  49. Hiya Sue,
    Glad that you’ve taken her in rather than take her to a rescue, not always the best places for ferrets to end up.
    The signs of pregnancy in ferrets are:
    The vulva not completely unswelling after being in season, usually stays a tad puffy.
    The ferret’s nipple will be noticeable.
    She’ll start getting bigger and also start nesting.
    If you are in the UK, she shouldn’t be pregnant because it’s not breeding season anymore and the hobs aren’t in rut, it’s very rare for a jill to come in season during this time of the year.

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