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Question
Hello Jacquire,
My neutered) male ferret has been licking and nibbling on my (spayed) female ferret’s scruff area, between the shoulder blades. It has been happening several times a day- for over a month. His nibbling can last up to 10 minutes at a time.  It’s not hard enough to be mating, but gentle enough to be playful - but it’s pissing her off !  He does this when they are inside or outside of the cage, while she’s eating, trying to go to sleep, or when she’s just chilling.  She will hiss and get him to stop for a couple hours, but he will lick and nibble on her scruff / shoulder blades later that night.

I have separated them for 2 weeks at time by sending one of them to my daughter’s house. They have “play dates” every couple days for a couple of hours – but he will eventually start to licking and nibbling when they are together again.  (My daughter does not have any animals.)

They have been brother and sister for 4 years now - he is now   5 ˝ years old and she is 4 years old.  Both see a vet yearly and are in good health.  Any ideas why this could be happening and how to stop it?  Thank you for anything you can suggest.

P.S.  I'm glad you're back and hope you feel better.

Answer
Hi - Thanks so much for the good wishes...back surgery is nasty!!

Okay to your ferret:

Since he is over 5-years old, he probably has Adrenal Disease (tumors on adrenal gland).  You are at a difficult time, because he is "marginal" age-wise for a big surgery.  

If you DO NOT get the surgery, the tumors will continue to grow.  This, no doubt, is why he is mounting her...he doesn't mean to be bad.  He does not even understand what is going on.
Often when ferrets have lived together, one or both of them will die if separated, so do try to reunite them.

You basically have 2 options to treat adrenal surgery....a temporary injection which is somewhat expensive and once you start, you must continue treatment till he dies.  He MUST have either the injections of "LUPRON", or his prostate gland will continue to swell, OR a permanent treatment option....SURGERY to remove the adrenal glands.

IF YOU GO THE SURGERY ROUTE:
1...get THE BEST, most experienced Exotics Specialist possible. Cost can be from $250 to $1,000.....not necessarily with the most experienced one being the best surgeon.  If you write me again, I can give you Shelters/Rescues in your area...they always know the best and cheapest vets :-)

2...have a full blood panel (blood test) before surgery to be ure his heart, liver, kidneys, etc are all healthy, otherwise you can lose him on the table.  No promise you won't anyway, but at least this option is permanent.

3...have the vet inject 50-100 cc of WARMED fluids into your ferret's system to help flush out the anesthetic....a good vet will do this anyway.

4...keep him nice and WARM after surgery, preferably wrapped in warm blanket, being rocked, kissed, spoiled, i.e., helps him want to live - this can be a HUGE thing.  Unless someone is at the vet's office all night to monitor pets, TAKE HIM HOME WITH YOU, keep him warm, sipping water and thinned out Hills A/D (with water & warmed, stir with finger so it's not too hot).  Get Hills A/D or Carnivore Care (unsure of exact name, but it is Carnivore something).  I always use Hills A/D.

5...Secrets are to get a head start on fluids before coming out of surgery, then keep WARM for 12-hours, then in hospital bed (no ramp or steps, use clean, frequently changed,  light colored blankies when you can't hold him as you need to watch for excessive bleeding) in a WARM AREA.  If he pants, he is TOO HOT.  A panting ferret is a dying ferret; they do not cool by tongue like dogs do.  Skip the Elizabethan Collar, have NEVER had a ferret chew at stitches, just keep him swaddled :-)  the E-collar drives them nuts.  You MUST speak up for your ferret....he can't speak for himself.  I have never lost a ferret after surgery by using these methods.

IF YOU GO THE LUPRON INJECTIONS:
1...it is expensive.  Must be repeated monthly BY VET,as IT MUST BE GIVEN IN A MUSCLE or it is wasted.  Even vets screw this up, so SPEAK UP BEFORE the injection is given....do something like asking "what muscle do you usually inject it in??"  If they don't reply "thigh", then take the Lupron and go elsewhere.  If you choose this route, write again & I will try to find the name of the Pharmacy I used.  They mail it to YOU, then you take to the vet with the ferret....i.e., avoids ridiculous cost od meds...vets DOUBLE the price if they get it for you!

2...Lupron is only a TEMPORARY FIX that MUST be repeated monthly....they will try to use the three month dose, but it still only works a month, save your money and his discomfort.

AND PLEASE..... Put them back in a common cage ASAP....or at least two cages with their sleeping areas butted up against each other when not playing, or let them out to play separately in a separate room so it doesn't tease the other ferret.  Many ferrets DIE just from being separated; sometimes one dies, sometimes both do; you can even let them play together with gentle redirection, and when not out playing, put two cages absolutely up against each other in the sleeping areas so they can feel close together and smell the comfort of each other, even if separated by cages.  She will want to comfort him a few days after surgery....supervise closely on your lap, but let her sniff, lick wound, etc.  Only worry IF he/she pills at stitches...and plenty of fluids for him...I used warm, watered down A/D dipping my finger in it, then let him lick it until he gets going licking from short bowl or plate on his own....do this at least 6 times per day as much as he will eat.  REFRIGERATE any unused A/D.

However....for about a week to 10-days after surgery, keep his baby blankrts a heavier weight and keep them separated, but again put two cages next to each other, just not quite so close first few days.  Re-introduce them slowly, carefully watching because he will smell different and be sure he does NOT climb, wrestle hard, etc....he is in recovery for several weeks.  They will work it out.  The GOOD NEWS IS THAT SURGERY IS PERMANENT AND HIS PROSTATE WON'T swell again, not to mention the Cancer spreading to other organs.  It can get pretty ugly.  the swollen prostate completely blocking his bladder CAN cause hid bladder to burst.  not good. You have caught him somewhat early, but you need to start doing research NOW, choosing vet, costs, etc.  in another 30 days or so, he will be in a lot of pain.   Take advantage of this time....think your options thru carefully.

FYI:  Normal, healthy ferrets usually live 6-1/2 to 7 years.....have heard of a few living to 12 or even 15!!  So, if his organs all check out well, if it were me,,I would go the surgery route.  Worst thing that can happen is he will die during surgery and never know what happened to him. I have had several adrenal ferrets (males!) with the same quandary you have, even the same age!!  If I had to do it again, I would get the best possible vet and go for surgery.

IF YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT AFFORD EITHER, please please consider putting him down. He will only feel worse and worse as time goes by...DO NOT LET YOUR VET USE THE "HEART STICK" method (they literally stick a needle thru their heart!!!   Instead, have vet inject a huge overdose (my vet uses same dose of anesthesia as you would for a 60-70 lb dog).  HOLD HIM swaddled in a blankie as he slowly gets sleepy, then falls asleep in your arms.  Not a pleasant thought, but SO MUCH BETTER than letting him suffer.

Hope all that helps!  Don't hesitate to write again if you need the pharmacy phone number (you need a x for Lupron from your vet, but they can call it in, then you call later and give your credit card # and it arrives at your door a few days later....it MUST be refrigerated at all times....put it in a tupperware bowl of ice to transport to and from vet :-)   

Hope that helps!!  My thoughts and prayers are with you and your precious baby.

Sincerely,
Jacquie

May God protect those precious little ones who cannot speak for themselves.





On Jul 6, 2013, at 12:49 PM, <experts@about.com> wrote:


There is a question waiting for you in the category of "Ferrets".

Subject: Male licking female's scruff

Question:
Hello Jacquire,
My neutered) male ferret has been licking and nibbling on my (spayed) female ferret’s scruff area, between the shoulder blades. It has been happening several times a day- for over a month. His nibbling can last up to 10 minutes at a time.  It’s not hard enough to be mating, but gentle enough to be playful - but it’s pissing her off !  He does this when they are inside or outside of the cage, while she’s eating, trying to go to sleep, or when she’s just chilling.  She will hiss and get him to stop for a couple hours, but he will lick and nibble on her scruff / shoulder blades later that night.

I have separated them for 2 weeks at time by sending one of them to my daughter’s house. They have “play dates” every couple days for a couple of hours – but he will eventually start to licking and nibbling when they are together again.  (My daughter does not have any animals.)

They have been brother and sister for 4 years now - he is now   5 ˝ years old and she is 4 years old.  Both see a vet yearly and are in good health.  Any ideas why this could be happening and how to stop it?  Thank you for anything you can suggest.

P.S.  I'm glad you're back and hope you feel better.

Please go to http://www.allexperts.com/expertx.cgi?m=11&expID=71769&qID=5054061 to answer the question.

Thanks for generously volunteering your time to help others.

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Jacquie Rodgers

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PLEASE READ ALL BEFORE ASKING QUESTIONS... WHAT I CAN DO: Being a ferret owner for 20 years, I can answer questions re: general care, cage ideas & requirements, healthy foods and snacks, safety issues, ferretproofing play areas, common causes of intestinal blockages, appropriate housing, litterbox training, making bathtime fun, toys, games galore, outdoor trips, "Do`s and Don'ts, traveling w/ferrets by car or RV, safe environmental temperatures & keeping your ferret cool in summer (NOT A FAN!!), setting up a hospital cage, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), helicobacter (ulcers), adrenal disease symptoms & care,intestinal blockages, helping your ferret recover quickly/safely from surgery; common problems of ferret ownership, illnesses; care of sick or injured ferrets, hospice/palliative care, facing & coping with your ferret's death, choices that must be made when a ferret dies, memorializing your pet online and in your daily life. #1 TIP: FIND AN EXOTICS VET BEFORE YOU GET A VET...IF YOU WAIT, YOU MAY FIND YOU HAVE TO DRIVE UP TO 6-HRS TO GET TO A PROPER VET!..if you did not find one first, be WILLING to drive as far as possible for proper care. AND.... #2 TIP: FERRETS ARE EXPENSIVE TO FEED, HOUSE, VET & CARE FOR PROPERLY...IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD ONE/OR NOT READY TO SACRIFICE, PLEASE DON'T GET ONE!! A FERRET IS NOT LIKE HAVING A CAT OR DOG!! THEY REQUIRE MORE TIME, ENERGY, CARE AND MONEY to properly care for them. Prepare to spend up to $8,000-$10,000 OVER A FERRETS LIFETIME (6 to 8 years usually) FOR NECESSITIES & VET CARE. WHAT I CAN`T DO: I can`t take the place of your ferret vet; if your ferret appears sick,PLEASE have your ferret examined by a ferret vet .TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE FOR A SICK FERRET - PLEASE, IF IN DOUBT, GET THEM TO A VET! 24- hours of a ferret not eating/drinking may kill your ferret! NEVER FORCE FEED A SICK..he may choke. Sub-Q or IV fluids from your vet who is not eating WILL help save his life IF he gets it in time.

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I have nursed ferrets through many illnesses, an injury, and a variety of diseases over the years.Ferrets are so very delicate, yet incredibly strong-willed; a well-loved ferret will fight courageously to live if given proper medical care, close monitoring, and especially lots of TLC.& LOVE. A ferret can entertain for hours on end when they know they are the center of attention; and they can make even the grumpiest person laugh. They do require a LOT of time, love and daily care, but the love you give a ferret always comes back to you tenfold OR MORE!! I dedicate the time I spend helping others here to my precious little ones who have gone to the Rainbow Bridge. They taught me how to laugh, to love unconditionally....and how to live each & every day to its fullest, and for that I am forever grateful.

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Yuma County Humane Society THUNDERING FERRET PAWS Facebook Ferret Group: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/thundering.ferret.paws/ PLEASE JOIN US AND GET ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS AND LEARN FROM EXPERIENCED FERRET OWNERS!

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Yuma Daily Sun (local newspaper) recognition for being an outstanding ferret mom and having incredibly well-trained ferrets. I am currently working on book of ferret care to share my experience. JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/thundering.ferret.paws/ for faster answers to your questions and input from other experienced ferret owners. Lots of past questions answered on AllExperts.com that you can still reference by category. If you don't find your answer there, please submit it and I will be happy to help you :-)

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I read everything I can get my hands on regarding ferrets, I learn from my great Exotics Vet, and my own experience and interactions with other ferret owners. I am writing a book on ferret care (Great Need for a CORRECT one!) never rely on a ferret book OR a website when your ferret is sick. I can help with suggestions to use IN CONJUNCTION with proper care by your exotics specialist vet (ASK when you call for an appointment whether or NOT your vet has EXPERIENCE in working with EXOTICS..if not, move on and continue to seek one. The wrong vet can KILL your ferret. I learned this early when my ferret hurt his front paw jumping off the couch...a vet, NOT EXOTICS SPECIALIST couln't handle ferret properly because he was afraid of the ferret...and ended up xraying THE WRONGBARM, telling me it was not hurt. I took xray & ferret to EXOTICS SPECIALIST VET 3-hrs away & found out the arm WAS BROKEN & wrong arm had been xrayed. THAT is how important it is to have a PROPERLY TRAINED VET FOR YOUR FERRET!

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WANT TO BE A FERRET EXPERT? I serve as the resident "guru" for this category. IF YOU WISH TO VOLUNTEER IN THE FERRET CATEGORY, please email me at thunder.paw.ranch@gmail.com and request an application. All volunteers must complete a general ferret information questionaire to be a volunteer in this category. Thanks for your cooperation :-)

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I try to educate anyone who is interested in ferrets, as I take my ferrets with me in public a lot. There is a lot of MISinformation out there about ferrets that needs to be dispelled with fact, and ferret owners who need to be keep abreast of the latest and best information. FACEBOOK FERRET GROUP (OPEN): THUNDERING FERRET PAWS - Join us as we all share our pictures, stories & experience!! :-)

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