There are several ways to determine the sex of your ferret. This article takes stock of the different ways to do it.
The female ferret is smaller than the male
For ferrets, it is possible to get an idea of the sex of the animal based on its general appearance. They are indeed one of those animals which present some differences between the male and the female.
The male usually turns out bigger than the female. The first can reach 2 kg, when the weight of the female is only between 400 g and 1 kg. It is therefore a gap that goes from single to double, or even more! This distinction is therefore clearly visible.
However, some care must be taken with this visual estimate.
The ferret is certainly a very fast growing animal, but you still have to wait until it reaches its adult size for the evaluation to be conclusive. This size being reached at around 2 and a half months in the female and 3 and a half months in the male, it is necessary to settle on the most advanced age to get an idea.
At this stage of development, the ferret is still undergoing changes. Each fall, the body of the young ferret prepares for the winter. He will therefore still gain weight, which will be essentially fat, and which he will then lose. This is not trivial because it represents no less than 40% of additional weight. This evolution is the same whether the ferret is a male or a female. Be aware, however, that sterilized subjects tend to maintain their summer weight in the cold season.
These appearance considerations are of course only valid for ferrets. in fine fettle. We tell you the cases in which this does not work, simply because the ferret’s body is strained and does not develop fully:
In a poorly weaned ferret
At weaning age, around its 25th day of life, a ferret reaches a standard weight, regardless of its lineage and the number of siblings born at the same time. By switching to solid food, if this does not go optimally, the growth of the ferret observes a delay in weight gain which cannot be recovered. A male ferret should take between 140 and 160 g per week. It can therefore already weigh almost a kilo or more between its 70th and its 75th day of life. A female ferret takes less, between 130 and 150 g each week. Deviations of 10% less than these figures are acceptable, but from 30% and more, the animal should be considered as not doing well and in need of appropriate care.
In the “cul-de-range” ferret, that is to say the last born
He is the exception to what has just been said. It never reaches the standard weight; it is generally smaller than the others and maintains a difference in size with all the other members of the litter. It does not always survive and, if it does, it remains more fragile and can cause recurring health problems.
In a malnourished ferret
Some owners do not know (or refuse to admit) that the ferret is a strict carnivore and offers their animal food that is not adapted to its biological functioning, thus leading to poor development.
In a sick ferret
A sick animal often stops eating or the biological disorders it experiences are such that the body is marked. One of the most spectacular cases is that of unsterilized females who do not mate and who suffer from aplastic anemia. This disease affects the bone marrow. Ferrettes then suffer from anemia, are very tired, no longer eat, lose weight and their hair.
To put an end to the differences in physical appearance between the sexes, some breeders have observed that female ferrets have the sharper muzzle. You certainly have to have a lot of ferret experience to be able to judge.
Olfactory differences between the sexes
Uncastrated males are known to give off a strong odor. But the female also gives off a particular and fairly strong smell. Only a particularly developed olfactory sensitivity makes it possible to differentiate between the two sexes by this single criterion. Maybe you just have to be a ferret?
In addition, the sterilization of the ferret has the consequence of reducing the odor produced by the sebaceous glands, abolishing this distinction between the sexes.
The behavioral differences between male and female ferrets
Ferret specialists say that there is no real difference in behavior between a male and a female, whatever the criterion that is taken into account: aggressiveness, energy, appetite for play, for cuddles … It all depends on the character that each animal.
However, when the ferret is not sterilized, we can see a difference in behavior during the breeding season because the ferret will not do the same with its body.
In both sexes, the hair becomes fatter and the animal smells stronger. But during the heat, a female has the vulva which grows larger and becomes more cuddly than usual, while in period of rut, the male multiplies the urine markings, becomes more aggressive with other ferrets that he may be around, and tries to mate with anything that passes within range.
Identify the ferret’s genitals
You probably guessed it, the most reliable to identify the sex of a ferret is to observe its genitals. You should not be disgusted by what this can entail. In ferrets, this is easy to do and gives you the information you need, whether the ferret is young or sterilized.
You gently hold your ferret on its back and observe the distance between the genital organ and the anus: in the male, the penis is far from the anus and the testicles, while in the female, the vulva, a simple small slit is located in front of and near the anus.
The ferret’s penis is barely visible. If you have some difficulty seeing him, you can palpate the lower abdomen to feel his penile bone. In mature, non-castrated males, you can easily see the testicles, especially during rutting season as they get bigger.
Do not bother to look for the presence of pacifiers in the hair of the belly, because it is too random.