Ferrets are a common and fun household pet, but much is unknown about them to the average owner. Questions about ferret hair growth are common, given a strong disposition of ferrets to lose their hair. While doing research into my own ferret’s hair loss, I came across a host of information about ferret hair loss and growth.
Will my ferret’s hair grow back? Most likely, yes. There are a host of different reasons as to why your ferret could have lost their hair, but it is likely to grow back in the fall.
Due to the wide variety of reasons why a ferret can lose its hair, it is best to do some research and get an idea of what could be happening.
What Does It Mean When A Ferret Loses Its Hair?
Ferrets commonly lose hair for a host of reasons. If the loss and growth of hair is seasonal, you most likely have nothing to worry about. However, there are some cases to look out for that could be related to the health of your ferret.
There are many reasons why a ferret could lose hair. Common causes include:
- Seasonal molting
- Ferret adrenal gland disease
- Rat tail
- Hormonal or nutritional imbalance
Truthfully, with how common hair loss is and the wide variety of reasons, it can be difficult to narrow down what it actually means for a ferret when it loses its hair. Diving into specifics of each reason is beneficial for learning what’s going on.
Seasonal molting is common across all ferrets and a perfectly normal occurrence. Essentially, ferrets shed some hair during spring to prepare for the warmer summer months, and grow hair during the fall to prepare for cold winters.
The average length of a seasonal molt is roughly 2 to 3 weeks but can vary depending on how much sunlight the ferret is getting.
In the wild, ferrets spend a significant amount of time burrowed underground or generally away from the sun. This can be wildly different in a home and cause the ferret’s hormones to go awry, pushing or shortening the time of a normal molt.
If your ferret has lost a lot of hair in the spring months, it is very likely to grow back to normal come fall.
Adrenal Gland Disease
Adrenal gland disease is highly common in ferrets, effecting most as they get older. Due to how common it is and the other side effects, this is the most likely cause for your ferret losing hair outside of a seasonal change.
If a ferret has adrenal gland disease, it is highly common for hair loss to start at the tail, then proceeding to the body. It is possible for this to make the ferret entirely hairless, though it rarely reaches that level.
Behavioral changes are also common when adrenal gland disease occurs. If your ferret suddenly starts acting strangely or out of character while losing hair, it is a good idea to get a veterinarian’s opinion.
While there is a significant amount of science and research behind this disease, understanding it in layman’s terms is fairly simple. Adrenal glands produce hormones in a ferret’s body. This disease causes those hormones to be overproduced for a variety of reasons.
Reasons for the disease occurring are numerous and a key role in how ubiquitous the disease is in ferrets. Three of the leading theories are:
- Genetic predisposition
- Spay and neuter practices
- Average light levels of the ferret’s home
All of these relate to hormone irregularity in the ferret, causing the disease.
Rat tail is the common name for an odd pattern of hair loss that can afflict ferrets where they lose all the hair on their tail only. The name comes from the tail, suddenly looking like a rats.
Rat tail appearing in ferrets tends to align with the seasonal molting mentioned earlier but can appear separately from it. Often, ferret tail hair will grow back with the next season.
The occurrence is harmless most of the time but can be an early sign of adrenal gland disease. If hair loss spreads past the tail, or rat tail is occurring out of season, consult a veterinarian.
Hormonal or Nutritional Imbalance
Hormones play a key role in the hair patterns of ferrets. While there are many factors that can determine a ferret’s hormones, one commonly overlooked cause of an imbalance is nutrition.
Ferrets require a diet high in proteins and fats. The weaker a ferret’s diet, the weaker their hair will be. If your ferret is receiving low-quality foods or not eating enough, changing its diet may help.
Generally, a good indicator of ferret health is the sheen of their coat. A ferret’s hair coat should feel thick and supple. If the hair is lost out of season, becomes brittle, or loses its sheen, another factor is most likely at play.
Parasites can be a common cause for minor hair loss in ferrets. These are creatures such as fleas or ear mites that can bother the ferret, causing it to scratch out its hair.
Parasites can often be treated with flea or mite products intended for cats, but consult a veterinarian before applying anything to your ferret.
Often, parasites are a fairly easy fix once they are noticed. Hair should grow back normally once the parasites, and by extension, the itching, are taken care of.
Is Hair Loss Normal For Ferrets
Hair loss is very normal in ferrets. Whether from seasonal molting or a highly common adrenal gland disease, most ferrets will see some form of hair loss in their lifetime.
Due to how common hair loss in ferrets is, you often have little to worry about when it happens. It is an expected part of life for these creatures. However, if you are worried about your ferret’s hair loss, consider these questions to determine if your ferret’s hair loss is normal or not:
- Is it spring?
- Has my ferret been acting strangely?
- How old is my ferret?
- Do they seem sickly otherwise?
If it is springtime, all ferrets will lose some or even all their hair during a seasonal molt. If your ferret has been acting strangely, is old, or seems otherwise sickly, it may be best to get them checked out.
Most often, a ferret’s hair loss will grow back during the fall, as that is when they have increased hair production. While it is possible to see growth in other seasons, it will be much slower and possibly not noticeable.
Old Ferret Losing Hair
An old ferret losing hair is a common occurrence, though it is often a sign that they have contracted adrenal gland disease.
Adrenal gland disease is incredibly common in ferrets, and the chances of a ferret developing the condition only go up with age. This causes hair loss that can quickly spread through the body.
Due to how common the development of the disease is in older ferrets, treatment is normally easily available.
If your ferret is losing hair as it ages and does not have adrenal gland disease, it is most likely due simply to age. Hair grows at a slower rate, and often weaker, as animals age. In a case such as this, it is highly likely that your ferret will grow back most of its hair when the season comes.
Do Ferrets Lose Their Hair As They Age?
Technically, no, ferrets do not lose hair as they age. However, due to common health issues that arise as they get older, it can seem like they do.
As ferrets age, they are more likely to develop diseases, catch parasites, or lose nutritional balance. All of these things can lead to a ferret losing hair as it ages, despite the age itself not being an important factor.
To help keep your ferret healthy, and keep its hair, be sure to develop strong care routines when they are young. This way, the ferret will be used to any care that needs to happen as it ages. In addition, taking proper care of your aging ferret will make its coat of hair stronger and better.