Do Ferrets Shed? – Why It Happens, For How Long, And Do They Need Brushing? Your Questions Answered

Some ferrets have a very thick and long coat most of the year, while others have very thin coats and short hair. More than that, ferrets that are kept outdoors change their coat throughout the year and it remains short and silky during summer, but during winter they grow an extra layer to keep them warm.

Ferret shedding
Photo by Steve Tsang on Unsplash

Grooming a ferret’s coat depends on how often and how much they shed. Some ferrets shed once or twice a year, while others shed throughout the whole year. In this article, we’ll talk about a ferret’s coat grooming needs.

Do ferrets shed?

If you think you should get a ferret as a pet because you’re tired of having dogs and cats that shed, you should keep in mind that only a few ferrets have minimum grooming needs. There are some rare cases where the ferret barely sheds and you only need to brush them to keep their coat untangled. But most ferrets shed and some can shed more than you can imagine.

Ferrets have two coats that help keep them both warm and essentially waterproof. The undercoat is very soft and incredibly dense. This acts like insulation and the ferret is able to play in the snow for hours without getting too cold. The topcoat is typically longer and the thicker guard hairs help repel dirt and keep them dry.

Generally, ferrets shed two times per year, which is once in the spring and once in the fall. But there are also exceptions where some ferrets have a season of heavy shedding somewhere in spring or fall or shed constantly but lightly throughout the year. Whatever the case is, you should expect to deal with shedding and get ready for daily or weekly grooming.

How long do ferrets shed for?

If the ferret has a shedding season instead of lightly shedding throughout the year, they typically only shed for a specific amount of time. This means that you don’t have to worry about having to spend numerous months at a time dealing with hair flying all over the house. They’ll keep shedding a lot twice or once a year and that’s it. It’s recommended to use old clothes while playing with them while they shed.

Ferrets that shed twice a year will shade two or three weeks in the spring and almost a month in the fall. The amount that they shed also depends on whether you’re keeping them indoors or outdoors. Ferrets that are kept indoors have thinner coats and when the shedding season comes there won’t be an overwhelming amount of hair to deal with.

On the other hand, ferrets that are kept outdoors tend to have much thicker coats, especially during winter. This means spring shedding can require a bit of grooming work. But the heaviest shedders are the ferrets that only shed once a year. If they only change their coat once a year, it will probably take more than a month and you will have to deal with an abnormal amount of hair, especially if the ferret is kept outdoors.

Why is my ferrets hair falling out?

If your ferrets start losing hair at a random time in the year, and they’re seasonal shedders, they might be dealing with a health problem. There’s no need to panic as hair loss is a very common problem among captive ferrets and you can easily solve it by going to the vet, finding out what condition your ferret has, and how to treat it.

Ferrets that are not neutered will shed a lot during the breeding season as well. This condition is related to elevated sex hormones and it happens for both males and females. If it’s the first time dealing with intact ferrets, there’s no need to worry about the heavy shedding while they’re in heat.

One of the most common causes of hair loss in ferrets is Ferret Adrenal Gland Disease. It’s a health problem that is so common that almost half of the adult ferrets end up having it. The adrenal glands start to overproduce sex hormones and androgens. This is when the ferret starts losing hair starting from its tail and it can go all the way to its head. But not all hair-loss patterns are the same.

Another cause of hair loss is called “Rat Tail” and it’s also one of the earliest signs of Adrenal Gland Disease. While they’re in heat, the intact ferrets will lose all the hair from their tail, which makes it look like the tail of a rat. The hair will return with the next seasonal shed so don’t worry too much about it. Just make sure to have it checked for Adrenal Gland Disease.

Ferrets can also lose patches of hair around their ears, neck, and rump area because of parasites. This is very easy to treat so take it to the vet and keep an eye on the ferret to make sure it doesn’t scratch itself any longer. Infection agents (ringworm, yeast, and bacterial infections) and a low-protein diet are also known to cause hair loss.

Do ferrets need to be brushed?

Black Sable Ferret
Source: Freeimages

During the shedding season, you will have to spend around 10-15 minutes a day brushing your ferret’s coat. This will help control the shedding a little bit and it will keep their coats untangled. You can use a brush made specifically for ferrets from an exotic pet store, but you can also use a simple brush made for grooming kittens.

But you should not expect that brushing a ferret’s coat is going to be a smooth job. They’re incredibly active animals and you need to be as fast as you can to get the job done. Use a bit of salmon oil or a treat they really like to keep them busy during the grooming process.

Are ferrets hypoallergenic?

Unlike other domestic animals, ferrets don’t shed dander, which means they are an excellent choice for people that are allergic to dander. They can be heavy shedders, while some rare cases barely shed throughout the year. This means that although they’re hypoallergenic, you might still have to deal with lots of brushing.