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Descented ferret – yes or no?

Ferrets are smelly, they are famous for that. Their latin name ruffly means smelly little thief so we can’t say that it isn’t true, but if you are trying to find a reason not to get a ferret, look harder. When it comes to smell, ferrets aren’t worse than a cat or a dog. Actually, they smell less than most dog breeds. (because they are tiny :D) It is crazy to think that one animal doesn’t smell at all.

There is one practice that is common in America but it is illegal in most countries in Europe and that is descenting. Descenting is a surgery in which the vet removes your ferret’s anal sacs. This procedure is banned in many states in Europe because it is unnecessary and it won’t help with your ferret’s smell. I know when people hear ”descenting – removal of anal sacs” immediately assume that descented ferret will smell like rose or lily and that is not true. Your ferret’s smell won’t change due to this useless procedure.

Descented ferret won’t be different in any way. Ferrets are called smelly thieves because they steal stuff and they have a smell (they don’t stink) Those 2 things you can’t change in a ferret, that is part of their personality. 😀

Ferrets have 2 different ways of releasing the smell.

First: Their entire body is filled with tiny glands which secrete oils which make ferret smell the way it does. Those glands are the main and the only reason why your ferret smells like popcorn, honey, freshly mowed grain (almost every owner can smell something else in a ferret) and as you can see, those aromas aren’t bad. Ok, those aromas are when ferrets are very small and that changes as ferret grows. An adult ferret smells musky and most ferret owners love that smell or are completely unaware of it. Can you imagine that a pet which weights max 2 kilos smells that bad that you can’t take it? 😀

People can regulate ferret’s smell but it has nothing to do with a descented ferret. The smell from tiny glands is hormone related, that is why ferrets who aren’t fixed have a stronger odor. As you can see, to reduce your ferret’s smell you can spay or neuter it, you don’t have to descent it because it won’t change anything. When you spay or neuter a ferret his hormone level drops which lead to reducing the smell.  Also, you can keep your ferret and his cage alongside all stuff inside clean. Just don’t bathe your ferret more than 3 times a year because you will make his smell worse because you will wash off his oil.

Frida & Yoda scentSecond: Now, we will talk about a descented ferret. Like I said, descenting is a procedure to remove anal sacs in a ferret. Anal sacs aren’t the reason why your ferret has that smell. Ferrets produce smell from anal sacs when they are frightened and you are getting rid of THAT smell with descenting ferret. When your ferret releases that ominous odor it disappears in few minutes. When his relative skunk does it, it stays a LONG time around it and it is a much stronger odor. Since ferrets are pets and they aren’t surrounded by danger or life threatening situations they rarely produce scent from anal sacs.

Now, the question for all you ferret owners who don’t have a descented ferret. How many times in life has your ferret released a smelly bomb? Mine two ferrets did it under 5 times and it was all from Frida who is almost 5 years old, Yoda has done it only once. 🙂 Frida attacked Yoda when they were introducing. Frida was harsh on Yoda first day and there were poop and smell. Since then, nothing. That is a common behavior. When ferrets have no threats in their life, they don’t have reason to release that smell. When your ferret is in new surrounding it is normal that he feels scared a little bit and there is a possibility of smelly bombs if you drop something and startle him. Other than that, your ferret shouldn’t use his anal sacs.

In America most ferret farms descent and neuter/spay their ferrets when they are young, before shipping them to pet shops so you don’t have much of a choice. If a ferret is descented too young it can have problems later in life. I don’t really know why they are descenting ferrets that young, why are they doing it in the first place because it really won’t make a difference. There are communities which refer to descenting as a form of mutilation. That isn’t far from the truth.

Just imagine one thing. You have a ferret and he unfortunately escapes. He is alone outside, he is cold and some predator attacks him, for example, fox. The only defense mechanism that your ferret has is in his anal sacs. This ability which he won’t use with you can save his life in some situation.

Descenting doesn’t mean your ferret won’t smell because that smell is from his skin, not his anal sacs. If you want to reduce his smell, bathe your ferret, regularly clean his cage and hammocks and feed him with good and quality food. Healthy ferret is a happy ferret without smelly bombs 😀

Descented or not, spayed/neutered or not, love your little fuzzy. Their smell isn’t something to worry about. For all you new ferret owners, descenting is something that can be avoided because there are many noninvasive solutions to reduce ferret’s smell, even though they aren’t that bad. 😀

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