New Scientific Evidence Finally Determines the Cause of Ferret Tumor Syndrome.
I worked with Colorado State University some 14-15 years ago on one of the first studies regarding Ferret Tumor Syndrome (also now known as Endocrine Disorder, Adrenal Disease, Insulinoma) and conducted 12 years of studies and analysis with my own ferret rescue all in an effort to try to find the cause of the 90% tumor rate in domestic ferrets. Finally, about 5-6 years ago, enough information was gathered, and enough study and analysis conducted, for researchers to finally determine the cause of the high incidence of adrenal tumors and insulinomas in pet ferrets. The sad but conclusive evidence points to the fact that ferrets should have never been domesticated in the first place.
I had a ferret rescue for over 12 years because I fell in love with these wonderful furry faces from the first time I met one, and after one of my first three ferrets developed tumors at only 3 1/2 years old, I was determined to find out why so something could be done about it.
Ferrets are highly intelligent (some say every bit as intelligent as dogs and I would agree), can be trained like a dog or cat and are just adorable to have around; so of course, people would want them as pets. However, the love affair of having ferrets as pets has been dropping off dramatically over the years as word got around about how sickly they are and the anguish suffered by their owners when these lovable little creatures would get sick and die at only half their life expectancy. Now that word is getting out that the reason for it all is something that cannot be avoided as long as they are being bred and sold as pets and therefore have to be spayed or neutered, the demand for pet ferrets has drastically reduced. Most pet stores have stopped carrying ferrets altogether so finding one for a pet is getting very difficult; and in some areas, is now impossible.
Ferrets have a very delicate and intricate reproductive system, and studies have determined that having them spayed and neutered so they can be sold on the pet market is the cause of all their tumors and hormone-related health complications. This is very sad news for ferret lovers, as this means that ferrets cannot be kept as pets. Keeping them intact and not having them spayed or neutered is not a viable answer for most owners either because a ferret’s reproductive system is such that if they are not bred, the females can develop aplastic anemia caused by too much circulating estrogen and die.
There are very few ferret breeders anymore, and the big commercial ferret mills like Marshall Farms, spay and neuter all of their ferrets for resale before they are 6 weeks old so they can get them into the pet stores while they are still cute and cuddly and easier to sell. If Marshall Farms cared about ferrets at all, they would stop the practice of breeding ferrets and selling them for pets, because as recent studies now indicate, these ferrets will only get sick and die before they reach 3-4 years of age, which is only half of their normal life expectancy. It’s not only cruel and unethical to keep breeding and selling animals you know will only get sick and die before they are middle-aged, but it’s also costly and heartbreaking for the ferret owners who fall in love with these wonderful, happy companions. Marshall Farms should be banned from continuing to breed ferrets on the grounds of animal and pet owner cruelty; after all, how can you continue to knowingly sell sick animals to caring people in good conscience or any conscience at all? Yet Marshall Farms, the largest ferret breeder in the U.S, still continues to pump out sickly animals for unsuspecting animal lovers to purchase. If that wasn’t bad enough, Marshall Farms breeds ferrets and dogs specifically to be tested on and suffer horrible atrocities at the hands of lab experiments for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies.
Marshall has been criticized by ferret lovers and animal rights groups over the years for having sick ferrets due to inbreeding, genetic issues, and the practice of spaying and neutering them at too early an age. Other criticisms are directed at the health care and living conditions of Marshall Farms’ pet mills. Some groups have accused large-scale breeders like Marshall of separating ferret kits from their mothers and sending them to pet stores too young; before they are fully weaned. Over the years, ferret purchasers have been warned to look for such signs in ferret kits when purchasing them from pet stores as diarrhea, lethargy, drainage or mucus coming from the eyes or nose, green colored feces, as common signs of a sick kit and to avoid purchasing animals with these symptoms. I have gone to pet stores in the past and seen ferret kits with these symptoms myself, so I know sick animals are in the pet stores and being purchased by people who don’t know any better.
The inhumane pet ferret industry starts with pet mills like Marshall Farms, but it doesn’t end there. Pet stores sell back to Marshall Farms older kits which are not sold after a certain amount of time and they are then euthanized. Due to this practice, as well as Marshall Farms’ expansion into the sale of ferret supplies, accessories, and merchandise, many ferret advocates protest their unethical conflict of interest. In essence, Marshall Farms breeds ferrets and then later kills the ones that don’t sell; animals are just a commodity to them, not a living, breathing creature that feels pain and suffering.
My big question to Marshall Farms and any other ferret mill is this: How can you knowingly sell people sick ferrets that have been proven in 90% of all cases to develop tumors and die well before their time, and still say you care about ferrets? The more I delved into the domestic ferret industry, the more it sickened me to my very core and I vowed to stop supporting the breeding of sick animals and the exploitation of unsuspecting future pet owners by purchasing or supporting the commercial pet industry in any way, shape, or form. Take it from someone who has witnessed the suffering of ferrets over many years: it may be difficult to give up on your hope of having a ferret as a pet because they are so darn cute, but it’s 10 times more difficult to fall in love with them and then watch them suffer the horrors inflicted on them by the commercial pet industry. If you love ferrets, don’t buy one! You are only supporting Marshall Farm’s and other pet mills, breeding of diseased and sick animals whose life expectancy is cut short by domesticating them, and subsidizing the suffering of millions of animals for no good reason except that you want one. Not to mention, you will only get your heart broken when your new fuzzy little friend gets sick and costs you thousands of dollars in vet bills only to die prematurely anyway because there is no cure or surgery to stop endocrine disorders in ferrets. Yes, this means the veterinary profession will also be taking advantage of you and your love for your pet when they start telling you they can surgically remove the tumors and your ferret will be fine. This is not true. In the majority of cases, surgery or medications may prolong your ferret’s life briefly, but the tumors will just recur or develop somewhere else in a matter of months.