Castration of Ferrets (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information

Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords  
  • Generally, castration is performed at about 12 weeks of age - at the onset of puberty. (B631.23.w23); by 6-8 months. (B602.12.w12)
  • Some large producers of ferrets in the USA castrate ferrets at an early age. (B629.13.w13, B631.23.w23)
  • Anaesthetise the ferret.
  • Clip and aseptically prepare the surgical site. (B232.19.w19)

Castration of ferrets is performed basically as in cats. (B602.12.w12, B629.13.w13)

  • Incise the scrotum over each testis, as in cats. (B232.19.w19, B602.12.w12)
  • Castrate with an open or closed technique. (B232.19.w19, B602.12.w12)
    • Ligate the spermatic cord and the testicular vessels with absorbable suture material (B602.12.w12, B232.19.w19, J15.24.w5) 4-0 monofilament suture material. (B339.9.w9)
      • "Self-tying"  the vas deferens to the testicular blood vessels is not recommended due to the fragility of the tissues. (B232.19.w19, J15.24.w5)
  • Leave the incisions to heal by secondary intention. (B602.12.w12)


  • Push one testis into a suprascrotal position. (B232.19.w19, J15.24.w5)
  • Make a single prescrotal incision. (B232.19.w19, B602.12.w12, B631.23.w23, J15.24.w5) over this testis. 
  • Exteriorise first one then the other testis through this incision. (B602.12.w12, J15.24.w5)
  • Castrate as above. (B602.12.w12, J15.24.w5)
  • OR: Double-clamp the spermatic cord and ligate using 2.0 or 1.5 metric (3/0 or 4/0 USP) absorbable suture material or haemostatic clips. (B631.23.w23)
    • Ligate the spermatic cord tightly. (B232.19.w19)
  • Close the subcutaneous tissue using a 4-0 or 5-0 absorbable suture material. (B602.12.w12)
  • Close the skin incision either with an intradermal suture or with skin sutures. (B602.12.w12)
    • The skin incision may be closed or left open. (B631.23.w23)
  • Close the fascial layer with 1.5 metric polglactin 910 (coated Vicryl, Ethicon) and the skin with a subcuticular suture. (J15.24.w5)
Appropriate Use (?)
  • To reduce odour and dominant/aggressive behaviour. (B232.19.w19, B602.12.w12, B629.13.w13, B631.23.w23)
  • To prevent unwanted breeding. (B631.23.w23) 
  • To prevent development of testicular neoplasia (See Neoplasia in Ferrets). (B602.12.w12)
  • In the treatment of testicular neoplasia. (B232.19.w19)
  • A castrated male ferret is known as a hobble. (B232.19.w19, J15.24.w5)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • "Self-tying"  the vas deferens to the testicular blood vessels is not recommended, due to the fragility of the tissues. (B232.19.w19, J15.24.w5)
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Standard anaesthetic equipment

  • Surgical equipment.

  • Suture materials.

Expertise level / Ease of Use This is a surgical technique. This procedure should only be carried out by an individual with appropriate clinical training and practical experience.
Cost/ Availability

The costs of a surgical operation include those associated with: (J15.30.w1)

  • Pre-operative diagnostics (e.g. radiography, ultrasonography, blood tests)
  • Anaesthesia.
  • Perioperative medication (e.g. analgesics, antibiotics, fluids).
  • Surgical preparation (of the operating theatre and the patient, including staff time).
  • Consumables and equipment.
  • Time of the surgeon and assistant(s).
  • Post-operative hospitalisation.
Legal and Ethical Considerations In some countries there may be legislation restricting the use of this type of technique to licensed veterinarians. For example in the UK: "The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides, subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons may practice veterinary surgery." (See: LCofC1 - RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Treatment of Animals by Non-Veterinary Surgeons).
Author Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
References B232.19.w19, B339.9.w9, B602.12.w12, B629.13.w13, B631.23.w23, J15.24.w5

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