L. Vanessa Gruden
Posted: August 8, 2014, 3:40 p.m. EDT
Ferrets Spazz and Sai-Sai/© Courtesy David Parsons
Ferrets do best when lighting follows the natural cycles of the sun.
Q: I would like to know if my ferret needs to be in the dark for sleeping hours.
A: Many ferret veterinary experts believe ferrets should be kept in natural lighting, which means no electric lights after sundown or before sunrise. Why? The reproductive cycles of ferrets are tied into hours of daily sunlight. Even if they are spayed/neutered, their pineal gland sends reproductive hormones to the adrenal glands throughout their lives. Keeping them in "artificial summer” means there are "time to breed!” messages constantly being transmitted. Some researchers theorize this overstimulation of the adrenal glands contributes to the development of adrenal disease.
In temperate zones in Europe, the United Kingdom, and Australia, ferrets often live in naturally lit outdoor pens, and they seem to see less adrenal cancers. Optimally, your ferrets will get up to 12 hours of light in the summer and only 8 in the winter.
When your ferrets live indoors, this is hard to accommodate. If work keeps us away all day and we need light for playtime with our pets, what are the options?
My personal pets live in an enclosed heated/cooled sun porch, which has windows around three sides. After dark, lights in "their room” are only on when needed. They come into my lit living room evenings, but normally they rampage for a while, then go back — or crash under the coffee table — when tired.
See if you can find a naturally lit living space for your ferrets to spend most of their time and try to avoid leaving their lights on constantly after dark.
A research project done by City University in London reported that, like cats, ferrets can see in ultraviolet light, giving them good vision in the dark. So they don’t need light to get around. Will this eliminate adrenal disease? There’s no guarantee of that, but it will be more natural for your ferrets.
Like this article? Please share it, and check out:
One Ferret Health Issue You Can't Ignore Is Hair Loss
Another Option For Ferrets With Adrenal Gland Disease
Peek Into Your Ferret's Sleep Secrets
See all ferret behavior Q&As
See all ferret health Q&As