By Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
“Normal” — what a radical concept in today’s world. But Ferrets USA wants to know what is “normal” in ferrets. I have a grasp on the physical aspects of normal in this species, so we can certainly talk about that. Don’t ask me about what is normal for them mentally. My bet is that inside their heads is one crazy place.
Age Causes Change
The criteria for “normal” changes over time, yielding what veterinarians refer to as “normal aging changes.” For example, if you look at the pupil of a young ferret, it is pitch black, but the eyes of a 6- or 7-year-old hold a silvery milkiness. As ferrets age, the fibers in the lens become less transparent. It’s a “normal aging change” in an old ferret and nothing to get excited about, but if you see it in a youngster, it’s considered disease.
Normal also changes depending on what you are used to. Shelter moms and dads, the people with the world’s biggest hearts, spend their days with geriatric animals suffering chronic disease. Show them a couple of kits, and it’s likely they will stare in amazement — marveling at the nonstop energy of the young of the species, the lush haircoats and the normal stools. **For the full article, pick up the 2008 issue of Ferrets USA or click here to buy the issue.**