Aplastic Anemia in Female Ferrets


Aplastic anemia in unsterilized female ferrets (jills) refers to bone marrow suppression, resulting in a complete loss of red blood cells in the bone marrow.[wp_ad_camp_2]

If a jill comes into heat, she will stay in heat indefinitely and during this period, her estrogen levels will remain high and be very toxic to her bone marrow.

This can be fatal to your ferret  🙁

Some symptoms of aplastic anemia in jills to look out for are:

Severe anemia
Swollen vulva
Pale gums
Hair loss

There are 3 methods of getting a jill out of heat.

  • Mating her with a full male (if you want to breed)
  • Taking her to the vet for a “jill jab”
  • Mating her with a vasectomized male (to get her out of heat)

Breeding ferrets is not like breeding cats or dogs. Many things can go wrong during and after your jill’s pregnancy, so if you value your girl, please don’t consider using her to breed from.

Pseudo-pregnancies arise from taking your jill to a vasectomized hob and I have known jills to come back into season after going through that period. Of course, that means taking the jill back to the vasectomized hob and going through the whole mating process again. It seems pretty unfair to make your girl go through that again and again.

I have taken one jill to the vet for a jill jab. She was a discarded ferret and was so heavily in season that there was no way she would have been able to last out the mating game. It worked fine, but there have been stories of the injection not doing what it should.

The best thing to do for your girls is to get them sterilized and then you won’t have to worry!


When I was helping in Ferret Rescue back in the mid-90s, a ferret was found and the poor thing had obviously been in heat for a very long time. She was very lethargic and her gums were very pale from anemia.

I took her to the vet who immediately gave her an injection to get her out of heat. Fortunately it worked! She regained her energy levels and after a couple of months of TLC, we found a forever home for her 🙂

So, if you should find a ferret in the same situation, please don’t think you can’t do anything. Get her to the vet asap and hopefully, after getting her jill jab, she’ll be as right as rain as Cadbury (the name the ferret mentioned above’s new owner gave her) was ?

You can read more about Aplastic Anemia in Ferrets on the following sites …

Estrogen-induced bone marrow suppression (Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice)

Anemia in ferrets: Clinical case challenges (Proceedings) by Natalie Antinoff, DVM, DABVP

Ferrets – Reproductive Disease by Rick Axelson, DVM (VCA Animal Hospitals)

Overproduction of Estrogen in Ferrets (PetMD)

Hyperoestrogenism – Ferret (WikiVet)

Aplastic Anemia in Ferrets Symptoms and Treatments (Second opinion doctor)

Anemia In Ferrets – What Causes It And What Can Be Done by Ron Hines DVM PhD

The Anemic Ferret: Where To Go When the Answer Isn’t Obvious by Angela M Lennox, DVM, DABVP (Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic of Indianapolis)

Ferrets – Problems By Rick Axelson, DVM (VCA) (Scroll down to Aplastic anemia)



(Last updated November 2019)

DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this page is not meant to replace seeing a veterinarian if you think your ferret is ill. It’s only meant to supply general information on a particular illness which was obtained either from personal experience with my sick ferrets, or from books and/or the Internet.

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