Heat Periods in Ferrets


Female ferrets are termed “seasonally polyestrus”. This means that they can come into season more than once during the breeding season, which usually starts in early spring. For those of you in the northern hemisphere that would be around March, while for us Antipodeans it means about October.
You really can’t miss noticing if your female is on heat, as her vagina swells up and out so that it looks like a chickpea (garbanzo) under her tail.

swollen vulva

As stated earlier, she MUST be taken out of season otherwise she might die from aplastic anemia.

Full males usually come into rut a couple of months earlier. If you buy a full male, please understand that they can be incredibly smelly when they are in rut, and are also quite aggressive with other males.


I would suggest neutering when your boy reaches 6 months at the latest. You will be amazed at how affectionate and docile he will become afterwards, not to mention sweet smelling!

I would again stress that breeding ferrets is nothing like breeding dogs or cats. There is so much that can go wrong, for both the mother and the kits, so please don’t even entertain having a litter “just to see what it’s like”!


You can read more on Heat Periods in Ferrets here …

Lack of Sex in a Female Ferret Can Be Deadly! by Dr Susan Muller Esneault

Reproductive Medicine in Ferrets by Vladimir Jekl (Veterinary Clinic Jekl & Hauptman, Brno, Czech Republic)

Spay Ferret (Long Beach Animal Hospital – has pretty graphic photos of the actual operation)

Veterinary Advice Online – Ferret Sexing



If you don’t have a ferret savvy vet, this pdf might be good to print out and show him should you be concerned that your jill is suffering from being in heat for too long. Download it HERE.


For those of you who would like to read what scientists thought in 1904 of a jill’s estrous cycle, you can download the pdf HERE.



(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.

10 thoughts on “Heat Periods in Ferrets”

  1. I have a female ferret and lately she has become very mean. Biting the male ferret and pulling out his fur she has even turned around and bite my boyfriend and drew blood. She never was like this before and nothing has changed with the way she is being treated

  2. Hi Donna … please look at your little girl’s bottom and see if it looks like she’s on heat! I’m just wondering if she *might* be suffering from adrenal problems?!
    Please see if she looks like she’s on heat because that’s one of the signs …


    If she looks like she has any of the symptoms listed then please take her to a ferret vet as an implant would help stabilise her mood!
    Other than that then I’m really sorry but have no idea why your girl would start being mean ?‍♀️
    Hope that’s been of some help!
    Hugs to your little lady from her new friends down under ?

  3. I have just bred my jill,, the swelling around her vulva, has decreased alot,, and there are small amounts of blood around it now,,, is this a common thing??

  4. Hi Jonjo
    Apologies for the late reply but we had quite a fierce storm at the beginning of the week and it knocked out our power for quite a while ?
    How is your jill now? Has the bleeding stopped? As you might know, ferret mating is horribly rough so I would imagine the blood on her vulva was because of that but obviously if she is still bleeding, then please take her to a ferret vet to be checked out.
    Also please make sure that there are no bites on her body which might turn into abscesses!
    Big hugs to your little girl from her new furry friends down under ❤️

  5. Hello, we have a Jill who we separated a while after breeding with our hob as she looks very pregnant, she wasn’t swollen anymore but noticed past couple days she isn’t looking as big on her belly and she is starting to swell again? Any advice? Many thanks ?

  6. Hi Shannon
    It’s been more than 20 years since I bred my jills so I don’t really think I’m qualified to give you a straight answer ?
    I know that jills can often get a phantom pregnancy and it seems that this is what happened to your girl. I guess if you really want to breed then you’d have to put her with your hob again but you know how rough the mating game is and there’s always a chance that the jill can get hurt from it, or get an abscess from being dragged around by the hob.
    The other solution would be to not breed her this time around and to take her to the vet for a jill jab!
    I would recommend that you contact a ferret club and ask them what they suggest. I take it you’re in the UK?
    This is a list I made up years ago so I honestly don’t know how up-to-date it is as I haven’t had time to update it …


    Hope that’s been of some help to you.

  7. Hello, my male ferret has started showing my weird behaviour in these last few minutes. He is just over 8 months old and hasn’t been neutered or anything. He seems like he is humping these toys he has, and he is making all kinds of dooking noises. I checked his genital to see if there’s a difference from what it was and there’s a small area that is red and looks like blood.
    I’m just wondering if this is normal behaviour and if this is something you can leave or something you have do something about? I don’t know much about heat and hormones in ferrets, so if someone could help me and inform me about this stuff, that’d be great!

  8. Hi Amber
    If a hob has come into rut, he really is quite disgusting. His balls would have dropped, he has a very strong odour, his coat is oily and he piddles on the ground then drags his stomach through it to mark his territory. Has your boy shown any of those signs or is he getting very smelly?
    When he’s like that then it would be good to take him to the vet for his “snip” or get a Suprelorin implant, which will bring him back to normal, so to speak, without the need for the “snip”.
    I’m afraid I have no idea what that area you described as red and looks like blood is. Your male hasn’t got a prolapsed rectum, has he?


    If that is what you thought was the red area with blood, then you’ll have to take him to a (ferret knowledgeable) vet to get fixed up!
    Hope that’s been of some help to you ❤

  9. Hi Lean
    I have heard that sterilised females can go into heat if they have adrenal problems ?‍♀️
    And I quote …
    “The most common symptom of adrenal disease is a symmetrical hair loss, usually starting at or near the base of the tail and progressing toward the head. If left untreated, affected ferrets can look nearly bald, and may have very dry, itchy skin. Despite being neutered or spayed, affected ferrets may return to sexual behaviors typical of an animal that is intact, and may develop aggression toward other ferrets or people. In some cases this behavioral change may be the only sign of adrenal disease. Females with adrenal disease may appear to be in heat, with an enlarged vulva.”


    I’d suggest you take your girl to a ferret vet asap to be checked out ❤
    Big hugs to your little one and good luck! ?

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