Ferrets are engaging pets, with large personalities in little bodies. Keeping them in the best of health is a high priority for their owners. In many cases, this routine health care includes spaying or neutering the ferret. However, sometimes a ferret of unknown background or a breeding ferret can come into contact with other potential breeding ferrets, either intentionally or unintentionally, leading to pregnancy. Knowing the signs of a pregnancy helps an owner care for his ferret appropriately during this time.
Swelling of the vulva is a sign of being in heat and of recent mating. This sign can last through early pregnancy in ferrets and indicate your female ferret, known as a gill, is or has been recently fertile. This sign should not be ignored; an unspayed ferret in heat can develop severe health issues. Alternatively, and the swollen vulva may also be a sign of adrenal diseases.
Pregnant ferrets generally behave differently than they normally would. Monitor your ferret's behaviour pattern, particularly eating and sleeping. Sleeping more often than usual or displaying unusually aggressive behaviour are also signs of pregnancy. Pregnant gills also display an increase in their appetite and will eat every 15 minutes or so. If you suspect your ferret is pregnant, supply her with plenty of food.
Your ferret may also exhibit signs of nesting behaviour, such as pulling out her own fur and nest building, often using the pulled-out fur as bedding for the nest. At about four weeks gestation, a pregnant ferret begins to seclude herself and to build a nest for her kits' arrival. Ferret owners can help the process along by providing a nest box and clean bedding.
A pregnant jill's teats will swell in preparation for nursing her kits. Be gentle when you examine your ferret's teats for signs of swelling, as they may be sore.