Aging a Ferret

It’s kind of hard to tell someone how to tell the age of a ferret. Once you’ve done it long enough, you have a good idea. What most of us use to tell the age is:

  • Teeth and gums – a young ferret will have white teeth and pink gums. At about two years old, it starts getting a little plaque on the teeth and possibly some redness in the gums. It progresses from there. If the teeth are really yellow, have a lot of tartar and/or the gums are really red, then we figure the ferret is at least five years old. (Bad teeth can also be from prior poor care or malnutrition.)
  • Fur – a young ferret’s coat is usually very full, soft and silky. It also has a strong color base. As a ferret ages, the ferret’s coat can get more coarse and thinner. The color starts getting lighter and grey in some ferrets. (A coarse and thin coat can also be from stress or malnutrition.)
  • Toenails – as a ferret ages, some of the toenails begin to flatten from top to bottom. (Flat toenails can also be from poor care or malnutrition.)
  • Activity – a young ferret usually has a lot of energy and is extremely active. The older a ferret gets, the less active it is or the more rest it needs between activities.
  • Eyes – a young ferret’s eyes are clear and bright. As the ferret ages, the ferret can get cataracts. Cataracts usually come on after four years of age, though they can come sooner.
  • Medical issues – most ferrets don’t get insulinoma until at least four years and often later. Adrenal disease normally shows up after four years as well, though it’s not uncommon to see it at three years. These conditions can show up in a young ferret too, though it’s uncommon.
  • Raised crooked joints / bones in the feet indicates arthritis, which would mean the ferret is older.