What is "heat" in ferrets?
On your website you mentioned "heat" but never explained what it is . . do all ferrets go through this? Thanks.
Heat is when ferrets reach sexuall maturity (if they have not been spayed/ desexed).
In the jill this usually occurs at the 6 month mark (sometimes later). This is when the onset of estrus occurs (the heat period) which is closely associated with changing and lengthening of daylight hours.
Jills that are exposed to shorter day light hours will normally become late bloomers and go through heat at around the 12 month mark.
During heat (estrus) the jills vulva swells due to the increased female hormone estrogen. There also may be a clear or slightly discolored discharge.
Just like human females (don't hate me!)...a female ferret that is in heat may become very moody. She can also sleep less and cut down on her food intake (unlike human females). Inside her body...the lining of her uterus begins to swell and follicles containing eggs develop in the ovaries.
A female ferret stays in heat untill she gets pregnant...if her prince charming does not come along and "satisfy her needs", she could develop aplastic anemia and die... This is why if anyone does not intend to breed their female ferrets it is really important to desex/spay them!!!
In males sexual maturity occurs around the 3 month mark when their balls start to descend.
Their bodies start to produce more male hormone testosterone, which in turn can make their coates a yellowish colour. This usually occurs in the Sping-Summer months as ferrets are very tuned into the photoperiod.
This is when they may start to turn more aggressive and pester the female ferrets (because with the extra testosterone the females have suddenly become so much more attractive!!!). They will tease the girls, tug at their fur on the back of their necks (does this remind you of human puberty?), some might even start to do pelvic thrusting and hump various objects (typical males! Ha!).
When breeding season is over the males tend to calm down and chill out again.
Hope this has helped