Just as I was getting all prepped up, busy planning my furry friend’s first birthday, I literally froze and frantically started searching everywhere for “Do ferrets change color”? Now, you may ask the reason for my weird behavior. So here is what happened…
I have a patchy sable ferret, but all of a sudden, his brown hair started fading into whitish silver color. And, I had all sorts of thoughts as to why this was happening.
So, I read and asked my vet, and I was relieved! This is totally normal and there is nothing wrong with my domestic ferret! But, glad I did my research, as sometimes a ferret changing color can also indicate a start of a disease.
So, if you have a ferret, go ahead and read about do ferrets change color, and save yourself from the stress that I had to go through.
Do Ferrets Change Color?
The answer to do ferrets change color is a big YES. And in most cases, there is nothing to worry about.
Most of the ferrets change their color when they shed. So, since ferrets shed twice a year, you can expect them to change their color twice a year.
Apart from this, several other factors like dietary change or an underlying illness can also cause changes in the ferret’s color.
Since ferrets are available in various colors, you can expect the effect of a color changing a bit differently on each of them.
Why Do Ferrets Change Color? Top 6 Reasons
Below are the main reasons why your ferret might be changing colors. While some of the reasons are normal, few can be alarming and require the immediate attention of a vet.
1. Changes Due to Aging
All the ferrets are born with grey fur, no matter what their real color is. So, if you are purchasing a new ferret, expect it to appear grey till the age of 5 to 6 weeks. After this, your ferret will slowly change its color to its original color, and by the time it is 12 weeks of age, the real color of the ferret will appear.
Hence, a kit will change its color till the time it becomes an adult and acquire its natural color.
The colors will again start changing as your ferret ages, from adulthood to midlife, and finally becomes an older ferret. The changing of color is determined by the color pattern of your ferret.
Let’s take a look at some common type of color changes due to aging:
Aging in Albino Ferrets
Albinos will always be albinos. They do not transform into any other color apart from white fur due to a gene mutation. Take a look at this study regarding the albino ferrets, also known as Mustela putorius furo.
Aging in Sable Ferrets
Dark hair colored ferrets like sables, black sables, and dark brown chocolate ferrets will turn grey and show the most dominant greying on their hind legs.
Depending upon the genetics, some ferrets tend to turn grey faster than others. While some ferrets turn totally grey.
Aging in Silver Ferrets
The effect of color change appears the most in silver and roan ferrets. As they age, some ferrets lose their silver fur and change their color to white, making them appear completely like a white ferret or dew ferret.
Sometimes, the silver ferret can also start sporting a salt and pepper look. Cool, isn’t it?
Shedding is probably the most common reason for ferrets to change their color. Ferrets usually shed twice a year, once during the spring, to prepare themselves and to cool themselves off for the summers.
And then during the fall, to protect themselves from the chilly winters.
During summer, your ferret will have a short and silky coat, while in winter, they will have a longer and fuller coat.
While they shed, a ferret’s body will secrete more oil, and hence the coat might appear yellow. This behavior is less noticeable in ferret colors like sables, dark grey, black and brown, as they have dark guard hair. But if observed closely, you might be able to see the yellowish golden color tone in their undercoat.
Hence, due to this shedding, you can expect your ferret to have different colors during winter and summer.
3. Dietary Changes
Diet not only plays an important role in the overall well being of your ferret, but it also affects the appearance of your ferret’s coat.
If you change your ferret’s diet from high quality ferret kibble to a raw diet including chicken, turkey, and eggs, the coat of the ferret will change its color from yellow to white.
But, feeding too much raw chicken can also cause the white guard hair of your ferret to turn yellow again. This is due to the high content of fat in raw chicken.
4. Hormonal Changes
Hormonal changes affect the ferret’s coat big time. This behavior is particularly seen in male ferrets.
As the hormone secretion increases in male ferrets, their hair and their undercoat will appear more oily and yellowish.
If you have an intact male ferret, then it will change its color during the breeding season.
5. Your Ferret Might Have Gone Deaf
A probable reason for your ferret changing color is that he might have gone deaf. This condition is known as Waardenburg’s Syndrome.
In this disease, your ferret will appear like a panda. He will have silver and grey color, with blue eye color and white paws. Your panda ferret will have a very typical white stripe on its head.
If you see color changes as described above, you should immediately consult a vet. The vet will probably get a hearing test done for your furry friend.
6. Adrenal Disease
One possible reason for your ferret changing color is because of Adrenal gland disease. This can cause your ferret’s coat to appear yellowish orange in color.
Your ferret’s body will produce excessive sebum due to hormonal imbalance while suffering from an adrenal disease. Hence, this causes the ferret’s skin to appear yellow or orange.
Top 4 Reasons to Worry When Your Ferret’s Color Changes
1. Unusual Behavior
While coat color change is normal in ferrets, if you feel that your ferret is showing unusual behavior like not eating well, or showing aggressive behavior, or in general it appears sick, you should consult a vet.
An underlying hormonal imbalance might be causing the color change in your ferret.
2. The Appearance of Red Color on Your Ferret’s Skin
If you find that red colored patches are appearing on your ferret’s skin, you should immediately consult your vet.
This can be a sign of Ringworm, caused due to fungal infection. Ringworm can cause your ferret’s skin to appear dry, thick with patches of red color.
3. The Appearance of a Yellowish Color on Your Ferret’s Skin
If your ferret’s SKIN appears yellowish in color, it can be a sign of jaundice, which can cause liver damage in your ferret.
If your ferret’s skin appears orangish to yellowish, this might point to a possibility of Adrenal diseases in your ferret.
4. The Appearance of Silver, Grey, and White Color on Your Ferret’s Coat
If you see the appearance of a grey and white colored coat, along with white paws, blue eyes, and a peculiar white stripe on your ferret’s head, it might indicate Waardenburg’s Syndrome, which causes deafness in ferrets.
Why Is My Ferret Turning Orange?
Some ferrets originally have an orangish tint in their fur. This is totally normal. However, if your ferret, who originally is of some other color, starts turning orange, then it indicates that he might be suffering from an Adrenal disease.
If you closely observe, the ferret’s skin will be turning orange. Adrenal gland diseases cause a hormonal imbalance which can cause an overproduction of sebum.
Sebum is also responsible for making your ferret’s skin appear oilier than usual and will cause the ferret to stink more.
Adrenal gland diseases are more common in intact ferrets than neutered and spayed ferrets.
Why Is My Ferret Turning Yellow?
Adrenal gland disease can cause the ferret to turn orangish yellow.
Apart from that, the hormonal imbalance caused in intact male or female ferrets during the mating season can also cause the ferret to turn yellow.
If you see your entire ferret’s body appearing yellow rapidly, then it can also be a sign of jaundice. Hence, a visit to the vet is recommended as this can damage your ferret’s liver.
Why Is My Ferret Turning Grey?
Newborn ferrets will appear grey till they are 5 to 6 weeks old. After that, they will shed the grey coat to get their original color. If your ferret is turning grey, there are two possible reasons:
- If your ferret’s original color is sable, dark sable, or dark chocolate, then your ferret turning grey is simply a sign of aging. In this case, the color changes appear on the entire ferret, with the hind leg having the most prominent grey color.
- If your ferret shows stripes of grey and white, similar to a panda, with blue eyes and white paws, then he may be suffering from Waardenburg’s Syndrome. This causes deafness in ferrets. Hence, you should immediately consult a vet.
Why Is My Ferret Turning White?
There can be two possible reasons for your ferret turning white:
- If your silver or roan colored ferret starts turning white, it indicates that the aging process has started in your ferret.
- If you make a major change in your ferret’s diet, replacing the kibble with raw diet meat, including chicken, eggs, and turkey, your ferret’s coat will change its color to white.
Why Is My Ferret’s Tail Turning Black?
If you see your ferret’s tail turning yellow, and completely normal behavior, it simply means that due to the secretion of oil from your ferret’s body, blackheads are forming and they appear on the tail. This is a common thing reported by many ferret owners.
However, if you see that your ferret is behaving differently, becomes lethargic, and starts losing its hair from the tail, you should visit a veterinarian as this can be a sign of Adrenal disease.
How to Take Care of Your Ferret’s Coat?
While changing the ferret’s coat color is a normal phenomenon, it is best to take proper care of your ferret’s coat, to avoid excessive shedding. Below are few tips from our end.
1. Regularly Brushing Your Ferret’s Fur
You can use a soft grooming brush to brush your ferret’s fur. With quick and gentle strokes, evenly brush all the areas of the ferret’s fur. Check out this soft brush for your furry friend.
2. Provide Nutritious Food to Your Ferret
Diet plays an important role in your ferret’s coat quality. Ideally, your ferret’s diet should consist of 30 to 35% protein and 15 to 30% fat.
Avoid giving food high in sugar contents like fruits, vegetables, or bacon.
3. Add Taurine Supplement in Your Ferret’s Diet
Taurine supplements help in maintaining your ferret’s coat and healthy skin. There are a variety of multivitamins available with taurine supplements.
Take a look at this supplement rich in taurine.
4. Bathe Your Ferret
Bathe your ferret with proper ferret safe shampoo and warm water. Make sure that you rinse off all the shampoo and properly dry your ferret once the bathing session is completed.
You should not bathe your ferret frequently. Once in a month or 2 months is sufficient.
In conclusion, the answer to Do ferrets change color is a YES. While in most cases, the color change is normal, but there are few warning signs that you should never ignore.
If you find that your ferret is changing color, and also showing abnormal behavior, you should consult a vet. Appearances of red and yellow color on the ferret’s skin are also signs of underlying diseases that shouldn’t be overlooked.
So, carefully observe your ferret, and if your furball is a healthy ferret, simply marvel at the color changes of your pet ferret!