Shedding season is upon us! You may have noticed that ferrets actually have two coats of fur (if you haven't noticed, simply ruffle your ferret's fur in the direction opposite, and you'll notice the thick, soft fur--usually a light or cream color.) This is the undercoat, and its purpose is to insulate the ferret. The hairs on the outside of this overcoat are the guard hairs, and they come in a multitude of colors and patterns that give each ferret its individual look. In the winter, ferrets shed their fur and grow in a lush winter coat to prepare them for the cold ahead. In the spring, ferrets will shed this winter coat and grow in a more summer-appropriate fur density. Brushing your ferret daily will help rid him of this excess hair, as well as help you bond with your buddy. It'll also help ensure that the hair ends up in the trash where it belongs instead of on the floor or inside your ferret's belly. That's because, unfortunately, your ferret's routine grooming can cause quite a bit of fur to end up in his digestive tract. For this reason, supplementing with a laxative product like Ferret Lax is a good idea during shedding season, just to help move things along.
Ferrets' shedding cycles are regulated by light, and for this reason ferrets that aren't exposed to natural light may have cycles that don't fit the usual spring to winter pattern, or may not shed at all. But this is not cause for concern. However, a dry or brittle coat may indicate that a ferret is not getting adequate nutrition. Ferrets must be fed a high-quality protein-packed diet, such at Marshall's Premium Ferret Diet or Carnivore Plus, in order to maintain a shiny, sleek coat and fur. If the ferret is not receiving enough nutrients, this will show in his coat. Supplements like Furo-Tone can help give ferrets those essential fatty acids for optimum coat health. While seasonal shedding is completely normal, sudden hair loss, especially hair loss that begins right at the base of the tail, could be an indication of illness. In this situation, it's best to get your ferret to the vet for a check-up to rule out any serious health problems.