Male ferrets have a small penis that looks like (and is often referred to or even mistaken as) a “Belly Button” on their lower abdomen.
Neutered males, called Gibbs (or Jibs), will NOT have visible testicles.
Intact males, called Hobs, will have visible testicles by the time they are about 5-6 months of age.
Females do not have a penis. Notice the lack of a “Belly Button” in this picture.
Spayed, or altered females are known as Sprites. Intact females are known as Jills.
When a Jill comes into season, her vulva will become swollen.
If you notice your female has a swollen vulva she needs to be seen by a vet, regardless of whether or not she is spayed/altered!!!!
– In spayed females (Sprites), a swollen vulva is a sign of Adrenal Disease, which requires treatment.
– In intact females (Jills), a swollen vulva is a sign that she is in season, and she needs to either be spayed chemically (via the Deslorelin implant, called chemical castration) or given a hormone injection referred to as the “Jill Jab” to bring her out of season. Once she is out of season, she can later be scheduled for a surgical spay if you so desire. If you do not surgically spay her, you will need to repeat the Jill-Jab every time she comes into heat, or redo the implant when it wears out. Note that it is common for Jills to enter heat multiple times a season if the Jill-Jab is the treatment of choice.
[Another option is to pair your female with a V-Hob, a male ferret who has been given a vasectomy and thus “shoots blanks” and cannot impregnate a female. Since a V-Hob retains his testicles, he retains his hormonal drive and will still mate with a female in heat. This method should be used by (or with the help of) a very experienced ferret owner or breeder only!]
Without immediate care, an in-season Jill can become severely anemic, eventually leading to death.
Absolutely do NOT breed your jill to bring her out of season!
Breeding is a very complicated and risky business that can endanger the life of your female, as well as risk the health of the potential kits without proper planning. If you are concerned about your female, please contact your vet immediately. We are also happy to offer support (but not medical advice!) on the Facebook Group.