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  • Author or Editor: Valerie W. Staton x
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Objective—To identify factors (eg, familiarity, sex, neutering status, and time of year) associated with aggression between domestic ferrets and test a method for reducing aggression when introducing ferrets.

Design—Prospective trial.

Animals—56 healthy domestic ferrets.

Procedure—To identify variables associated with aggression, pairs were placed in an enclosed area and observed. To test whether increasing familiarity would decrease aggression when introducing ferrets, pairs of ferrets were housed in separate cages next to each other or in separate rooms for 2 weeks prior to introduction.

Results—49 of 82 pairs of strangers fought, but 31 cage mate pairs did not. Time of year had no apparent effect. Pairs consisting of 2 neutered females or 2 sexually intact males were significantly more likely to fight than were pairs consisting of a neutered female and a sexually intact male. Pairs caged next to each other for 2 weeks prior to introduction were no less likely to fight than were control pairs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that familiarity, sex, and neutering status are important determinants of aggression between ferrets. If unfamiliar neutered ferrets are introduced, then pairing 2 males or a male and female would likely result in the lowest levels of aggression. However, neutered females and sexually intact males are not indiscriminately aggressive, as a neutered female can be paired with a sexually intact male without resulting in aggression. Caging ferrets next to each other for 2 weeks does not decrease aggression when the ferrets are introduced. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:1709–1712)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association