What Is Descented Ferret & Why You Shouldn’t Encourage It?


Have you heard of a descented ferret?

It makes sense just by looking at the word that it has something to do with scent, but what really means to descent ferrets?

Here you can learn that! In this post, I will explain everything about descenting a ferret. Why people do that, what does this procedure do and, the most important one, should every ferret experience that? All answers you can read below so let’s get started!

descented ferret

What Means To Descent A Ferret?

Before I answer that question, I have to explain something else and that is ferret smell. Ferrets are smelly animals, that doesn’t mean they smell bad, it means they have a special strong smell for a pet. There are two ways a ferret produces smell, from their body and from their anal glands. You can read all about both types in detail in my post Do ferret smell? Today, I want to focus on the smell from anal glands. Anal glands are located below the tail, next to the ferret’s anus.

Dropping Smelly Bombs

Anal glands produce a pretty bad smell when the ferret is in danger. You can consider it as some sort of a defense mechanism. But, ferrets as pets don’t experience danger on a daily basis so that smell is pretty rare. You can say that a ferret “drops stink bombs” a few times in life. I won’t lie, that smell is not pleasant, but the good thing is that it doesn’t linger in the air for a long time.

Descenting a ferret means removing anal glands so you can permanently stop the ferret’s possibility to “drop stink bombs”. It is a surgical procedure, which means a ferret has to go on surgery and a veterinarian has to physically remove the glands from the ferret’s body. Just like every other surgery, after it, a ferret has a recovery period, removing stitches, etc. It is not a walk in the park.

Why People Descent A Ferret?

The only reason why people would consider descenting a ferret is actually not a valid one. People think that by doing that procedure, the ferret won’t smell anymore. But, the only thing that is achieved in that procedure is removing the “dropping stink bomb option” for a ferret. The smell on a ferret won’t change because the scent you can smell when having or holding a ferret is their body smell, a different type of smell produced all over their body. If you want to reduce your ferret’s smell, read my post on how to get minimize the ferret smell.

Two Descenting Practices

Descenting is not a common practice for every country in the world. It changes from country to country and here I will mention two opposite practices, divided by location. Yes, I am talking about North America and Europe. How are they handling the entire descented ferret question? Find out below!

North America Practice

One of the countries that are still doing the entire descent ferret procedure is the United States of America. Now, I don’t mean every ferret breeder in the USA does it, but it is the most common procedure there. Most big ferret farms are descenting and fixing ferrets when they are still young. That means the moment ferrets are in pet shops, they are already descented and fixed. It is crazy to descent and to fix a ferret at such a young age so there aren’t many surprises when a ferret has health problems later in life.

descented ferret veterinarian practice

European Practice

European countries have a different practice. Actually, in most European countries it is illegal to descent a ferret because this procedure actually doesn’t do anything. It won’t help a ferret, it won’t change its way of living, it only removes its natural defense mechanism. Their policy is that this type of unnecessary procedure is not worth their time and animal’s pain.

Is Defense Mechanism Important?

Just imagine one thing. You have a ferret and he unfortunately escapes. Your ferret is alone outside, in cold and some predator attacks him, for example, fox. Now, a ferret can fight a fox with its sharp teeth and agile body, but the chances of victory are slim. The only defense mechanism that your ferret has is in his anal sacs. This ability which he won’t use with you can save his life in some situations.


In my opinion, descenting a ferret shouldn’t be an option at tall. It is not something that will help a ferret at all or a ferret owner when it comes to their smell. It is something that can only make their health worse. It is saddening that we can’t stop that completely, but there are ways to fight against that practice. So, what can we do about descented ferrets? Show authorities what this procedure really does, stop buying ferrets from farms that do it and educate ourselves about ferrets, especially about ferret smell. What do you think about descenting? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section!

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Anja Delic
Anja is a Friendly Ferret owner and a ferret parent who is involved in the ferret world for more than 10 years. She started her Friendly Ferret blog when she got her first ferret Frida 8 years ago. In 2013, Friendly Ferret was recognized as a great source of information and it has become a good ferret brand for education, products, and fun. Since then, Anja was a part in many ferrets shows as a sponsor and as a judge, and she met many great and interesting people who share the same passion as her - ferrets. Anja is always opened for suggestions and advice, so if you have something to ask or say about ferrets, feel free to contact her on Instagram, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter or support@friendlyferret.com