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Information Resources on the Care and Welfare of Ferrets

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Blackfooted Ferrets



Branvold, H.A., D.E. Biggins, and J.H. Wimsatt (2003). Photoperiod manipulation to increase the productivity of black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) and Siberian polecats (M. eversmanii). Zoo Biology 22(1): 1-14. ISSN: 0733-3188.
NAL Call Number: QL77.5.Z6
Descriptors: Mustela nigripes, Mustela, animal reproduction, endangered species, photoperiod, photoperiodism, lighting, breeding season, animal housing, artificial insemination, estrus, estrus synchronization, birth rate, females, males, animal breeding, Mustela eversmanii.

Burns, R., E.S. Williams, D. O'Toole, and J.P. Dubey (2003). Toxoplasma gondii infections in captive black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes), 1992-1998: Clinical signs, serology, pathology, and prevention. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 39(4): 787-797. ISSN: 0090-3558.
NAL Call Number: 41.9 W648
Abstract: An epizootic of toxoplasmosis occurred among 22 adult and 30 kit black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) maintained under quarantine conditions at the Louisville Zoological Garden (Louisville, Kentucky, USA) in June, 1992. Black-footed ferrets appear to be highly susceptible to acute and chronic toxoplasmosis. Clinical signs were observed in 19 adults and six kits and included anorexia, lethargy, corneal edema, and ataxia. Two adults and six kits died with acute disease. High antibody titers to Toxoplasma gondii were detected by latex agglutination and modified agglutination assay in 10 black-footed ferrets. One adult and six kits that died with acute clinical signs were necropsied and T. gondii-like organisms were found microscopically in multiple organs. Diagnosis of toxoplasmosis was confirmed by immunohistochemical staining with anti-T. gondii antibodies and by ultrastructural examination. Although the source of T. gondii for black-footed ferrets was not identified, frozen uncooked rabbit was the most likely source. Chronic toxoplasmosis resulted in the death of at additional 13 black-footed ferrets that were adults during the epizootic. Affected animals developed chronic progressive posterior weakness and posterior ataxia 6-69 mo after the epizootic began. Meningoencephalitis or meningoencephalomyelitis associated with chronic toxoplasmosis were identified at necropsy in all 13 ferrets. Precautions to prevent introduction of pathogens into the colony were insufficient to exclude T. gondii. Although toxoplasmosis may cause significant mortality in mustelids, the high mortality of black-footed ferrets in this epizootic was of concern due to their endangered status. This is the first detailed report of toxoplasmosis in black-footed ferrets.
Descriptors: ferrets, antibodies, blood protozoan, toxoplasmosis, agglutination tests, immunohistochemistry, Kentucky, latex fixation tests, liver parasitology.

Lair, S., I.K. Barker, K.G. Mehren, and E.S. Williams (2006). Renal Tubular-cell Neoplasms in Black-footed Ferrets (Mustela nigripes)-38 Cases. Veterinary Pathology 43(3): 276-280. ISSN: 0300-9858.
NAL Call Number: 41.8 P27
Abstract: Thirty-eight cases of renal tubular cell neoplasms were diagnosed in 184 captive, adult (>1-year-old), black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) examined from 1985 to 1996. This prevalence (20.7%) is one of the highest reported for this neoplasm in a population of animals. These tumors rarely metastasized (1/38), and usually were incidental postmortem findings, associated clinical disease being present in only 3 (8%) of the 38 cases. The prevalence of renal tubular cell neoplasms found at postmortem examination increased linearly with age, up to 67% in ferrets >8 years old. Both males (prevalence = 19%) and females (prevalence = 24%) were affected. Multiple renal tumors were common, and seven ferrets (18.4% of affected animals) had bilateral tumors. The cause of this neoplastic syndrome could not be determined. Since most of the animals affected by this condition were in their postreproductive years of life, the impact of this neoplastic syndrome on the captive propagation of this species is negligible.
Descriptors: Mustela nigripes, kidney diseases, neoplasms, animal age, disease prevalence, disease course, zoo animals, endangered species.

Lair, S., I.K. Barker, K.G. Mehren, and E.S. Williams (2002). Epidemiology of neoplasia in captive black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes), 1986-1996. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 33(3): 204-223. ISSN: 1042-7260.
NAL Call Number: SF601.J6
Abstract: The epidemiology of neoplastic disease was studied retrospectively in the captive population of black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes). Postmortem reports were reviewed and archived tissues examined from 184 of the 227 adult (>1 yr old) black-footed ferrets that died from the beginning of the current captive propagation program in late 1985 to the end of 1996. A total of 185 neoplasms, of 28 distinct phenotypes, were seen in 102 (55.4%) of these ferrets. There was more than one tumor type present in 51 ferrets. Tumors of the apocrine glands (28.3%), renal tubular neoplasms (20.7%), and biliary cystadenoma or carcinoma (20.1%) were the most common neoplasms. The probability of developing most types of neoplasms increased with age. Neoplasms of the apocrine glands were more common in males and may be hormonally influenced. The unusually high prevalence of biliary cystadenocarcinoma may be secondary to the common occurrence of intrahepatic biliary cysts in this population. Although neoplasia is an important cause of mortality in captive adult black-footed ferrets, its impact on captive propagation of the species, and on the wild population, is probably limited because clinically significant tumors are encountered almost exclusively in postreproductive ferrets (>3 yr old) and because ferrets released into their natural habitat rarely reach susceptible age.
Descriptors: blsckfooted ferrets, neoplasms, age distribution, logistic models, neoplasms classification and epidemiology, prevalence, retrospective studies, Wyoming, epidemiology.

Naples, V.L. (2005). Locomotor specializations in the hindlimb of the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes): Adaptation to a subterranean habitat. FASEB Journal 19(5, Suppl. S, Part 2): A1360. ISSN: 0892-6638.
Descriptors: Mustela nigripes, black-footed ferrets, muscular system, locomotor specializations in hindlimbs, environmental adaptation, tunnel system.
Notes: Experimental Biology 2005 Meeting/35th International Congress of Physiological Sciences, San Diego, CA, USA; March 31 -April 06, 2005.

Rocke, T.E., J. Mencher, S.R. Smith, A.M. Friedlander, G.P. Andrews, and L.A. Baeten (2004). Recombinant F1-V fusion protein protects black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) against virulent Yersinia pestis infection. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 35(2): 142-146. ISSN: 1042-7260.
NAL Call Number: SF601.J6
Descriptors: Mustela nigripes, black-footed ferrets, sylvatic plague, bacterial diseases, treatment techniques, recombinant protein vaccine, Yersinia pestis, vaccine challenges.

Rose, M., T. White, and G. Wadsworth (2002). Phylogenetics of ancestral and extant populations of black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes). AAAS Annual Meeting and Science Innovation Exposition 168: A97.
Descriptors: black-footed ferrets, phylogenetics, ancestral population, Mustela nigripes.
Notes: Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Boston, MA, USA; February 14-19, 2002.

Santymire, R.M., P.E. Marinari, J.S. Kreeger, D.E. Wildt, and J. Howard (2006). Sperm viability in the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) is influenced by seminal and medium osmolality. Cryobiology 53(1): 37-50. ISSN: 0011-2240.
Abstract: Fundamental knowledge of spermatozoa cryobiology can assist with optimizing cryopreservation protocols needed for genetic management of the endangered black-footed ferret. Objectives were to characterize semen osmolality and assess the influence of two media at various osmolalities on sperm viability. We examined the influence of Ham's F10 +Hepes medium (H) at 270, 400, 500 or 700 mOsm (adjusted with sucrose, a nonpermeating cryoprotectant) and TEST Yolk Buffer (TYB) with 0% (300 mOsm) versus 4% (900 mOsm) glycerol (a permeating cryoprotectant). Electroejaculates (n=16) were assessed for osmolality using a vapor pressure osmometer. For media comparison, semen (n=5) was collected in TYB 0%, split into six aliquots, and diluted in H270, H400, H500, H700, and TYB 0% or TYB 4%. Each sample was centrifuged (300 g, 8 min), resuspended in respective medium, and maintained at 37 degrees C for 3h. Sperm motility and forward progression were monitored every 30 min for 3h post-washing. Acrosomal integrity was monitored at 0 and 60 min post-washing. Results demonstrated that black-footed ferret semen has a comparatively high osmolality (mean+/-SEM, 513.1+/-32.6 mOsm; range, 366-791 mOsm). Ferret spermatozoa were sensitive to hyperosmotic stress. Specifically, sperm motility was more susceptible (P<0.01) to hyperosmotic conditions than acrosomal integrity, and neither were influenced (P>0.05) by hypotonic solutions. Exposure to TYB 4% glycerol retained more (P<0.01) sperm motility than a hyperosmotic Ham's (700 mOsm). These findings will guide the eventual development of assisted breeding with cryopreserved sperm contributing to genetic management of this rare species.
Descriptors: ferrets, cell survival, drug effects, physiology, semen, preservation methods, spermatozoa physiology, glucose, pharmacology, osmolar concentration, sperm motility, drug effects, spermatozoa cytology.

Santymire, R.M., P.E. Marinari, J.S. Kreeger, D.E. Wildt, and J.G. Howard (2004). Determining semen osmolality and effect of medium osmolality on sperm viability in the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes). Journal of Andrology(Suppl. S): 91. ISSN: 0196-3635.
Descriptors: black-footed ferret, reproduction, semen osmolality, medium osmolality, sperm viability, meeting abstract.
Notes: 29th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Andrology, Baltimore, MD, USA; April 17-20, 2004.

Wisely, S.M., S.W. Buskirk, and M.A. Fleming (2002). Genetic diversity and fitness in black-footed ferrets before and during a bottleneck. The Journal of Heredity 93(4): 231-237. ISSN: 0022-1503.
Abstract: The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) is an endangered North American carnivore that underwent a well-documented population bottleneck in the mid-1980s. To better understand the effects of a bottleneck on a free-ranging carnivore population, we used 24 microsatellite loci to compare genetic diversity before versus during the bottleneck, and compare the last wild population to two historical populations. We also compared genetic diversity in black-footed ferrets to that of two sibling species, the steppe polecat (Mustela eversmanni) and the European polecat (Mustela putorius). Black-footed ferrets during the bottleneck had less genetic diversity than steppe polecats. The three black-footed ferret populations were well differentiated (F(ST) = 0.57 [plus or minus] 0.15; mean [plus or minus] SE). We attributed the decrease in genetic diversity in black-footed ferrets to localized extinction of these genetically distinct subpopulations and to the bottleneck in the surviving subpopulation. Although genetic diversity decreased, female fecundity and juvenile survival were not affected by the population bottleneck. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
Descriptors: black-footed ferrets, genetic diversity, bottleneck, population, free ranging.

Wisely, S.M., D.B. McDonald, and S.W. Buskirk (2003). Evaluation of the genetic management of the endangered black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes). Zoo Biology 22(3): 287-298. ISSN: 0733-3188.
NAL Call Number: QL77.5.Z6
Descriptors: Mustela nigripes, endangered species, genetic variation, breeding methods, species reintroduction, microsatellite repeats, marker assisted selection, inbreeding, line differences, wildlife management, animal genetic resources, Montana, South Dakota, captive breeding.

Wisely, S.M., J.J. Ososky, and S.W. Buskirk (2002). Morphological changes to black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) resulting from captivity. Canadian Journal of Zoology 80(9): 1562-1568. ISSN: 0008-4301.
NAL Call Number: 470 C16D
Descriptors: ferrets, skull, teeth, morphology, body measurements, variation, capture of animals, animal breeding, inbreeding depression, museum specimens, endangered species, wildlife conservation, craniometrics, skull size, captive breeding.
Language of Text: English; Summary in French.

Wisely, S.M., R.M. Santymire, T.M. Livieri, P.E. Marinari, J.S. Kreeger, D.E. Wildt, and J. Howard (2005). Environment influences morphology and development for in situ and ex situ populations of the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes). Animal Conservation 8(Part 3): 321-328. ISSN: 1367-9430.
Descriptors: black-footed ferrets, wildlife conservation, in situ and ex situ populations of animals, environment influences on morphology and develoment, reintroduction programs.

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