Ferret Skin Tumors And A White Sugar Glider

Dr. Murray discusses treatment of skin tumors in several ferrets, and a surprise with a sugar glider case.

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Dr. Murray has only seen two almost all white sugar gliders out of nearly 300 that he's treated. Via Joseph Illingworth/Flickr
Dr. Jerry Murray

Skin tumors are fairly common in pet ferrets. Recently I treated three ferrets with the two most common skin tumors, and one ferret with an unusual lump under its skin.

The first case involved a ferret with a large growth near its shoulder. This is called a sebaceous epithelioma. Despite its ugly appearance, it is a benign tumor of the sebaceous (oil producing) gland of the skin, so surgery to remove it is highly recommended. The owner did just that, and the ferret recovered very quickly.

The next two cases were ferrets owned by the same person. Both ferrets had mast cell tumors. Mast cell tumors are small, flat and itchy, and they are very common. A mast cell tumor often has a small scab covering the tumor. These tumors are also benign, and surgery is curative. Both of the ferrets are geriatric ferrets, so the owner was concerned about surgery and anesthesia. Most skin tumors can be removed relatively quickly, and most ferrets recover quickly from their surgery. That was the case with these two older ferrets.

The fourth case involved a ferret with a medium-sized nodule just behind her shoulder going down toward her armpit. A vaccine had been given close to this location, so a tentative diagnosis of a local vaccine reaction was made. The ferret was treated with cortisone to reduce the size of the nodule and to reduce the inflammation. To be on the safe side, surgery was performed to remove the fat pad and inflamed tissue. Some inflammation occurred at the surgery site right after the surgery, but the ferret did just fine after a few days.

The last case was a routine neuter of a sugar glider. The owner drove a long distance (from east Texas on a rainy day) for this surgery. He was a very friendly sugar glider, but what really stood out was his color. Instead of being the normal grayish hue, he was predominately white in color (see fig 3). After neutering roughly 300 sugar gliders, this was only the second sugar glider I had seen that was almost all white. As is often the case with exotic pets, even a routine surgery can be exciting!

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Article Categories:
Critters · Ferrets · Sugar Gliders