Care, management, and use of ferrets in biomedical research.

Publication date: Mar 26, 2024

The ferret (Mustela putorius furo) is a small domesticated species of the family Mustelidae within the order Carnivora. The present article reviews and discusses the current state of knowledge about housing, care, breeding, and biomedical uses of ferrets. The management and breeding procedures of ferrets resemble those used for other carnivores. Understanding its behavior helps in the use of environmental enrichment and social housing, which promote behaviors typical of the species. Ferrets have been used in research since the beginning of the twentieth century. It is a suitable non-rodent model in biomedical research because of its hardy nature, social behavior, diet and other habits, small size, and thus the requirement of a relatively low amount of test compounds and early sexual maturity compared with dogs and non-human primates. Ferrets and humans have numerous similar anatomical, metabolic, and physiological characteristics, including the endocrine, respiratory, auditory, gastrointestinal, and immunological systems. It is one of the emerging animal models used in studies such as influenza and other infectious respiratory diseases, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, cardiac research, gastrointestinal disorders, neuroscience, and toxicological studies. Ferrets are vulnerable to many human pathogenic organisms, like severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), because air transmission of this virus between them has been observed in the laboratory. Ferrets draw the attention of the medical community compared to rodents because they occupy a distinct niche in biomedical studies, although they possess a small representation in laboratory research.

Concepts Keywords
Biomedical Biomedical Research
Diet Cystic fibrosis
Influenza Ferret
Primates Housing
Twentieth Influenza


Type Source Name
disease VO Mustela putorius furo
disease VO Primates
disease MESH influenza
disease MESH respiratory diseases
disease MESH cystic fibrosis
disease MESH gastrointestinal disorders
disease VO Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2
drug DRUGBANK Medical air

Original Article

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