Friday, June 19, 2009

Deafness in Ferrets: A bit about Waardensburg Syndrome

If you are familiar with ferrets, you have undoubtedly heard that blaze ferrets are more prone to deafness than other ferrets. This is true. The reason behind it is a genetic condition known as Waardensburg Syndrome.Waardensburg Syndrome results in the underdevelopment of the cochlear of the inner ear, and is found in ferrets with white heads* such as blazes, pandas and DEWs. The same genetic codes that cause the ferret to have a white head can also cause the ferret to be deaf or hard of hearing. This is not to say that ALL ferrets with white heads ARE deaf, simply that they are genetically predisposed to deafness. In other words: ferrets with white heads are not all deaf, but they are MORE likely to be deaf than, say, sable ferrets.

*Albinism is caused by a genetic condition which is entierly different than Waardensburg Syndrome; albinism is not an indication of deafness but, due to the complications with eye development resulting from lack of pigment, albinism in ferrets has been attributed to poor(er) eyesight and potential blindless


  1. I'm not really sure what color pattern my ferret falls under. He is a cream color with gray tips down his back and tail, with a white head. Anyway, he's deaf as a doornail!

  2. He may be a roan or a DEW (some have more of a cream undercoat as opposed to a white one). Are you finding the deafness relatively simple to cope with, or are you having any major troubles with it? There are some excellent online resources for owners of deaf ferrets. One that is recommended in "ferrets for dummies" is

    Hope you enjoy the perks of having a ferret that doesn't mind at all if you sing a little out of key in the shower!