When buying a ferret it is best to look for a ferret that has already been neutered and de-scented. Most ferrets sold in pet shops and by breeders will have been neutered and de-scented but it is always wise to ask before you buy as the costs to have this done at a surgery can be very high.
If you buy a ferret that has not been neutered or de-scented you should try and get this done as early as possible. Un-neutered male ferrets will smell and secrete musk; so much at breeding times that that they can become greasy to the touch, not to mention the aggressiveness of an un-neutered male can be hard to deal with as they will need to be housed separately too. Unless you are planning on breeding him you will want to have the surgery done as soon as you can so you can avoid this unpleasant situation. Once your male ferret has been neutered and de-scented they will lose their smell and the musk secretions will stop after about 30 days.
When kept outside and under natural lighting conditions female ferrets will come into heat from around February and last until September, ferrets do not cycle in and out of heat like many other mammals. During this prolonged period your female ferret produces high levels of estrogen and becomes vulnerable to septicaemia and apalstic anemia. Unless you are keeping your female ferret to be used as a breeder, you must have them spayed as soon as possible Up to 90% of all females that are left un-bred die at their first spring summer after they are born. She must be de-scented to eliminate the chance of health risks related to infected scent glands. Most of the time ferrets will be de-scented at the same time that they are neutered.
Ferrets can give off a very unpleasant odour, which is not dissimilar to that of a skunk. They have anal scent glands that they can use as a weapon by expelling the horrible odour. Unlike skunk spray the ferret scent will dispel from the room after a couple of hours if you open some windows and it washes off with soap and water, they will only spray if they feel threatened or are playing rough.
There are many risks associated with a non neutered or de-scented ferret so if possible, always buy a ferret that has already had the operation done.