A ferret chordoma (different from a chondroma) is a tumor typically found on the tip of a ferret’s tail. It is the most common musculoskeletal tumor in ferrets, according to Ferrets for Dummies. Chordomas grow beneath the ferret’s nerve cord and can cause compression of the spinal cord. This can cause discomfort and paralysis (according to Biology and Diseases of the Ferret). They most commonly occur in ferrets over three years of age. According to Ferrets for Dummies: “The tumor itself is made up of a bony center beneath a layer of cartilage.” Chordomas are often first noticed the size of a pea. However, if they are left untreated, they can grow to the size of a grape or larger. Luckily, Chordomas are slow-growing (according to Ferrets for Dummies). They do not usually metastasize or spread throughout the body. Not as common -chordomas can also grow on a ferret’s neck which is fatal. Chordomas are different than Chondrosarcomas, which are a metastatic type of cancer in the cartilage. These types of tumors can grow on the ribs and breast bones, along with the spine. Here is Moose with his Chordoma What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Ferret Chordoma? Pain or IrritationGrowth on TailBleeding of Oozing of TailLoss of Mobility Chordomas look like firm, hairless balls on the end of a ferret’s tail. They often become scratched or opened as they grow larger due to itching, irritation, and dragging of the tail. Because chordomas put direct pressure on the spinal cord, they can cause loss of overall mobility in ferrets (according to Ferrets for Dummies). This can cause weakness and numbness. Chordomas can painful for a ferret as they grow. As the tumor grows, it puts pressure on the soft tissue around the spinal column -pain can increase with movement. Chordomas at the base of the tail can cause considerable irritation. Ferrets can often fixate on itching them as they grow, due to the pain they cause. Ferrets often scratch or rupture chordomas as they grow larger. According to Ferrets for Dummies, vets generally recommend surgery for removal. However, some vets believe that partial amputation of the tail can cause a ferret to fixate and chew on the surgery site, causing further complications. Please consult your vet regarding the best way to treat your ferret’s chordoma. What Causes Chordomas in Ferrets? According to Ferrets for Dummies, chordomas develop from leftover embryonic tissue. Sometimes embryonic tissue continues to grow in an irregular manor, causing chordomas. How Do You Diagnose a Chordoma in Ferrets? X-rays Physical examinationBiopsyBlood test A vet will usually assess the ferret with a physical examination to determine if there is a chordoma present. Because they are typically located at the base of the tail, they are easy to diagnose. If there are further uncertainties or complications (such as a chordoma located in the cervical collar) imaging scans may be required. If the vet suspects the chordoma may be cancerous (Chondrosarcoma) then they will preform a biopsy of the tumor. Blood tests can also be used to see how far the cancer has spread throughout the ferret’s body. How Do You Treat a Ferret Chordoma? Surgery is the most common recommendation to remove a chordoma in a ferret. If the ferret does not receive surgery, the tumor will continue to grow and put increased pressure on the spinal cord. The pain and lack of mobility can be very stressful for a ferret. However, some vets recommend leaving the chordoma in tact if it does not seem to be causing a ferret pain. Because chordomas do not typically metastasize (spread throughout the body) a single surgery to remove the chordoma is usually enough to stop the tumor. What is the Prognosis for Ferrets with Chordomas? Because surgery is the most common form of treatment, recovery depends primarily on post-surgery care. It is important to keep the surgical area clean and prevent the animal from re-opening the wound. It is also vital that your ferret continues to eat and drink regular while they recover.