Friday, June 26, 2009

Waardenburg Syndrome and Ferrets

Waardenburg’s (Vah-den-bergz) Syndrome is an inherited form of deafness accompanied by characteristic markings and eye coloring. It is inherited as an autosomal[1] dominant disease, although severity is variable. It is named for the Dutch ophthalmologist Petrus Johannes Waardenburg (1886-1979) who identified it in 1951.

In the human world Waardenburg Syndrome accounts for approximately 20% of genetic hearing loss. In the ferret world it is believed that 3/4ths of the distinctive fur patterning are deaf.[2]

Waardenburg’s Syndrome affects other animals as well. Certain breeds of dogs and cats are more susceptible to the syndrome such as the Dalmatian along with bright blue-eyed white furred cats. Both of these animals were bred for their coat color and no consideration was given to the possible side effects of such breeding. Both animals and humans with two different colored eyes have a chance of having Waardenburg's Syndrome.

Some of the characteristics of Waardenburg’s Syndrome in ferrets are a more tapered head, almond shaped eyes, and different coat patterns. These coat patterns include badger, panda, blaze, and dark eyed white.

clip_image001 Badger coloration so named for the markings making the ferret look like a miniature badger.

clip_image002 Blaze Coloration james_of_jessie1 You can see the slight almond shape to Lance’s eyes and the white stripe down the back of his head. You can also see how Lance's face comes more to a point than James's.

clip_image003 Dark Eyed White also know as DEW. Looks like an albino but with black eyes.

clip_image004 Panda coloration. Makes the ferret look like it is dressed in a tuxedo.

While I didn't have a clue to Lance's handicap at the time. I am grateful to have the little fuzz butt as a pet. Lance's handicap doesn't slow him down and gives him a better reason to ignore me than his brother James or his sister Gwenny.

Jo



[1] Autosomal n. [Auto + (chromo)some] Any chromosome that is not a sex chromosome. Webster’s New World Dictionary 2nd college edition 1968

[2] http://www.indopedia.org/Ferret.html

1 comment:

Mari Rodriguez said...

This is so interesting. By the way, I don't know anyone who has a ferret (well I didn't until now that is)! Yours are darling.