Ferrets – Taxonomy

Picture courtesy of
Brooke’s Ferret Frenzy © 1996
Brooke Lusky

Ferrets are carnivorous, belonging to Mustelidae family, the oldest living family in the Carnivora.

There exist two species of Ferrets: Black-footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes) and European Domestic Ferret (Mustela Putorius).

Wild Ferrets can be found worldwide, except in Australia and some Oceanic islands.

Ferrets – Description

The European and the Black-footed Ferrets are two different breeds that are similar only in size.

Black-footed Ferrets have broader heads, less pointed faces, and larger ears and eyes than their domestic cousins. Their legs, feet, tops of their heads are black or dark-brown.

Domestic Ferrets have large front feet for digging, wide tails that taper off towards the tip, and may vary in the color.

Ferrets’ eyes are black or red with round pupils when open, and slits, like cats, when closed in bright light. But the slits are horizontal, not vertical. There are sable, albino, silver, cinnamon, and chocolate Ferrets. Even Angora Ferrets exist with longer hair.

Ferrets – Social Structure

Picture courtesy of
Ferret Central © 1994-2002
Pamela Greene

In the wild, Ferrets are very territorial and live solitary lives. Male Ferrets exclude other males from their territory, and females exclude other females. But males’ and females’ territories may overlap, however their hunting styles are different.

The females tend to go after smaller prey than males. Both males and females hunt rabbits, but females can also go down the burrows of rats and voles.

Ferrets – Personality

Ferrets are lovable, friendly, playful little animals. If you keep a single Ferret, it will get lonely. Being very curious, they need attention and lots of toys.

A sleeping Ferret may seem like a dead Ferret, because its body temperature drops considerably. Waking up Ferrets shiver terribly to bring up the temperature.