Ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) are domestic animals.
They are the domestic form of the European polecat.
Ferrets are in the weasel genus of the family Mustelidae.
The name “ferret” is derived from the Latin furittus, meaning “little thief”, a likely reference to the common ferret penchant for secreting away small items.
The history of the ferret’s domestication is uncertain, like that of most other domestic animals, but it is likely that ferrets have been domesticated for at least 2,500 years.
The native habitat of domestic ferrets were forested and semi-forested habitats near water sources.
Currently domestic ferrets are found around the world in homes as pets.
In Europe, people sometimes use ferrets for hunting, which is known as ferreting. Because of their thin body, they can go down into holes and hunt rodents and rabbits.
The lifespan of ferrets is from 7 to 10 years.
Ferrets have an average length of 51 cm (20 in) including a 13 cm (5.1 in) tail, weigh from 0.7 to 2 kg (1.5 to 4 lb).
With their long thin body, ferrets look like a large weasel.
Ferrets may have different colors and markings on their fur. The seven common fur colors are called: sable, silver, black sable, albino, dark-eyed white, cinnamon, and chocolate. The most common of these colors is sable. Examples of pattern types are: Siamese or pointed patterned, panda, Shetlands, badgers, and blazes.
Unlike their polecat ancestors, which are solitary animals, most ferrets will live happily in social groups. A group of ferrets is commonly referred to as a “business.”
In captivity ferrets become tame and playful and remain inquisitive. They will often sleep 14-18 hours per day.
Ferret are naturally crepuscular, having activity periods during dawn and dusk. They will often change this activity period depending on when their owner is around to give them attention.
Ferrets should be kept in a group, unless you can provide them with multiple hours of activity, they get quite bored when alone. Ferrets tend to sleep curled up together in a ball usually making them undistinguishable from one another.
Ferrets have many forms of verbal communication. They will ‘dock’ or ‘cluck’ as sounds of giddiness or excitement. They will ‘screech’ as a sign of terror, pain, or anger. They will ‘bark’ if they are very excited. Finally, a domestic ferret will ‘hiss’ if it is annoyed or very angry at another ferret or animal.
Every ferret is unique and has its own personality. Some are independent and some are very cuddly, but each is an individual!
Ferrets, like cats, are pure carnivores that need a high quantity of protein and fat in their diet.
Ferrets cannot digest carbohydrates, so make sure the kitten food contains no corn or grain, and meat is the first ingredient.
Easily bred in captivity, females bear two litters of six or seven young each year.
Ferrets don’t need a huge cage, though the bigger the better.
Some owners are amazed at how adept ferrets become at solving problems. Ferrets are very determined and will work at figuring something out with surprising persistence. They enjoy challenging puzzles and games and it’s recommended to provide them with puzzle-based toys or games.
Ferrets usually interact with cats and dogs in a friendly manner.