21 Facts About Ferrets


They’re adorable, mischievous, and inquisitive by nature. Ferrets are also very sociable animals and can make wonderful pets, especially if handled and socialized well from an early age. Like cats and dogs, it’s fairly easy to litter train these little furballs. Planning on getting one? Then keep on reading to learn 21 facts about Ferrets. 

Fact 1: Ferrets are the domesticated version of the European polecat (also known as the ‘common ferret’).

  • Ferrets belong to the same family as the weasel, and their fur is normally brown, black, white, or mixed in color.

Fact 2: Ferrets are popular pets and are often used in veterinary research. 

  • In captivity, they are quite tame and playful, and they are inquisitive and can certainly take care of themselves.
  • However, when a ferret is kept as a pet, they become dependent on their owners for survival. Which means, as sad as this is, if a pet ferret goes missing generally they won’t survive long in the wild as they are not equipped to deal with the outside world. 

Fact 3: The common ferret is around 51cm in length (with a tail).

  • They generally have a 13-cm long tail.
  • Ferrets generally weigh about 1 kg, but their weights can fluctuate to be between 0.7-2kg in some cases.

Fact 4: They are quiet animals. 

  • While they can and do make noises, Ferrets are usually very quiet, and are rather content in silent environments. They make a loud noise when they are very frightened or injured. 
  • They also sleep away a large portion of the day, which is likely to help with the quietness.

Fact 5: You can feed them on a diet of water and meat, which is similar to what you’d give to a domestic house cat. 

  • Important to note is, common Ferrets are subject to foot rot, which means that their cages must be kept extremely clean. So, don’t go leaving old food and bedding in their cages!

Fact 6: They’ve been used to hunt rabbits, rats, and other vermin in the past. 

  • Ferreting, or hunting with ferrets, is a past time enjoyed by both the young and old. Hunting of this nature is used as a way of controlling the rabbit populations in areas where they are agricultural pests. The Ferret’s long tubular body and short limbs, as well as its aggressive hunting technique, make it ideal for this function.

Fact 7: A female Ferret can die if they don’t find a mate during mating season. 

  • Remaining in heat for too long creates estrogen toxicity and the bone marrow stops producing new red blood cells. They essentially die of ‘the horn’.

Fact 8: The black-footed Ferret of the American Great Plains is an endangered species.

  • The black-footed Ferret resembles the common ferret in color, but has a black mask across its eyes and brownish-black markings on its feet and tail tip.

Fact 9: Male Ferrets are typically larger than females. 

  • Females have smaller heads and much more pointed features. Men, on the other hand, have a lot more muscle and their heads are typically bigger. 

Fact 10: Each Ferret is unique!

  • Some are independent and some are very cuddly, but every Ferret you see is completely unique! If you are thinking about having a pet Ferret, it can be helpful to meet a few pet ferrets first. 

Fact 11: A Ferret’s life span is around 6 to 13 years.

  • Ferrets are highly intelligent and social pets that do best in small groups. It is highly recommended that you consider adopting a pair of Ferrets so they will always have a companion to socialize with.

Fact 12: Ferrets have a fast metabolism which is why they need to eat every 3-4 hours.

  • For your Ferret pet, it is best to have dry food available constantly. Moreover, you should avoid foods which are too high in vegetable and grain matter. 

Fact 13: The endangered black-footed Ferrets were the subject of several animal reintroduction programs.

  • However, the reintroductions have had mixed results. While Utah, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Kansas host self-sustaining populations, the species was classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as extinct in the wild between 1996 and 2008. After a population reassessment in 2008, the IUCN listed the black-footed Ferret as an endangered species.

Fact 14: They spend 14-18 hours a day sleeping.

  • Ferrets are most active around the hours of dawn and dusk, meaning they are ‘crepuscular’.
  • Male Ferrets are usually lazier than female Ferrets, and older Ferrets tend to sleep more than young Ferrets.

Fact 15: It’s illegal to adopt or purchase a Ferret in some places. 

  • If you live in California, Hawaii or New York City, for instance, you’ll find that these fuzzy fellows are banned. Many veterinarians in these areas will still treat sick Ferrets, but finding a ferret-savvy vet in these locations can sometimes be difficult. 

Fact 16: Like cats and dogs, Ferrets also need to be vaccinated.

  • In many of the states in which Ferrets are legal, the law requires that they must be vaccinated for rabies.
  • Also, since Ferrets are very susceptible to the deadly canine distemper virus that commonly affects dogs, they should receive vaccinations against this virus as well.

Fact 17: Ferrets once saved a concert in 1999. 

  • A group of highly trained Ferrets was once recruited to save a millennium pop concert in London. The unusual engineering solution was used because engineers couldn’t fit their equipment down the narrow tunnels when they were trying to set up backstage for the concert.
  • Specialists dressed Ferrets up in tiny nylon harnesses, which had the necessary cables attached to them, and then they encouraged the Ferrets to go down the tunnel entrance and follow the desired tunnel to the end. 

Fact 18: Ferrets were first introduced in the Americas in the 17th century.

  • They were used extensively from 1860 until the start of World War II to protect grain stores in the American West from rodents.  

Fact 19: They’re the third most popular pet in the United States. 

  • There are currently an estimated 5-7 million domesticated pet Ferrets in the United States.

Fact 20: They are carnivores. 

  • This means that their natural diet consists of small prey, including meat, organs, bones, skin, feathers, and fur.
  • Ferrets have short digestive systems and quick metabolism, so they need to eat frequently.

Fact 21: The average gestation period for a female is around 42 days, and the female can have two or three litters each year. 

  • The litter size is usually between 3 and 7 kits, which are weaned after 3 to 6 weeks and become independent at 3 months.

References:

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