Are Ferrets Rodents? Nope – Find out Why!6 min read

The question “Are ferrets rodents?” is one of the most common questions I get asked by people who are considering getting a pet, but don’t know if they can have them in their home. In this post, we will find out what makes a rodent and why ferrets are not rodents!

To be clear: ferrets are not rodents!



The name ferret is derived from the Latin furittus meaning “little thief” or “thief”“. They are members of the weasel or mustelid family, which includes weasels and otters.

Mustelids belong to the larger order Carnivora – They are actually closer related to cats, bears, and dogs than they are to rats and mice.

They are not rodents because they do not have two incisors in each jaw like rats or mice! Rodents also chew their food with one set of teeth (incisal) while mustelines use both sets to crush bones for marrow as well eat meat off them too

Ferrets only need small pieces that can be swallowed whole so there’s no chewing involved at all.


The word rodent comes from the Latin rodere, meaning to gnaw; a characteristic of most mammals in this order is that all their teeth are constantly growing so they can keep eating hard foods such as nuts!

Rodents belong to the largest group of mammals, the order Rodentia, which includes pets like mice, rats, hamsters, and guinea pigs.

Beavers, muskrats, porcupines, woodchucks, chipmunks, squirrels, prairie dogs, marmots, chinchillas, voles, lemmings are also included.

Do Ferrets Hunt and Eat Rodents?

Old Picture of Ferrets Hunting alongsife humans

Women Hunting Rabbits with a Ferret From the Queen Mary Psalter, 1316-1321 (British Library, MS Royal 2. B. VII)

Ferrets hunt, kill and eat rodents. You can feed your ferret with whole prey such as a mouse, rat, or rabbit. Ferrets were originally domesticated for hunting purposes – and as a pest control against rats.

What are the biggest differences between a Rodent and a Ferret?

Body Shape

The body of a ferret is more slender than that of a rodent. The ferret’s head is also smaller and has shorter hair. Rats or mice have larger heads with longer fur on their faces to protect them from dirt when they burrow in it for food.

Ferrets have a very flexible frame that is much longer than that of a rodent. Read more about the flexibility of ferrets.

The Ferret Smell

Another big difference is the smell. Ferrets are known for the strong musky odor they emit, which is caused by scent glands near their anus and genitals called anal sacs or perianal gland.

The animals use these to mark territory with an oily substance secreted through small holes in those areas of skin when ferret feels threatened (e-g., during mating season).

The ferret smell also is emitted from the oils in the skin.

This secretion can be smelled on them at all times but it becomes stronger after eating products such as tuna because this food contains high levels of omega-three fatty acids, so there is increased production of oils.

Fun Fact: Ferrets are often mistaken for wild animals. That is not true. Ferrets are domesticated animals and are related to the European polecat. They must not be confused with the black-footed ferret!


Ferret’s teeth differ from the teeth of rodents. If you think about a rodent such as a mouse, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is their two big front teeth.

Ferrets have long pointed teeth called canines.

You’ll find those long teeth in cats and dogs too. Well, actually most predators have those canine teeth. They use those teeth to keep a hold of their prey.

Ferrets have a lot of teeth, but the ones in front will always be that long pointed canine tooths! They use their incisors for grooming and eating soft food such as meat.

The molars on both sides grind up dry kibble into smaller pieces that they then swallow whole with no chewing necessary because ferret’s digestive system is designed so it doesn’t need much digestion time before passing through them again.

This means less waste material too which helps keep your home cleaner than if you had rodents living there instead.

They would produce more feces over longer periods due to not needing any prepping by stomach acids first.


Ferrets are obligate Carnivores. That means they only eat meat. No fruits, no seeds, no vegetables. They need a lot of animal-based protein and fat to survive.

Rodents can be omnivores or herbivores.

Omnivores mean they eat both meat as well as vegetables, fruits etcetera

Herbivores eat only vegetables, fruits and seeds.

Ferrets are strict carnivores (eat only meat) which means they need a lot of protein to survive while rodents can be omnivore or herbivorous (eating both meat as well veggies).

This is an important difference because ferret’s diet needs more fat than rodent’s one does in order for them not get sick from malnutrition due their high-calorie requirement per day that exceeds the amount humans require by far!

Rodents on other hand don’t have such specific requirements so it would take much less food volume but also quality since most plant foods provide vitamins A & C together with fiber.

Hunter or Prey

  • Ferrets are Hunters
  • Rodents are Prey

Frequently Asked Questions

What do ferrets eat?

Ferret’s diet needs more fat than rodents one does in order for them not to get sick from malnutrition due to their high-calorie requirement per day that exceeds the amount humans require by far!

Ferret’s diet needs more fat than rodents one does in order for them not to get sick from malnutrition due to their high-calorie requirement per day that exceeds the amount humans require by far!

What Family does the Ferret Belong to

Ferrets belong to the Mustelidae family which also includes weasels, otters, and badgers. Ferrets are not rodents!

They belong to a different group of animals called Mustela that is made up by all members in this category such as ferret’s cousins – mink or wolverine for example but they don’t have any similarities with rats, mice, and so on.

Do Ferret Kill Cats

Ferrets usually don’t kill cats. They can be very good pets for people who have a cat at home.

The only thing that you need to do in order for your pet will get along with other animals (including felines) Ferrets usually adapts quickly but if something goes wrong then try changing its cage location which might help solve this problem too

Are Cats Related to Ferrets?

Yes. Cats belong to the larger order Carnivora and are therefore related to ferrets. The same is true for bears and dogs!

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