Ferrets are some of the most popular pets in the world. They’re energetic, fun-loving, and intelligent animals that make great companions for humans and other animals alike.
Ferrets come from a long line of wild animals called Mustelids, including weasels, otters, and badgers!
In this article, we’ll be talking about some fascinating facts about ferrets – so let’s get started!
Are Ferret Rodents?
No, ferrets are not rodents. They’re part of the Mustelidae family, which includes weasels, otters, and badgers! Your ferret might look like a rodent, but it’s actually not a rodent. They were bred for hunting rodents!
Do ferrets Smell?
Yes, ferrets do have a musty odor, and this is an odor that can transfer to your hair or your clothes if you rub your ferrets on you.
The worst smell for ferrets is when you don’t clean them out regularly because they have carnivorous little poops, which smell awful.
Some ferret term refers to an intact male ferret as a hob and an intact female ferret as a jill. The neutered male ferret is called a gib, while the spayed female ferret is called a sprite. A group of ferrets is called a business.
How Long do They Live
On average, ferrets will live between six and 10 years.
Do Ferrets Sleep a lot?
Unlike nocturnal animals, which wake up at nighttime, or diurnal animals, which wake up during the day, ferrets are most active at dawn and dusk.
Are Ferrets wild Animals?
Ferrets are domesticated animals, and they make great pets for homes. They do not occur anywhere naturally in the wild.
The only wild ferret is the black-footed ferrets of North America, which is critically endangered.
They were introduced in New Zealand to control the rabbit population. It turned out that they are now considered invasive species in New Zealand.
For this reason, the ferrets in America are sold so they cannot have any babies in case they escaped into the wild and become an agricultural pest, so there is a domestic species.
The Latin name for the domestic ferret is Mustela putorius furo Linnaeus, roughly translating to the stinky little thief.
Most Popular Color
The domestic ferret is bred to have lots of different colors, but the most popular color is this color which is the sable mask. This color, the sable mask, is one of the most popular colors for ferret breeding.
Basically, it is a variation of the gray color that their wild counterparts, the European polecat, possess.
With the breeding of the domestic ferret and with ferrets gaining more popularity as pets in recent years, different coat types have also been developed.
According to the AFA (AFA- American Ferret Association, they regulate and register animals to ensure high health standards.) There are eight colors in all that makeup breeding standards for ferrets.
And speaking of coats, just like their cousins, the mink, ferrets are also bred to produce fur for the fur industry.
A fur coat made from a ferret is called a Fitch coat…
Ferrets are pretty intelligent, so they can be taught how to walk on a leash and use a litter pan, but they’re also smart enough to understand no and not care when you say no.
So a ferret is not for you. If you don’t like a creature, that’s gonna be a little bit of a challenge and a bit mischievous. When ferrets are excited, they perform something called the weasel war dance. This is not aggressive behavior. This is play.
It’s thought that ferrets were domesticated around 2500 years ago from either the western or European polecat. This is some footage I took of a European polecat at the British Wildlife Center in London.
Throughout history, ferrets have been a popular pet for royalty, clergy, and the nobility. We know this from historical portraits like the woman with the ermine painted by Leonardo da Vinci.
Ferrets Sleep a Lot
Ferrets sleep a lot. In fact, they’re prone to a type of sleep called dead sleep, which is when they look like they’re barely breathing at all.
Sometimes in a dead sleep, you can move your ferret around for minutes at a time without any sign of movement. Or – as you can see in the picture – they stick their tongue out.
Research shows that ferrets actually experienced REM which is rapid eye movement sleep. This means that they’re probably more likely to dream than other pets.
Ferrets are Flexible
The reason why ferrets are super flexible is that they have elongated vertebrae.
The spines of ferrets are super flexible. This is because their vertebrae are proportionally longer than those of many other animals. This makes them almost snake-like in their ability to slip into impossibly tight spaces.
Rabbit Hunting Ferrets
Hunters will put ferrets down rabbit holes, and the ferret flushes out the rabbits. People catch the rabbits as food for their ferrets and themselves and simply just for sport.
Hunters like to use albino or white ferrets when hunting. It makes them stand out against the landscape and from rabbits.
FUN FACT: the first ferrets to reach America are thought to have been in the 18th century which were employed on ships to keep the vermin away from food stocks
Diet-wise, ferrets are obligate carnivores, meaning that they only and exclusively eat meat. Being an obligate carnivore means that ferrets cannot actually digest or benefit from any grains or vegetables.
People like to feed a formulated diet that is protein-based but comes in the form of kibbles. The advantages are that you can store kibble much easier than meat…
Kibble is also good for their teeth since it’s a hard substance that helps remove plaque build-ups as ferret gnaws on the kibbles with their back molars.
Ferrets can go through about two cups of dry food per day, so you better plan ahead!
But the most healthy ferrets are raised on a purely raw food diet of lots of different meat cuts.
So if you’re going to be feeding your ferrets a pre-formulated diet, make sure it’s food, especially for ferrets. Ferrets need at least 34% of protein, plus 15-25% of fat in their food.
Rabies & Distemper
Ferrets can contract rabies and distemper, so you must vaccinate your ferrets. Some jurisdictions made it mandatory to vaccinate your furry friends!
Ferrets are actually illegal in some states and towns.
Make sure that if you’re going to keep ferrets, they are legal. Although ferrets can make amusing rewarding, and medium-maintenance pets, it’s important to remember that they are predators. Keep them away from smaller animals in your household.