Domestic ferret

Scientific Name

Mustela putorius furo


The domestic ferret is descended from the European polecat. Its Latin name roughly translates as ‘smelly, mouse killer thief’!

Ferrets are characterised by their long, slender bodies. They have very flexible spines which allow them to manoeuvre through small and winding spaces. They can bend their bodies 180 degrees (into a ‘U’ shape) to get around tight corners.

Ferrets have historically been used by humans in rabbit hunting. In this hunting method, ferrets are released into burrows and scare the rabbits out, allowing the human hunters to catch or shoot them. They are also popular pets due to their small size and quiet temperament.

Ferrets are mostly nocturnal (active at night) or crepuscular (most active at dusk and dawn). They sleep for about 18 hours a day!


Ferrets are carnivores. In the wild, they eat mice, small rabbits and occasionally birds.

Size Fact

Females can weigh up to 1kg and males can weigh up to 2kg. 

Food Fact

Our ferrets enjoy chicks’ legs as a snack!

Fun Fact

When ferrets get excited they squeak and jump around energetically. This is known as a ‘war dance’.

IUCN Red list

Domestic ferrets are not currently evaluated on the IUCN red list.

Where do I live?

They can be found throughout much of Europe and Asia. They have also been introduced to New Zealand and Australia.

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