American Ferret.....

Text: Greg Rattell
These photos may be used for non-profit educational purposes. Please give credit to: E. Iglich@mcdaniel.edu

American Ferret Life span: American Ferret : 6-7 years European Ferret : 9-10 years

The american ferret is descended from Mustela furo, the european ferret. It was first domesticated in Egypt around 1200 BC. They were used as both pets and hunting animals, usually going after rabbits or mice. They tend to come in many color variations; albino, brown, chocolate, etc.

They tend to have a "whippet" body type, similar to a spring or slinky. When they walk the central portion of their torso is usually elevated. They have a strong burrowing instinct, and are known to very curious.

The only wild ferret in north america is the black footed ferret, found in areas such as Wyoming. They live in previously dug burrows and hunt on the native prairie dog population. Males are referred to as "hobs," and females are known as "jills." Newborn ferrets are known as "kits," and reach maturity within 6 months.

 

 



They are extremely active and behave between periods of hyperactivity and extreme rest. Ferrets tend to live in groups and even the domesticated ferrets are better suited to group living. Several behaviors are clear in both the wild and domesticated ferrets.

Ferrets have a need to explore due to their intense curiosity. they can enter into very small openings and like to have vast areas to live within. When walking around their "territory," they are sensitive to anything out of the ordinary and can be distracted by intense sounds or lights. Foreign scents are dealt with immediately. when detected the ferret will roll on its' back and smother it with its' own scent. During exploration, a ferret may extend its' tail and puff it out. This is a sign of being alert or a warning to other creatures that the ferret is ready to attack.

Becoming dirty or burrowing in the ground is also a form of play when outside. Ferrets are interesting creatures which are very interesting to observe. They are very intelligent and are interesting to observe alone or in pairs.