11 Feisty Facts about Ferrets

Ferrets are fuzzy critters that, while pretty ferocious in the wild, often make very loving pets! If you’re neither a cat or a dog person, a ferret may well fill that furry gap in your life. But how much do you really know about these marvelous mammals? Here are some fun facts about ferrets to help clue you in.

1. What’s in a name?

The noun “ferret” comes from the Latin name Furittus. This means “little thief!” It’s also used as a verb, e.g. to “ferret something away.” Better keep your valuables away from your pets, then!

2. Ferret names don’t stop there!

As with other mammals, ferrets have different names depending on their age and gender. For example, a female ferret is a “jill”, and a male ferret is a “hob.” These names differ further if they’ve been spayed – a female is a “sprite,” while a male is a “gib.”

3. Kit and kaboodle!

Baby ferrets are known as “kits”, and they’re born with shockingly white fur! After around three weeks old, they start to develop color.


4. Guardians of the grain!

Ferrets have long been used as pest deterrents of sorts. They’re great at helping to chase off unwanted rodents, and were traditionally employed to guard grain crops from nuisance nibblers. This generally took place up to the 1940s.

5. Treasure your ferret…

While ferrets are fun to look after, they only live for up to eight years on average. Make the most of your time with yours! In the wild, their lifespans are likely to be even shorter.

6. The mosquito is the arch-enemy of the ferret.

While ferrets can be fairly hardy beasts, they suffer if they get bitten by a mosquito – much like we do! However, a mosquito bite can be life-threatening to these critters. Luckily, veterinarians can treat mosquito attacks fairly swiftly with the right medication.

7. The business of ferrets!

No, not their occupation! Business is the collective term for a group of ferrets – sadly, you won’t see too many of them in full suits, tutting at delayed trains!

8. They’re part of a large family.

Ferrets belong to the weasel family of Mustelidae. This family includes polecats, stoats and ermines.

9. Ferrets only dance when they’re under attack.

When feeling threatened, ferrets are known to dance. It has been noted that would-be predators sometimes fall into a trance-like state as they closely watch this ritual!

Ferret dentition

10. Do you know the difference between a ferret… and a poodle?

In 2013, a ferret-related scandal in Argentina made offbeat news! Ferrets had been passed off as miniature pet poodles – sold as puppies, with the promise that they would grow into poodles as they got older. Plenty of people fell for the scam – better make sure you can tell the difference!

11. Ferrets can be amazingly helpful – even at royal events!

As experts at accessing tight spots and getting through tunnels, ferrets have been trained to help humans get to areas that are otherwise inaccessible! In 1981, a team of ferrets assisted electricians by helping lay cables at Buckingham Palace.

Albino ferret

FAQs about Ferrets

When did people first domesticate ferrets?

Records suggest that Ferrets were first domesticated approximately 2,500 years ago. They were trained to descend down holes and pull out rodents and rabbits. It’s thought they were even kept by the Ancient Egyptians!

Can you train a ferret?

Yes - ferrets can be trained in similar ways to cats and dogs. This includes using a litter tray, and to fetch toys and roll over! Ferrets make loyal companions and happily live indoors so long as they have a comfortable bed and spacious area to move around in and play. They’re eager to learn.

Will a ferret bite me?

Ferrets can bite if they feel scared, but they’ll commonly nip you gently if they want something! They can nibble their owners if they feel hungry or want to play, for example. Don’t be too scared if your own pet ferret bites you on the foot – they just want your attention.

Further reading:

Do you know any fun facts about ferrets? Share them in the comments below!

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This page was last modified on March 1, 2023. Suggest an edit

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