DOMESTIC FERRET

Scientific Name: Mustela putorius furo
Order
Carnivora (Carnivorous mammals)

Family
Mustelidae (badgers, otters, weasels, and relatives)

Habitat & Range
Domestic ferrets are named so because they are completely domesticated. They cannot and do not exist in the wild. They are a distant relative of both the European polecat and black-footed ferret. Domestic ferrets can be found all over the world, with the exception of Antarctica.

Identification
Domestic ferrets have a long, slender body that averages 20 inches in length (including its 5 inch tail). They range in weight from 1 to 4 pounds. They typically have black, brown or white fur, small ears and a pink nose.

Diet
As obligate carnivores, their natural diet consists of whole small prey such as mice or rabbits. Since they are domesticated, a typical meal consists of prepared dry foods that are almost entirely meat. They have short digestive tracts and a fast metabolism, and therefore need to eat frequently.

Reproduction & Lifespan
Domestic ferrets reach sexual maturity by 6 months of age. During mating season, males are very aggressive to the point of killing other males. Females may have up to 3 litters per year, each consisting of 3 to 7 young. The gestation period is 42 days, and young are completely weaned at 2 months.

Domestic ferrets live an average of 8 years.

Fantastic Fact
Weasel War Dance
When excited, domestic ferrets perform a routine characterized by a series of sideways hops and bumping into objects. It is not an aggressive behavior, but rather an invitation for play, which may be accompanied by a chuckling noise referred to as dooking.

 
 
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