Domestic Ferret (Mustela putorius f. furo)

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Domestic Ferret
Mustela putorius f. furo
Domestic Ferret (Mustela putorius f. furo)
Name Domestic Ferret
Name Lat. Mustela putorius f. furo
Family Mustelids
Family lat. Mustelidae
Order Carnivores
Order lat. Carnivora
Origin Breeding variety
Climate Temperate
Habitat Forest, tree steppe
Diet Meat, veggies
Behavior Crepuscular
Keeping Individual, pair
Care Level Moderate
Life Span 6-10 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size F: 25-40 cm; M: 50-60 cm
Temperature Room temperature
Housing A: 4 m² / H: 2.5 m
US Units
Size F: 10"-16". M: 20"-24"
Temperature Room temperature
Housing 40 ft² / 80" hight

Distribution and habitat

The ferret is the domesticated form of the polecat and most likely descended from the European woodland tiger. The domestication cannot be classified chronologically. From the 11th century, reports of the use of ferrets for pest control increase. To this day, they are trained for rat control and rabbit hunting. In Corsica, Sicily and New Zealand, they were released to combat the rabbit plague and now form feral populations there.


Minimum dimensions for the enclosure:
2 animals area: 4 m² height: 2,5 m
Each additional animal Area: + 2 m²

The enclosure must be structured with at least 2 floors, accessible via ramps and offering play, climbing and hiding opportunities, such as branches, tubes, stairs, hemp ropes, hammocks, etc. You will need food and drinking containers (water bottles), an easy-to-clean sleeping crate and a ferret toilet (toilet box). Commercial small animal litter, straw pellets or non-mineral cat litter, for example, is suitable as litter for the toilet. They should be kept at room temperature and their natural day-night rhythm should be respected.


They require a very high protein diet, which is composed of 80% meat and 20% vegetables. The species-specific diet consists of ferret food available in specialized stores, supplemented with fruit, vegetables, fresh meat (no pork!), offal from beef, poultry or lamb. Raw egg yolks or boiled eggs and day-old chicks should be fed occasionally to supplement. Ferret dry food and drinking water must always be available in hanging bottles or in stable, open containers. Dog food is not suitable for ferrets because of its low protein content

Ferrets must be fed at least 2 times daily. Carried over or hoarded food should be collected and disposed of immediately.

A regular and varied diet promotes health and prevents deficiency symptoms.

Behaviour and compatibility

Ferrets are sociable, curious and playful animals, accordingly they should be kept in pairs. If an animal is kept singly for a long time, subsequent socialization is rarely successful. At the first signs of incompatibility, the animals should be separated immediately.

Reproduction and breeding

In the male (males), the sexual opening is located approximately at navel level on the abdomen, in the female (females), the vulva is located just in front of the anus. Males are almost twice as large as the females.

The gestation period is 40-45 days. A litter has an average of 3-6 pups, which are born naked, blind and deaf. The pups are suckled for 8-9 weeks. From the 8th month of life, the animals become sexually mature. Life expectancy can be 6-10 years.

Obligation to report

When crossing the border within the EU, the blue EU pet passport must be carried. For identification purposes, the animals are marked with a microchip. Your pet store will be happy to provide you with further information


When kept in enclosures of the minimum size specified, they shall be offered regular employment and opportunity for additional exercise.

There are numerous breeding forms, such as Panda Polecat, Snow, Harlequin, Silver, the Polecat Ferret with dark eyes etc., but also longhaired forms, such as the Angora Ferret.

It is recommended to neuter animals that are not to be bred with. With females the risk of permanent rancor is avoided and with males the odor-intensive marking in the rancor is omitted.

Care must be taken to ensure thorough hygiene and contamination must be removed regularly. Further literature can be found in your pet store


Text: petdata; Image: petdata

Source: BMEL (2014): Gutachten über Mindestanforderungen an die Haltung von Säugetieren; HENKE (2008): Frettchen, GU Verlag; W. PUSCHMANN, D. ZSCHEILE, K. ZSCHEILE (2009): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Säugetiere, Harri Deutsch Verlag

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF