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15 Interesting Ferret Facts You Never Knew

It's time for some furry ferret facts! Find out all about these fun pets and what they eat, where they come from and why they can get a bit stinky!

Beano Facts Team
Last Updated:ย  May 9th 2023

Ferrets! They're everyone's favourite stinky member of the weasel family! But how much do you know about these awesome pets! Find out 15 cool ferret facts with us, as we take you through everything from their name to where they come from to why they smell so bad! And we've got loads more animal facts right here if you fancy it! Check out these prickly hedgehog facts! Or how about these cool and creepy goblin shark facts? Maybe you want to know more about gorillas, in which case its a good thing we've got all these gorilla facts!

1. They Belong to the Weasel Family

Ferrets are mustelids, which is a type of animal that includes weasels, stoats, badgers, mongoose and even otters! These animals are usually characterised by their long thin bodies and carnivorous diets. They are also well known to emit a 'musky' scent, which they use to mark their territory.

2. Their Name Means 'Little Thief'

Their official name is Mustella putorius furo, which means 'musky little thief'. This is because, yes, they can be a bit smelly, and they are also known to steal things! Hence the phrase 'ferreting around'.

3. They're Found in Europe

Ferrets are related to European polecats, and by extension their American cousins, American polecats, or black-footed ferrets. Polecats tend to live in forested areas and feed on animals like rabbits and other small rodents.

4. They Don't Live in the Wild

Although they are close relatives to wild animals like weasels, stoats and even otters, they don't actually live in the wild naturally. The type of ferret you get as a pet is a domestic animal, so if you see one in the wild, it's probably lost!

5. They've Had Lots of Different Jobs

Ferrets are best known as hunting animals, who can catch rabbits and other small mammals for their owners to eat. However, they are also useful as watch animals, as they can guard grain and other goods from rats! Sometimes, you can even race them!

6. They Can Give You the Flu!

Ferrets are great pets, but they have one annoying feature! They can be infected with influenza, just like people, which means they also might pass it to you! If you have a ferret, it's important to get a yearly flu jab!

7. They Were Domesticated Thousands of Years Ago

Ferrets have been around in their pet form for literally thousands of years, so your ferret is as likely to enjoy a night in the woods as you are! For most of their domestic history, ferrets have been used to hunt animals like rabbits and birds for humans. Their slim bodies make them perfect for this.

8. They Are Really Friendly

Ferrets are popular because they are very playful animals. They love exploring, finding out new things by tasting them, and playing games. They will bond easily with their owners and love hanging out in groups, which makes them a great pet if you're sociable!

9. They Are Carnivores

Ferrerts are meat eaters. They don't do well with vegetables, because their bodies aren't designed for them! Ferrets prefer raw meat, including the bones of animals, such as chicken, turkey, rabbit and lamb. They also like eating cat food if you can't get fresh meat!

10. The Babies Are Called Kits

Baby ferrets are called kits, and are born without fur. When their fur does start to grow, it will be white, before eventually darkening. They are also REALLY SMALL when they are born, they can fit on a teaspoon!

11. They Can Sleep For Up To 20 Hours a Day

Ferrets love sleeping, and they sleep a lot! In fact, ferrets need up to 20 hours of sleep a day! They sleep so deeply that it can be hard to wake them up, even if you shake them! Best to leave them to snooze until they are reading to wake up!

12. They Can Get a Bit Stinky

Yes, that's right, ferrets can get a bit stinky. This is because they have special scent glands around their bottoms which emit smells to help them mark their territory, amongst other things. And don't try to give your ferret a bath - it'll only get stinkier! This is because their glands are releasing extra scent to make up for the scent you've washed away! Instead, make sure their living areas are as clean as possible to keep smells to a minimum.

13. They Are Natural Hunters

Ferrets were domesticated because they are so good at hunting other animals. They are quiet and agile, making them ideal for sneaking up on prey. They also have lots of energy (from all that sleeping!) which helps them.

14. They Need Lots of Looking After As Pets

If you think you'd like to have a ferret as a pet, just remember that they are a lot of hard work. Ferrets require lots of cleaning, supervision and attention. They have to play with you and other ferrets for several hours a day, otherwise they become depressed, so make sure you've got lots of time and space for your ferret!

15. But They Can Be Really Rewarding!

Even though they're hard work (and a bit stinky) ferrets make great pets - they're friendly, sociable, curious animals with lots of energy and real affection for their owners! So maybe a ferret would be the perfect pet for you! Unless you're a mouse, that is!