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Ferrets

The ferret (Mustela putorius furo) is a domestic pet.  It is not a wild animal, though ferrets are descendants of the European polecat (weasel) and are, therefore, close relatives of skunks, mink, otters and badgers.

Types and Terms: There are 2 varieties of ferrets, based on coloration. Fitch ferrets (the most popular) are buff-colored, with black masks, feet and tails. Albino ferrets are white, with pink eyes. The female ferret is called a "jill,” while the male is called a "hob." Babies are "kits."

Physiology: The gestation period of ferrets is 42 to 44 days (average, 42 days). The average litter size is 8 (range, 2-17). Kits are born deaf, with their eyes closed. Their eyes open and they begin to hear between 3 and 5 weeks of age. Their deciduous ("temporary") teeth begin to erupt at 2 weeks of age, at which time they begin to eat solid food. Kits generally are weaned onto commercial kitten chow at around 8 weeks of age. Kits reach their adult weight at 4 months of age. Males are typically twice the size of females, but both sexes undergo periodic weight fluctuations. It is not uncommon for the average ferret to add 30-40% of its body weight in fat deposited beneath the skin in the fall, and lose this fat the following spring. The average lifespan of ferrets is 9-10 years.

In this section we will provide you with some basic information about caring for ferrets, including information covering their diets and feeding, general health information, and information concerning common types of ferret medical problems and diseases..