Life

Ferret, Little Agile

The Ferret

Ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) are domesticated mammals. Ferrets are sexually dimorphic predators with males substantially larger than females. Farrets generally have brown, black, white, or mixed feathers. They also have an average length of 20 inches (51 cm) including an inch of 5 (13 cm) tail, weigh about 1.5-4 pounds (0.7-2 kg), and have a natural lifespan of 7 to 10 years.

Several other small, elongated carnivorous mammals belonging to the family Mustelidae also have the word ferret in common terms, including an endangered species, the black-footed Ferret. The ferret is relatively very close, but it remains unclear whether it is a domesticated form of the European Polecat, the Steppe Polecat, or a hybrid of the two.

The history of ferret domestication is not as certain, as most other domestic animals, but it is possible that ferrets have been domesticated for at least 2,500 years. They are still used to hunt rabbits in some parts of the world today, but increasingly they remain just as pets.

Being so closely related to the kuscus, ferrets can quite easily hybridize with them, and this sometimes results in wild colonies of hybrid ferrets that have been thought to have caused damage to native fauna, perhaps especially in New Zealand. As a result, some parts of the world have imposed restrictions on keeping from ferrets.

Ferret, Little Nan Agile
The Ferret

Ferrets have long, slender bodies covered with brown, black, white, or mixed fur. The average length is 20 inches including a 5-inch tail. They weigh 1.5 to 4 kg, with males substantially larger than females. Pregnancy is 42 days, stretchers are usually 3 to 7 young, but sometimes more. Women may have two to three liters per year. Young are weaned after 3 to 6 weeks and become independent at 3 months. Sexual maturity may come at 6 months. The average life span is 8 years.

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