Animals

European Ferret

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European Ferret Info

Mustela putorius furo

Our European Ferret is not on exhibit in the habitats. It is one of our Animal Ambassadors and is used in public and school programs.

European Ferret History at CuriOdyssey

The youngest ferret resident was first brought to the Humane Society as a “lost” ferret, and was born in 2014. Two of the ferrets were former illegal pets and were born in 2012.

Fun Facts about European Ferret

The European ferret is the domestic version of the European polecat. Research has shown that ferrets were bred in captivity and kept as companion animals for many years.

They were also used for rodent control and rabbit hunting. Ferrets were first depicted in Egyptian artwork dating back to 1400-1200 BCE. Augustus Caesar sent ferrets to the Balearic Islands to control the “plague of rabbits” in 6 BCE.

The ferret’s usefulness in rabbit hunting (ferreting) was spread throughout Europe by the Romans, who used ferreting as a way to keep their infantry busy and well fed.

What do European Ferrets eat?

In the wild, European Ferrets eat small rodents, rabbits, birds, insects, lizards, frogs, fruits, and roots. At CuriOdyssey, we serve our Ferrets cat kibble, mice, rats, beef, rabbit, chick, quail, insects, shrimp, and hard boiled egg.

How long do European Ferrets live?

European Ferrets five to six years in the wild. In captivity their average life span is seven years, but life spans of up to 12 years has been reported.

Where do European Ferrets live?

European Ferrets live in forests, mountains, farmlands, semi-desert, steppe, and tundra. They range from Europe (not Ireland or Northern Scandinavia), Western Asia, and North Africa.

Are European Ferrets endangered?

No special status. However, the European ferret’s close relative, the black-footed ferret, is very endangered. The black-footed ferret is native to the central United States. It has become an endangered species because cities and ranches have taken over the range of its main prey, the prairie dog.

European ferrets are illegal to have as pets in California because if they escape from captivity and survive as feral animals they would compete with native wildlife for food and shelter.