SOME FACTS ABOUT FERRETS from the National Ferret Welfare Society

Ferrets are believed to have been introduced into this country by the Romans and for the purpose for which they are used now, that of flushing rabbits from their burrows. At one time managed rabbit warrens were a vital source of meat for the people.

The Ferret belongs to the Mustelidae family; badger, otter, stoat, weasel, mink etc. In North America its' largest relative is the wolverine, followed by the skunk. Like the skunk the polecat has a powerful scent gland that is used for marking territory, this is also prominent feature in our domesticated ferret.

The ferret is the domesticated relation of either the Siberian or the European (Wild) Polecat (Mustela Putorius). The wild polecat occurs throughout Europe, in the British Isles, until recently, it has been confined to Mid and North Wales and remote parts of Scotland, but is now being found further afield, notably in the West Midlands.
Coloured Hybrid jill
Photograph by John Allan

Ferrets may be: Albino (white with pink eyes), Polecat (so called NOT because they are the actual wild polecat, but because of the dark banding around the eyes and nose) and, depending on where you live, Sandy, Fitch or just plain coloured ferrets (a range of shades between polecat and albino), all have been favoured by breeders for their shape, size or markings.

Ferrets should not be thought of as 'wild animals'. They were brought here already domesticated. Ferrets and working with ferrets have become increasingly popular and can offer many hours of rewarding activity. They need not, however, be used for rabbiting as great fun can be enjoyed at the many shows and ferret races held throughout the country during the summer months. Ferrets make very loving pets - don't let anyone tell you differently! But ferrets are carnivores and can't be expected to co-habit with other small mammals although some may.