Top 5 Differences Between Black-Footed Ferrets and Pet Ferrets

5. Black-footed ferrets are mostly solitary and pet ferrets can live together in groups. The only time you will see more than one black-footed ferret is during breeding season or litter rearing. Otherwise black-footed ferrets are very territorial and work hard to keep other black-footed ferrets out of their territory. Pet ferrets can be socialized with each other and live together. That’s not to say that they always get along with each other but often you will find them playing and sleeping together. Just make sure the bed is big enough.


4. Black-footed ferrets are mostly nocturnal while pet ferrets can adjust to any schedule. Occasionally you will see a black-footed ferret in the daytime but they are mostly nocturnal. Nighttime is perfect for a black-footed ferret to prey upon a sleeping prairie dog. Pet ferrets typically adjust to the schedule of their owner although some pet ferrets like being active at night too.

3. Black-footed ferrets are wild animals while pet ferrets are domestic and unable to live in the wild. Black-footed ferrets live only on prairie dog colonies thus if you see a ferret in your neighborhood then it is a pet ferret and not a wild black-footed ferret. Pet ferrets simply do not have the skills and instincts to survive in the wild. Never release a pet ferret into the wild, rather turn them in to an appropriate shelter for ferrets. Pet ferrets do not reproduce or survive in the wild and will not develop into a feral colony.

2. Black-footed ferrets are always the same color whereas pet ferrets come in a variety of different colors. Black-footed ferrets are always tan-colored throughout the body with black feet, mask and tail tip. Pet Ferrets tend to have longer fur than black-footed ferrets and can be brown, cinnamon, white, black, gray and even yellow-ish in color. Also, black-footed ferrets always have a black nose whereas most, but not all, pet ferrets have a pink nose.


1. Black-footed ferrets are a different species than pet ferrets. Black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) are the only ferret species native to North America and are wild animals. Pet ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) are descended from European ferrets (Mustela putorius, also sometimes called ‘polecat’) and have been domesticated for more than 2,500 years. They are certainly related but distinctly separate species.

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