Is Ferret A Rodent? Know The Real Info!

Ferrets are kept as pets for decades upon decades. However, there is still confusion: is ferret a rodent?

The classification of ferrets as rodents is a common misconception. Though they have some similarities in appearance to rodents, such as their small size and elongated body shape, ferrets are actually members of the Mustelidae family. This family includes other carnivorous mammals such as weasels, otters, and badgers.

Is Ferret A Rodent?

Is Ferret A Rodent

So, it’s true that ferrets are not rodents. They belong to the subfamily Mustelinae, which is specifically composed of small to medium-sized mustelids.

Weasels, skunks, badgers, wolverines, black-footed ferrets, etc. are members of the same group. They have many similarities.

Ferrets have been domesticated for over 2000 years and have a long history of domestication. They used to be kept as pets and their existence is still in many Egyptian burial sites.

Weasels are closer to ferrets. Though weasels carry differences, ferrets are more adoptable as pets. Weasels are more aggressive than ferrets and that’s why they are not often seen as pets.

Rodents are a specific order of mammals that include mice, rats, squirrels, and beavers, among others. They have a wide range of habitats and play important ecological roles in various ecosystems.

Although ferrets somehow look like rodents, they are not mammals. Ferrets come from a different family.

Why Do People Call Ferrets A Rodent?

The confusion between ferrets and rodents is a common occurrence that often leaves people puzzled. Despite their distinct differences, many individuals mistakenly associate ferrets with rodents.

Ferrets are small domesticated carnivores. They belong to the same family as minks and otters. They have unique physical features, including a long and slender body, a small head, and a long tail.

In contrast, rodents belong to the order Rodentia and encompass a vast group of animals that include rats, mice, hamsters, and squirrels. They are mostly herbivorous, but some may also consume insects or small vertebrates.

There are several reasons why ferrets and rodents are confused. Firstly, both animals are small and have similar body proportions, which can lead to visual similarities.

Both ferrets and rodents are often kept as pets which contributes to confusion among those who are not familiar with their characteristics.

Another reason for the mix-up is the historical association between ferrets and rodents. Centuries ago, ferrets were used for pest control, particularly for hunting rodents. This practical utilization may have led to a misconception that ferrets are closely related to rodents, despite their fundamental biological differences.

The confusion between ferrets and rodents may persist, but they are different animals with distinct biological characteristics.

What Are Ferrets Related to?

Ferrets are small carnivorous mammals. Within the Mustelidae family, ferrets are classified under the genus Mustela and the species Mustela putorius furo.

Ferrets are related to other mustelids, including the European polecat and the black-footed ferret, which are their closest wild relatives.

Ferrets were originally domesticated from the European polecat, which is native to Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia. Over time, selective breeding has resulted in the modern domestic ferret, which comes in a variety of colors and patterns.

Despite their domestication, ferrets retain many of their wild relatives’ characteristics. They have a sleek body, short legs, and a long, flexible spine that allows them to navigate tight spaces. Ferrets also have sharp teeth and claws, which they use for hunting and climbing.

Ferrets are closely related to animals such as weasels, otters, and badgers. They have been domesticated from the European polecat and have retained many physical and behavioral traits of their wild relatives.

Differences Between Ferrets And Rodents

Ferret Vs Rodent

Ferrets and rodents may look similar at first glance, as both have smooth, fuzzy coats all over the body. However, upon closer examination, there are several key differences between these two types of animals. Such as:

  • Teeth

Ferrets have sharp, pointed canines and premolars in their upper and lower jaws. Their teeth are used for biting, defense, burrowing, and tearing their prey.

On the other hand, all rodents have prominent incisors that continuously grow throughout their lives, allowing them to constantly gnaw on objects to keep their teeth at a manageable length. Their teeth specialized in incisors for gnawing and grinding.

  • Appearance

In terms of appearance, ferrets have a sleek and elongated body with a short coat that comes in a variety of colors. They possess a distinctive face with a short snout, almond-shaped eyes, and rounded ears.

In contrast, rodents have a more compact body shape, covered in fur that is typically brown or gray. Their faces are characterized by a longer snout, small eyes, and rounded or pointed ears depending on the species.

  • Smell

Scent is another differentiating factor between ferrets and rodents. Ferrets have musk glands, which produce a distinct odor that can be quite strong, especially in unneutered males. Conversely, rodents do not possess musk glands and are generally odorless.

  • Behavior

When considering behavior, ferrets are known for their playful and energetic nature. They are highly social animals that require interaction and stimulation. Ferrets are also known to be curious and have a knack for exploring their environment.

On the other hand, rodents exhibit different behaviors depending on the species. While some rodents, such as hamsters, prefer a solitary lifestyle, others, like guinea pigs, thrive in social groups.

  • Lifespan

Lifespan differs between ferrets and rodents. Ferrets generally have a lifespan of 6 to 10 years, although some have been known to live longer with proper care.

In contrast, rodents have a shorter lifespan, with some species living only 1 to 2 years, while others can survive for up to 6 years.

  • Ecology

In terms of behavior and ecology, ferrets are also quite distinct from rodents. Ferrets are highly social animals and are known for their playful, curious nature. In the wild, ferrets are skilled hunters and have a diet that primarily consists of small mammals, birds, and eggs.

On the other side, rodents are prey. They used to run away and hide which is their best defense mechanism.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is a ferret a marsupial?

No, a ferret is not a marsupial. Marsupials are a distinct group of mammals. After giving birth the kits, they develop further in a female’s pouch.

On the other hand, Ferrets are placental mammals, meaning their young develop fully in the womb before birth, without the need for a pouch.

What is the closest animal to a ferret?

The ferret’s closest relatives in the animal kingdom are other members of the Mustelidae family, which includes species like weasels, minks, and polecats. Among these, the European polecat is considered one of the closest wild relatives to the domestic ferret.

Are Ferrets Related to Cats or Dogs?

Ferrets are more closely related to dogs than cats when considering domestication.

They are playful and social like cats and dogs. Ferrets are related to their similar appetite for meat. However, ferrets differ from both cats and dogs in their own unique adaptations and behaviors.


Ferrets and rodents may share a few similarities, but there are notable differences in biological characteristics.

Ferrets are not rodents but are instead part of the weasel family. They are unique creatures with unique characteristics that set them apart from rodents.