Are Ferrets Weasels? Explained

No, ferrets are not weasels, although they are closely related. Both ferrets and weasels belong to the Mustelidae family, which includes a variety of similar carnivorous mammals such as otters, badgers, and minks. Ferrets and weasels share several similarities, such as their long, slender bodies and sharp teeth. However, they are distinct species.

The primary difference between the two lies in their classification. Ferrets are a domesticated subspecies of the European polecat (Mustela putorius) and are commonly referred to as Mustela putorius furo. On the other hand, weasels comprise several species within the Mustela genus, such as the European weasel (Mustela nivalis) and the least weasel (Mustela nivalis), typically wild animals.

Differences between Ferrets and Weasels

Physical Differences

Ferrets and weasels are both members of the Mustelidae family, but they have some distinct physical differences. Ferrets are larger and have a more robust body structure than weasels. They have a short, stocky build and typically weigh between 1.5 to 4 pounds. On the other hand, weasels are much smaller and more slender, weighing only around 0.1 to 0.4 pounds.

Another physical difference between ferrets and weasels is their fur coloration. Ferrets are bred in various colors, including albino, sable, and black. On the other hand, weasels have brown coats with white underbelly and black-tipped tails.

Behavioral Differences

In terms of behavior, ferrets, and weasels also have some notable differences. Ferrets are social animals and enjoy being around people and other ferrets. They are playful and curious, often engaging in digging, climbing, and exploring.

On the other hand, weasels are solitary animals and prefer to live alone. They are also more aggressive than ferrets and are known for their hunting prowess. Weasels are skilled predators and often hunt small mammals and birds.

While ferrets and weasels are members of the Mustelidae family, they have distinct physical and behavioral differences that set them apart.

Similarities between Ferrets and Weasels


Ferrets and weasels are members of the Mustelidae family and share many similarities in their habitat. They are found in various environments, including forests, grasslands, and wetlands. They are also found in rural and urban areas and are often kept as pets.


Both ferrets and weasels are carnivores, and their diet consists primarily of small mammals, such as rodents, rabbits, and birds. They also eat eggs, insects, and other small prey.

In terms of hunting, both ferrets and weasels are skilled predators. Their long, slender bodies allow them to move quickly and easily through narrow spaces, making them excellent at catching prey in caves and other tight spaces.

While there are some differences between ferrets and weasels, they share many similarities in their habitat and diet. They are both fascinating creatures that have adapted to various environments and developed unique hunting strategies to survive in the wild.

Legal Status and Ownership

Ferrets have a complicated legal status in many countries, including the United States. They are often classified as exotic pets, meaning they are not considered domesticated animals and may be subject to different laws and regulations than traditional pets like cats and dogs.

In some states, such as California, owning a ferret as a pet is illegal. However, in other states like New York and Texas, ferret ownership is legal with some restrictions. Potential ferret owners need to research the laws in their state and obtain any necessary permits or licenses before bringing a ferret home.

One of the arguments against ferret ownership is that they are wild animals and should not be kept as pets. However, ferret supporters argue that domesticated ferrets are not the same as their wild counterparts and have been bred for centuries to be companion animals.

Despite the controversy surrounding ferret ownership, many enjoy keeping these playful and affectionate animals as pets. Owners must provide their ferrets with proper care and attention, including regular veterinary check-ups, a healthy diet, and plenty of opportunities for play and exercise.

The legal status and ownership of ferrets vary by location, and potential owners must research their area’s laws before bringing a ferret home. While there are arguments for and against ferret ownership, many people find these animals to be loving and entertaining pets when provided with proper care and attention.