Are Ferrets Rodents? [Understanding the Differences]


Are you looking to expand your furry family and considering a feisty ferret as your new companion? One common question that often gets asked is – “Are ferrets rodents?”.

This question, however, isn’t as straightforward as it seems. It dives into the deep pool of animal classification and taxonomy. But fret not, we’ve got you covered!

In this post, we’ll unearth the truth about our fuzzy friends, ferrets, and whether they fall into the rodent family.

Quick Answer: Are Ferrets Rodents?

In short, no, ferrets are not rodents. They are actually a part of the Mustelidae family, which includes weasels, otters, and badgers. This makes them part of the order Carnivora, rather than Rodentia.

While rodents and ferrets share some characteristics, there are crucial differences in their classifications, diets, and behaviors.

So, next time when someone asks you, “Are ferrets rodents?” you can confidently answer that they aren’t. They’re much closer to a weasel or an otter than to a rat or a mouse.

What Are Ferrets? A Brief Overview

Ferrets, known for their playful personalities and curious nature, are captivating creatures that belong to the Mustelidae family.

Mustelids are a diverse group of mammals that also include weasels, otters, and badgers. Classified under the order Carnivora, ferrets are obligate carnivores, which means their diet consists exclusively of meat.

Ferrets are small-sized mammals with an average length of about 20 inches (51 centimeters) and weight anywhere between 1.5 to 4.5 pounds (0.68 to 2.04 kilograms).

They are known for their elongated bodies, short legs, and sharp teeth, which are adapted for their carnivorous diet.

Their thick, soft fur, which can be a variety of colors including brown, black, white, or mixed, gives them a cute and cuddly appearance. But don’t be fooled! They are energetic animals, known for their mischievous and inquisitive behaviors.

Despite some physical similarities with rodents, ferrets exhibit significant differences in behavior, diet, and genetic makeup. With their distinct traits and unique characteristics, ferrets make for interesting and lively pets.

Fun Fact: Coconut oil can be used as a homemade remedy for dry skin in ferrets. Applying a small amount to dry areas can provide relief. Consult a veterinarian if the issue persists.

Ferrets vs Rodents: The Differences

Now that we’ve established that ferrets are not rodents, let’s delve into the main differences between these two groups of animals. While both can make for endearing pets, there are quite a few fundamental distinctions to consider.

Firstly, classification. Ferrets belong to the order Carnivora, and specifically to the family Mustelidae, which also includes species like weasels, otters, and badgers.

Rodents, on the other hand, fall into the order Rodentia, which encompasses a wide variety of species from rats and mice to squirrels and capybaras.

Secondly, their dietary habits differ significantly. Ferrets are obligate carnivores, meaning their diet is strictly meat-based.

Rodents, on the other hand, are typically omnivores (like rats) or herbivores (like guinea pigs), feasting on a combination of plant material, seeds, fruits, and in some cases, insects and meat.

Finally, physical characteristics also set these creatures apart. Ferrets have a long, slender body and short legs, a design perfect for burrowing and getting into small holes.

Rodents have a more varied range of body shapes and sizes, but most have a compact body with a tail that’s about as long as the body itself.

Fun Fact: One of the pros of having a pet ferret is their highly playful and entertaining nature, which can bring joy and laughter to their owners.

Traits Unique to Ferrets

Having explored what sets ferrets apart from rodents, it’s time to dive deeper into the unique characteristics that define these captivating creatures.

Sleep Patterns: Ferrets are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk. They can sleep up to 14 hours a day, earning them a reputation as expert snoozers!

Playful and Curious: Ferrets are known for their lively and playful nature. They love to explore their surroundings and are often seen performing a “weasel war dance”, a series of hops, sideways jumps, and bumping into objects, which is a sign of happiness and excitement.

Teeth and Jaw Strength: Ferrets have 34 teeth, including sharp canine teeth for catching and holding prey. They also have a strong jaw grip which is used for carrying their young and dragging prey.

Life Span: A well-cared-for ferret can live anywhere from 6 to 10 years, although some have been known to live even longer. Regular vet check-ups and a balanced diet can ensure a long, healthy life for your furry friend.

Olfactory Abilities: Ferrets have an excellent sense of smell, which they use to explore their environment, find food, and communicate with each other.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Let’s tackle some common questions about ferrets to deepen our understanding of these fascinating creatures.

Q1: Are ferrets a part of the rat family?

No, ferrets are not part of the rat family. They are part of the Mustelidae family, which includes weasels, otters, and badgers.

Q2: Do ferrets and rodents have similar behaviors?

While ferrets and rodents can both be active and curious, their behaviors can significantly differ. For example, ferrets are carnivorous and have a strong hunting instinct, while rodents are typically omnivores or herbivores and have different dietary behaviors.

Q3: Can ferrets and rodents live together?

In general, it’s not advisable to house ferrets and rodents together. Given the carnivorous nature of ferrets, they could potentially see small rodents as prey.

Q4: Do ferrets have similar health issues as rodents?

While all pets can experience various health issues, ferrets and rodents have different sets of common health concerns due to their distinct genetic makeup and lifestyle. Always consult with a veterinarian for appropriate care and treatment.

Q5: What kind of diet do ferrets have compared to rodents?

Ferrets are obligate carnivores, requiring a diet rich in animal protein. Rodents, on the other hand, are mostly omnivores or herbivores, relying on a varied diet that includes fruits, vegetables, seeds, and grains. Some rodents, like rats, may also consume insects and meat.


So there you have it! Ferrets are not rodents; they are part of the Mustelidae family, making them relatives of weasels, otters, and badgers.

While they share some superficial similarities with rodents, their behavior, dietary needs, and physical characteristics are quite different.

Ferrets, with their playful personalities and curious nature, can make wonderful pets for the right owners. They require a specific diet, plenty of playtime, and regular grooming to keep them healthy and happy.

As with any pet, the key to a fulfilling relationship is understanding their unique needs and traits.

So whether you already have a ferret, are planning to adopt one, or were just curious about these fascinating creatures, we hope this blog post has been informative and helpful.

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