7 Considerations When Choosing a Pet Ferret’s Gender [Guide]


In today’s diverse pet landscape, ferrets are becoming increasingly popular, and why wouldn’t they? With their mischievous antics and playful personalities, ferrets create intriguing and lovable pets.

But before you rush off to get your ferret, there’s a question you might be grappling with, Which ferret gender is better? Male or female? It’s a common conundrum faced by potential ferret owners.

While it ultimately comes down to personal preference, differences in size, behavior, and health might influence your decision.

Fun Fact: Ferrets are highly social animals that need daily playtime and human interaction to stay happy. Providing them with stimulating toys and creating a safe play area will improve their overall well-being.

Quick Answer

When considering the gender of a pet ferret, both male (hobs) and female (jills) have their unique traits. Males tend to be larger and more cuddly but can have a stronger odor.

On the other hand, females are generally smaller, energetic, and less smell-prone but may be more aggressive when in heat.

Ultimately, both genders make for wonderful pets; your decision should depend on your preferences and lifestyle.

Understanding Ferrets: A Brief Overview

Ferrets are small carnivorous mammals that are part of the weasel family. Known for their long, slim bodies and curious, playful nature, they have captured the hearts of many pet owners across the globe.

Different from their wild counterparts, domestic ferrets are bred in various colors and patterns, adding to their unique charm.

Both male and female ferrets share common traits, including intelligence, playfulness, and a knack for getting into small spaces. They’re crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk and love to sleep up to 14 hours a day!

Ferrets, regardless of gender, require a diet high in protein, plenty of mental and physical stimulation, and regular health check-ups to keep them in top condition.

A happy, healthy ferret, whether a hob or a jill, can provide years of companionship and joy.

Fun Fact: While some ferrets enjoy swimming and can be good swimmers, not all of them are fond of water activities. It varies based on their individual preferences and experiences.

Choosing a Male or Female Pet Ferret

Here are the seven (7) considerations you should take note of;

Consideration 1: Size and Physical Differences

Male Ferrets (Hobs)

Hobs are generally larger and heavier than jills, often weighing between 2-4 pounds. They have a broader build, giving them a more robust appearance.

Their skin is also thicker, leading to more pronounced scruffing (the act of holding a ferret by the loose skin at the back of its neck) than jills.

Female Ferrets (Jills)

Jills are noticeably smaller than hobs, typically weighing between 0.75-2 pounds. They are more slender and are often more agile due to their lighter body weight. Jills have less skin at the back of the neck, meaning they don’t scruff as much as hobs.

The size and physical differences between the genders might influence your decision based on your lifestyle and personal preference. For example, a hob might be better if you prefer a more robust and cuddly pet.

However, a jill might be more suitable if you prefer a more agile and petite pet.

Consideration 2: Odor Differences

Male Ferrets (Hobs)

One characteristic of ferrets that may be off-putting for some potential owners is their distinct odor. Hobs, in particular, tend to have a stronger odor than jills.

This scent comes from the oil glands in their skin and can be more pronounced in unneutered males. Neutering a male ferret can help reduce this smell to some extent.

Female Ferrets (Jills)

While all ferrets have a natural musky scent, jills generally have a less potent smell than their male counterparts. However, a female ferret can emit a stronger odor during the mating season. Spaying a female ferret can help manage this scent.

Remember, regular grooming, including bathing and cleaning the ears and teeth, can also help control a ferret’s odor, irrespective of their gender.

Consideration 3: Behavioral Differences

Male Ferrets (Hobs)

Hobs are often described as more laid-back and affectionate compared to jills. They tend to be more relaxed, often enjoying longer cuddle sessions with their owners.

However, each ferret is an individual, and while this is a general observation, some hobs may also display high energy levels.

Female Ferrets (Jills)

Jills are known for their energy and agility. They are often more active and playful, making them a great choice if you enjoy interactive playtime with your pet.

However, they may be less interested in cuddling compared to hobs. Again, keep in mind that behavior can vary greatly between individuals.

Consideration 4: Health and Lifespan Differences

Male Ferrets (Hobs)

In terms of health, hobs and jills are susceptible to similar health issues, including adrenal disease, insulinoma, and lymphoma. Hobs may develop testicular tumors if not neutered, but these are usually benign and resolve after neutering.

The average lifespan of a hob is 6-10 years, although this can vary depending on factors like genetics, diet, and overall care.

Female Ferrets (Jills)

If not spayed, jills can develop a life-threatening condition called aplastic anemia if they stay in heat for too long without breeding. Spaying a jill can prevent this condition.

Like hobs, jills are prone to diseases such as adrenal disease and insulinoma. The average lifespan of a jill is similar to that of a hob, ranging between 6-10 years.

Consideration 5: Differences in Cost and Care

Male Ferrets (Hobs)

The cost of caring for a ferret is relatively similar for both genders. However, remember that larger animals tend to eat more, so hobs may require slightly more food than jills.

Also, if you choose not to neuter your hob, you may need to invest in special care products to help manage their stronger odor.

Female Ferrets (Jills)

Jills may eat less due to their smaller size, potentially reducing food costs slightly. However, if you plan on spaying your jill to avoid potential health risks, be prepared to bear the cost of the surgery.

Consideration 6: Breeding Differences

Male Ferrets (Hobs)

If you plan on breeding your ferret, remember that hobs can be quite aggressive during the mating season. They can breed at any time of the year, although the peak season is spring and summer.

Female Ferrets (Jills)

If not spayed, jills go into heat in the spring and stay in heat until they mate or until daylight hours decrease. This extended heat can lead to aplastic anemia, a life-threatening condition, if the jill does not breed.

If you don’t plan on breeding your jill, it is highly recommended to have her spayed.

Consideration 7: Compatibility with Other Pets

Male Ferrets (Hobs)

Hobs can generally get along well with other ferrets, whether male or female. However, it’s important to note that introductions should always be done slowly and under close supervision.

Unneutered hobs may behave aggressively towards other male ferrets, especially during the breeding season.

Female Ferrets (Jills)

Jills can also coexist well with other ferrets. They may be more territorial than hobs, especially with other female ferrets, but this varies greatly.

Like with hobs, any introductions to new ferrets should be done cautiously.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are male or female ferrets friendlier?

Friendliness largely depends on the individual ferret’s personality, not necessarily their gender. However, hobs are often described as more laid-back and affectionate, while jills are known for their energy and agility.

Which gender of ferret is more aggressive?

Both genders can display aggressive behaviors, especially during the breeding season. Unneutered male ferrets (hobs) can be quite aggressive during this period.

Are male ferrets smellier than females?

Yes, male ferrets tend to have a stronger odor than females due to their oil glands. Neutering can help reduce this scent.

What is the best type of ferret to get?

The best type of ferret largely depends on your personal preferences and lifestyle. Considerations such as size, odor, behavior, and cost of care can all factor into this decision.


Choosing between a male or female ferret is a personal decision that depends on various factors, including your lifestyle, personal preferences, and commitment to pet care.

Both genders have their unique characteristics and needs, and they both can make wonderful pets.

The most important thing is providing them with a loving home, a balanced diet, regular veterinary care, and plenty of playtime and stimulation.

Whether you choose a hob or a jill, you’ll gain a playful and affectionate companion who will provide endless entertainment and affection.

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