Fretka, or domestic ferret, — a very mobile and lively animal, and its behavioral needs are not easily met in living conditions such as our living rooms. However, ferrets are becoming more and more popular as pets. It is believed that the ferret is a subspecies of the ferret, and it has the same long body as the ferret and weasel.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Fretka

Photo: Ferret

Frets (Mustela putorius furo) — small carnivorous animals belonging to the marten family. The Romans used ferrets to hunt rabbits. Today they are widely accepted as pets. Handling and hand holding ferrets can be tricky, but most traditional dosing methods are feasible. Fretka — a pet considered native to Europe.

Interesting fact: The ferret's name comes from the Latin word “furonem”, which means thief, no doubt due to their mischievous nature: ferrets are notorious for stealing light or shiny objects and hiding them.

It is believed that the ferret was domesticated about 2,500 years ago, which is about the same time as for other domestic animals such as the donkey and goat. The ferret is used to help farmers track down rabbits, and it does so by crawling into rabbit holes, using its incredibly shaped flexible body to its advantage, as the ferret itself is often smaller than many rabbits. The rabbit is afraid to leave the hole where the ferret has invaded and uses one of the many other exits from the hole to get away from the intruder ferret.

Video: Ferret

Ferrets share many anatomical, metabolic and physiological features with humans. They are used as experimental models in research involving cystic fibrosis, respiratory virological diseases such as sudden acute respiratory syndrome and influenza, lung cancer, endocrinology and neurology (especially neurological changes associated with damage to the brain and spinal cord).

The ability of ferrets to vomit — and their high sensitivity to it — make this species the most widely used animal model in vomiting research, especially for testing potential antiemetic compounds.

Appearance and Features

Photo: What a ferret looks like

Photo: What a ferret looks like

The ferret is a domesticated form of the European ferret, to which it is similar in size and habits, and with which it interbreeds. The ferret is distinguished by yellowish-white (sometimes brown) fur and pinkish-red eyes. It is also slightly smaller than a ferret, averaging 51 cm in length, including a 13 cm tail. Weighs about 1 kg.

Domestic ferrets reach their adult size at the age of one year. A typical female domestic ferret weighs between 0.3 and 1.1 kg. Domestic ferrets show sexual dimorphism. Males can weigh between 0.9 and 2.7 kg, castrated males often weigh less than unaffected males. Domestic ferrets have a long and slender body. Females typically measure 33 to 35.5 cm in length, while males — from 38 to 40.6 cm. The average length of the tail is from 7.6 to 10 cm. Domestic ferrets have large fangs and only 34 teeth. Each paw has a set of five non-retractable claws.

The black-footed ferret is similar in color to the common ferret, but has black eye masks and brownish-black markings on the feet and at the tip of the tail. She weighs a kilogram or less, males are slightly larger than females. Body length is 38-50 cm, tail is 11-15 cm. Domestic ferrets have been bred for a wide variety of fur colors and patterns.

The seven common fur colors are named as follows:

  • sable;
  • silver;
  • black sable;
  • albino;
  • dark-eyed white;
  • cinnamon;
  • chocolate

The most common of these colors is sable. Examples of pattern types are: Siamese or spiky patterned, panda, badger, and flame. Apart from the choice of specific fur colors, domestic ferrets are very similar to their wild ancestors, the European ferrets (Mustela putorius).

Where does the ferret live?

Photo: Domestic ferret

Photo: Domestic ferret

There has been little progress at present in identifying the center of ferret domestication. It is believed that ferrets may have been domesticated from native European ferrets (Mustela putorius). There is information about domestic ferrets in Europe more than 2500 years ago. Currently, domestic ferrets are found around the world in homes as pets. In Europe people sometimes use them for hunting.

The habitat of domestic ferrets was forest and semi-forest habitats near water sources. Domestic ferrets are kept as pets or work animals in human living quarters. Black-footed ferrets live in burrows and eat only dogs as prey and carrion. They were originally found living among populations ranging from southern Canada to the American west and northern Mexico. Since the development of agriculture on the Great Plains has been largely eliminated, ferrets have almost become extinct.

By 1987, the last members of the remaining population of 18 animals were captured from the wild in Wyoming and a captive breeding program was started. From this group, seven females produced cubs that survived to adulthood. Since 1991, more than 2,300 of their descendants have been reintroduced to local residents in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Chihuahua, Mexico.

These reintroduction programs, however, have had mixed results. While Utah, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Kansas host self-sufficient populations, the species was classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as extinct in the wild between 1996 and 2008. After a population reassessment in 2008, the IUCN listed the black-footed ferret as an endangered species.

Now you know how to care for a ferret at home. Let's see what a ferret should be fed.

What does a ferret eat?

Photo: Ferret ferret

Photo: Ferret ferret

Ferrets — small carnivorous mammals and, therefore, the diet of domestic ferrets should consist mainly of meat. In the wild, they mainly hunt mice and small rabbits, and sometimes they may be lucky to catch a small bird.

Domestic ferrets are natural carnivores and require a meat-like diet. Food for domestic ferrets must contain taurine, at least 20% fat and 34% animal protein. They can also be fed raw meat, but this alone is not enough. If they were in the wild, they would get their nutrients from eating all parts of the animal, such as the liver, heart, and other organs. Occasionally, domestic ferrets are fed supplements (vitamins) to meet nutritional requirements that are not met by commercial foods.

Fun fact: The metabolism of the domestic ferret is very high and food will pass through the digestive tract through 3-5 hours. Therefore, a homemade ferret will need to eat about 10 times a day. Domestic ferrets also have an olfactory imprint. What they are fed for the first 6 months of their life is what they will recognize as food in the future.

The ferret needs plenty of fresh water and a diet high in fat and protein. Many ferret owners give them cat or kitten food, which is largely due to the fact that there is simply very little food for ferrets. In any case, avoid fish and fish-flavored fish food, which can create a litter box odor problem, and don't feed your ferret dog food, as this will satiate it without providing some essential nutrients.

Also, do not give the ferret food that people eat, as many foods are toxic or indigestible. Avoid chocolate, caffeine, tobacco products, cola, coffee, tea, ice cream, milk and onions. However, ferrets need variety and will do just about anything for fun, including learning techniques such as sitting, tiptoeing, begging and rolling over. You can reward your pet for the desired behavior, or simply add variety to your ferret's diet with vegetables, fruits, and treats.

Character and Lifestyle Features

Photo: Fretka at home

Photo: Fretka at home conditions

Today, the ferret is becoming an increasingly popular pet around the world, thanks to its small size and calm temperament. A number of countries have laws restricting the use of ferrets to try and prevent them from becoming pests, as ferrets can be quite destructive if released into the wild, especially if they are not native to that country.

Most ferrets spend an average of 18 hours sleeping each day and have been noted to sleep about six hours at a time before waking up to play and eat, and tend to return to their sleep pattern after about an hour or so. Togo. Ferrets are also most active at dusk and dawn, when they are not completely light or dark.

Domestic ferrets are naturally crepuscular, having periods of activity during dawn and dusk. They often change this period of activity depending on when their owner is around to give them attention. Domestic ferrets are playful and finicky. They often interact with other beloved ferrets, cats and dogs in a friendly manner. House ferrets will seek attention. They are naturally inquisitive and will tunnel into or under anything. They can be taught tricks and respond with discipline. House ferrets have a habit of urinating and defecating in the same places and can therefore be taught to use the litter box.

Frets are known for their hide-and-seek game, which is especially noticeable in those kept as pets. While it's not known exactly what the ferret will hide, owners have reported finding caches of everything from toys to remote controls and keys, and even bags of onions and pizza slices.

Frets use different body languages. Some of these behaviors — it's dancing, wrestling and chasing. They will “dance” when they are happy and excited, jumping in all directions. Wrestling — this is a behavior that involves two or more ferrets. They will roll with each other, bite and kick, usually in a playful manner. Stalking involves sneaking up on a toy or other animal in a low position.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Ferret cubs

Photo: Baby Ferrets

Male ferrets will mate with as many females as they have access to. Male ferrets have a hooked penis. After penetrating the female, they cannot be separated until the male is released. Males will also bite the back of the female's neck during mating. Domestic ferrets have a seasonal polyester cycle. Domestic ferrets-males fall into a rut from December to July, females — between March and August. Males are ready to breed when they develop a discolored yellowish undercoat. Increased oil production in the skin glands causes a discoloration of the undercoat.

A female in estrosis is identified by a swollen, pink vulva due to increased estrogen. Females may go into lactation in some cases. Lactational estrus occurs if the litter size is less than 5 pups. Lactational estrus — this is the period when the female returns to estrosis when she is lactating the litter she just had. Healthy domestic ferrets can have up to three successful litters per year and up to 15 pups.

The duration of pregnancy is about 42 days. Young domestic ferrets suffer at birth and need parental care for about 8 weeks. Cubs are born deaf and with closed eyes. Newborns usually weigh between 6 and 12 grams. Children's incisors appear 10 days after birth. The eyes and ears open when they reach 5 weeks. Weaning is performed at the age of 3-6 weeks. At 8 weeks, the cubs have 4 permanent fangs and are capable of eating solid food. This is often the time when breeders give away cubs to new owners. Females reach sexual maturity at 6 months of age.

Natural enemies of ferrets

Photo: What a ferret looks like

Photo: What a ferret looks like

Ferrets are preyed upon by golden eagles and great horned owls, as well as other carnivores such as coyote and badger. The poisons used to control them, especially sodium monofluoroacetate and strychnine, are likely to contribute to death when ferrets eat poisoned animals. In addition, black-footed ferrets are extremely susceptible to many infectious diseases, such as canine distemper. Bubonic plague can severely reduce the population of prairie dogs and thus cause food shortages for black-footed ferrets, but it is not known whether ferrets themselves become infected with the plague.

Domestic ferrets have no natural predators, as they are domesticated. Predators such as hawks, owls, or larger predatory mammals would prey on them if given the opportunity. On the other hand, domestic ferrets can be predators for certain animals. They have been known to kill domestic birds. House ferrets will also prey on rabbits and other small game when used for breeding purposes by their owners. There are also records of ferrets being used to control rodent populations on ships during the American Revolutionary War.

Domestic ferrets do not survive long in the wild. As pets, they can live 6-10 years. There are several diseases and disorders that can shorten the lifespan of domestic ferrets if left untreated.

Some of these diseases and disorders include:

  • distemper;
  • cat distemper;
  • rabies;
  • parasites;
  • bone marrow suppression;
  • insulin;
  • adrenal diseases;
  • diarrhea;
  • colds;
  • flu;
  • ringworm;
  • heat stroke;
  • urinary stones;
  • cardiomyopathy.

Population and species status

Photo: Ferret

Photo: Ferret

Domestic ferrets are not listed in any from the conservation lists, because their population is far from small. On the other hand, domestic ferrets have been used in efforts to create populations of endangered species such as the black-footed ferret. Scientists have recently successfully completed the non-surgical collection and transfer of embryos from domestic ferrets.

This means that they took the embryo from one female and transferred it to another female without surgery. This procedure has resulted in the birth of live young in domestic ferrets. This is important because it can be modified for use in black-footed ferrets.

Fun fact: Ferrets were most likely domesticated by European ferrets (M. putorius furo) over 2,000 years ago. At this time, it is likely that in captivity, both ferrets and ferrets continued to interbreed.

Since house ferrets do not inhabit natural ecosystems, they do not play a role in ecosystems. Ferrets are popular pets. There are ferret breeders and ferret farms that breed ferrets for the pet trade, and many pet stores sell these animals. Ferrets have also been used in research.

Domestic ferrets, if not properly vaccinated or cared for, can carry certain diseases that are transmitted to humans. Domestic ferrets have formed wild populations in some parts of the world and can be a serious pest to native birds and other wildlife.

The ferret is an incredibly social small mammal. Their intelligence is remarkable and you can easily teach them tricks like flipping like a dog. Their intelligence also leads to extreme curiosity, which can sometimes turn into mischief. They are affectionate and attached to their owners, silent most of the day, and there are only a few pets as playful as ferrets.

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