The word ferret comes from the Latin for "little thief." They are small and nimble, nocturnal hunting animals. Nocturnal means that they sleep most of the day and are most active at night, but when kept as pets, they will usually adapt to their owner's schedule.
There are 2 kinds of ferrets: one from North America, and the other from Europe. The ones from America are a rare and wild, endangered species that live on the prairies. They are called black-footed ferrets. The ones from Europe are more common and are often kept as pets.
Ferrets are carnivores. That means they eat meat and have powerful jaws and razor-sharp teeth. The favorite food of the black-footed ferret is the prairie dog. They catch and eat at least two every week. (Make mine a double, please!)
• April is Adopt a Ferret Month. Kept as pets, these long and skinny (and adorable!) members of the weasel family are also known as polecats.
• When kept as pets, ferrets are usually de-scented because, when frightened, they can spray a strong smell from under their tales – just like skunks!
• Because ferrets have long, lean bodies that can easily get down into the holes of rodents, they have been used for hunting for thousands of years. This type of hunting is also known as ferreting.