Are Ferrets Considered Rodents?

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At some point in your life, odds are you have either wanted a small rodent or wish to eventually have one, especially if your parents did not allow you this luxury when you were a kid. One of the many small animals you may be considering is a ferret because of how cute and fluffy they are. You may also be diving deep into what ferrets are like and if they are considered rodents or something else. 

Contrary to popular belief, ferrets are not rodents but are a part of the weasel family. More particularly, they come from the Mustelidae background, which includes ermines, polecats, and stoats. Most likely, domesticated ferrets descended from the European polecat 2500 years ago and are used for hunting rabbits and other rodents even to this day. 

We will be going over many topics today, such as what ferrets are considered, the difference between these small animals and rodents, and if you can place a rodent and ferret together. If you wish to get a bunny or something similar, then it is essential to know these things.

What Are Ferrets Considered?

Ferrets come from the Mustelidae family. They are easily mistaken as rodents simply because they look like them. However, they are not. In fact, Mustelids are considered to be Carnivora because they specialize in eating flesh rather than plants. This would make them more closely related to dogs, cats, and bears rather than rats and mice, which they can easily hunt and eat. 

Historically speaking, it is not 100% certain when ferrets were domesticated, but it was roughly 2500 years ago. Ferrets have been used for hunting rabbits and other rodents for many years, and because they have such lean bodies and curious nature, they are perfect for getting down into the holes and chasing the small animals out of their burrows. This is where the term “ferret-out” comes from.  

Back in the 1800s to World War II, ferrets were known for protecting grain stores from rodents as well, and they became popular in the 1980s and ’90s. Their name comes from the Latin word furittus, which means “little thief,” as they like to hide small items away. 

Difference Between a Ferret and Rodent

When it comes to looking at the differences between a ferret and a rodent, there are quite a few ways we can distinctively know. Here is a swift rundown on a compare and contrast between the two: 

FerretsRodents
Strictly carnivoresCan be herbivores or omnivores
HuntersMostly prey
Has anal glands (which leads to a distinctive smell)Does not have have anal glands or super distinctive smell
Contains four types of teeth: incisors, canines, premolars and molarsHas a single pair of sharp teeth in upper and lower jaws (called incisors)
Frame is long and flexible with a sturdy body and short limbsMany contain small, sturdy bodies with short limbs and long tails

This is simply a quick explanation of the two, but let us get down to a better description of each subject. 

Ferrets:

As mentioned above, ferrets are strictly carnivores, meaning they do not eat any plants whatsoever. They may get into plants, as these creatures are very inquisitive but will not eat them. Going back from what we have learned above, they are hunters and not prey, and they contain four types of teeth: incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. 

© Vetbook

Ferrets also contain anal glands, which are primarily believed to be scent marking glands. These glands produce a powerful odor and look like a yellow liquid. When ferrets are scared, they will express it out of themselves but cannot project it into long distances, like a skunk can. 

In terms of their body type, they actually have three kids, which include muscle structure, bone type, and appearance. All of these are called bulldog, greyhound, and whippet ferret body types. 

  • Bulldog body type:
© Friendly Ferret

This type of ferret has a strong and wide-body by how it is made and is much bigger than other ferrets, hence the name. They are made with a round head with a muscular body. Although they look chubby, once they are picked up, you can clearly feel their muscles.

The bulldog-type ferret is easily recognized by their short legs and how they walk closer to the ground. It is essentially like they are sneaking around but are still relatively quick. However, they are not the best jumpers and rely on their strength in the body.  

  • Greyhound body type: 

A greyhound ferret’s body type is much like a greyhound: long, fast, and slender. They are much slimmer than a bulldog ferret but are still relatively strong. When you pick one up, you can still feel their muscles underneath, so it will not give you the idea that they are fragile, despite their looks. 

They make an excellent hunting buddy because of how slim they are, but they are most common in the European areas. In fact, almost everything about them is elongated, so they are definitely not super small in size. 

  • Whippet ferret body type: 

This type of ferret is the slimmest ferret type and is mostly found in the USA. They are incredibly energetic and love to run and jump around. A whippet ferret is very similar to the greyhound ferret in terms of their body structure, but has a slim figure and long body and legs.

The whippet ferret walks around with an arched back, and overall, are much thinner creatures. A whippet ferret can make you believe they are frail, but you can feel their muscles when you pick them up. 

Rodents:

Moving onto the rodent family, they can be either omnivores or herbivores, depending on who you choose. For example, raccoons will eat both meat and plants, whereas beavers will only eat plants. Most of these small creatures are prey, but some hunt prey, like possums. 

Although rodents can grow other teeth in terms of their teeth, they are distinctive by their two front teeth in the upper and lower parts of their mouths, called incisors. These teeth are constantly growing, which is why you see rodents always chewing on something. Chewing on hard items allows them to file their teeth down where they need to be. Otherwise, they would grow way too long!

Another distinction you can tell is their jawbones. They have a more complex jaw structure to help with the constant gnawing. If an animal does not have this combination, then they are not considered rodents. 

Can You Place a Ferret and Rodent Together?

It is not wise to put a ferret and rodent together. This is simply because rodents are prey, and ferrets eat meat, so they would be considered a threat to smaller animals. You should also never place a small rodent and ferret in the same room because then the rodent will easily become stressed as they believe ferrets are a danger to them. 

So what animals are suitable for ferrets to be near? Dogs and cats, of course! My sister has three ferrets within her home, and she mentions that all of her animals will get along very well, so it is a win-win when you have multiple animals that need to be entertained daily, and you are relatively tired that day. 

Final Words

In a nutshell, ferrets are not considered rodents but come from the Mustelidae family. They are very similar to dogs and cats and get along very well with them, but are not suitable to live with rodents.

With that being said, it is your job to decide which ferret type you want to take care of the best, whether it be the bulldog, greyhound, or whippet, but just remember the basics: they are more than just rodents! 

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