Upon deciding to buy a pet ferret, I was perplexed on which breed I should get. This article contains all my research on the subject.
So, which ferret breed is the best? Ferrets do not have different breeds but can be categorized into more than 20 types based on color, size, and types of coat. As they are one breed, they generally do not vary in their habits, but some types like Albino, Blaze, and Panda are more prone to deafness than others.
In this article, we will dive into detail on all the different types of ferrets and their characteristics which would help you decide on which type to buy.
Ferret types are usually divided based on color and can have a mixture of two or more hues in their fur. Some of these types are:
- Black Sable
- Black Sable Mitts
- Regular Sable
- Regular Sable Mitts
- Chocolate Mitts
- Cinnamon Mitts
- Heavy Silver or Pewter
- Light pattern
- Medium pattern
- Siamese Mitts
- Striped White
- Dark-eyed White (DEW)
I highly recommend you watch this video to know more…
Ferrets can also be categorized in terms of size as well as the length of hair on their bodies. This variety makes the selection even more interesting, yet difficult. Keep in mind that since ferrets only have a single breed, that’s why they are simultaneously a different type according to color, size, and hair length. Without further ado, let’s jump into each type and discuss it in detail.
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Types of ferrets based on color:
Ferrets come in a variety of different colors and shades which makes this beautiful animal even more interesting. These colors include black, white, chocolate brown, light brown, golden, and silver, among others. A few famous types are listed below.
Albinism is a recessive trait found in mammals that fail to produce any pigments in their bodies. It means that they are essentially white all over. Albino ferrets have a solid white coat with pink to red eyes and a cute pink nose. They are the lightest type of ferrets and are more prone to deafness than the regular ferret, yet they are highly adaptive and tend to learn how to live with this handicap easily. (This article contains a section on how to tell if your ferret is deaf and mentions some care techniques if it is.) Often, they are used as therapy pets for the elderly and children. Albino ferrets are usually energetic in the morning and like to take naps in the afternoon.
These ferrets are deep black in color and have a white or creamy undercoat, which is the fur on their lower side. Ferrets also have guard hairs of varying colors that secrete oil and keep the fur smooth. In this case, the guard hairs are blackish brown in color. This type has a hood-like mark on its head that seems to descend down to its nose. Black Sables are known to have Black or dark brown eyes and a nose that usually matches the same shade.
Black Sable Mitts:
This type is essentially the same as Black Sable, except that their feet are white instead of blackish brown. This gives them an appearance as if they are wearing mitts, hence the name. These mitts are usually present from the toes up till two-thirds of their feet as if they were wearing cute little boots! They have genuinely black guard hairs and a white bib on their chest. The color of their eyes and nose is usually black.
This counts for one catchy name, doesn’t it! The blaze ferrets get their name from the line of white fur that moves down their head, over their back, and often descends into their furry little tail. This “blaze” often traces the backbone of the animal. Blaze ferrets have a coat of varied colors (almost all ferret colors except white.) They also have a white stripe running from their eyes to the neck. This type supports a chest of white hair that is known as its bib and has mitts as well. Often, you’ll find color rings around their eyes which adds to their cuteness and makes them irresistible! Unfortunately, Blaze ferrets have a 75% deafness ratio due to Waardenburg Syndrome.
The name says it all; this one is literally a party animal! On a serious note, the name “Champagne” ferret comes from its milky chocolate brown color deriving from its guard hairs. This type is extraordinarily cute due to its attractive color that factors into its high sales as a pet. It has a white or slightly golden undercoat, with pink eyes and a rather beige outline. One can also find a hint of color rings around its eyes which give them a cute and harmless look.
Chocolate ferrets might sound like a delicacy, but it is actually a common type of ferret. It is almost the same as sable except it has dark brown legs and tail. This dark brown chocolaty color derives this type name as “Chocolate.” They have dark brown guard hairs and a contrasting undercoat with a cream or wheat color. Their eyes are fascinatingly deep with a black color that looks ruby-red at times. Chocolate ferrets have a nose which can be any shade from brown to pink.
This type of ferret is the same as “Chocolate” but have mitts on all four limbs. If you think mitts are cute, then you might want to prefer this type over the simple “Chocolate”, which, in itself, is a super cute option as well!
By now, you must have guessed that the ferret-naming committee is obsessed with food and the names of these animals highlight this interest of theirs! Cinnamon is actually the rarest type of ferret so finding one would be a hard task, and buying it could mean that your pocket gets significantly lighter after the purchase.
Cinnamon ferrets have reddish brown guard hairs and their tail and legs stand out darker than rest of the animal. They have a cinnamon-colored mask and eyes with a burgundy hue (some of them can have black eyes as well.) Their nose is usually pink in color and has a brick-colored outline.
The Cinnamon Mitts are the same as Cinnamon but have mitts present on all feet. Finding a Cinnamon Mitt might be an even harder task, so good luck if you’re willing to try!
This type is named so due to their resemblance with the Dalmatian dog breed. They are mostly white (though other colors might rarely be present) with dark-ruby or black colored eyes. Black spots can be found scattered all over the animal’s fur or hair. The face supports a cute pink nose as well. If you’re a fan of the Dalmatian dog breed, then this type of ferret might interest you more than others.
Heavy Silver or Pewter:
This type has a rather fascinating appearance as it stands out in the group of other ferret types. Heavy Silver ferrets have a grey “gunmetal” base with scattered black hair. Their masks seem like a smeared spot under the eyes. The pewter has a pink nose which may contain black spots scattered all over it.
The name of this type can be rather misleading, but the panda ferret doesn’t really look that much like a panda except that it has colored circles around its eyes. The panda ferret has a peculiar saddle shape with a meaty hump right in the center of its body. It has a white hue spread across its head and shoulders while the rest of the body can have any color except white. A white bib covers the underside of its body completely. Mitts are present on all four limbs and a pink nose can be found in most cases. The tail of panda ferrets has a white tip as if it was an after-thought of the creator.
The panda ferret usually has a stronger concentration of color around its shoulders and hips and can have speckles scattered across its belly. Unfortunately, 75%of panda ferrets are deaf due to Waardenburg Syndrome (same as the Blaze.)
The Regular Sable is the most common type of ferret that one can find. It has a dark coat which is solid on the hind legs. Its undercoat is cream colored, dark or golden. Warm and deep colored undercoat can be found. It has a black mottled nose with eyes which can be any shade between dark brown and black.
Regular Sable Mitts:
They are the same as Regular Sable with an added trait of having mitts.
The Siamese ferret takes its name from the infamous cat breed and has an appearance quite similar to it as well. It is usually a standard Chocolate, Cinnamon, or a Sable ferret with limbs that stand out with a darker coat than rest of the body. Their face has a mask of dark hairs that form a V-shape. The lower side of a Siamese ferret is darker in color as compared to the rest of the animal.
The Striped White type has a white overall coat with a dark line running down the back of the animal. (“Blaze” had a white line!) This line of dark hair usually traces the backbone of the animal and often descends into the tail of the ferret. They often have a pink or black nose and eyes varying from a dark ruby to pink shade.
Dark-eyed White (DEW):
The Dark-eyed White or DEW ferrets look quite similar to Albino ferrets but do not have any disability of pigmentation in the body. They are overall white but have extremely black eyes that make for a beautiful and mesmerizing combination. Sometimes, a few dark hairs can be found in the backbone region of the animal. DEWs have a black or pink nose and are also more prone to deafness than others.
Types of ferrets according to shape and size:
Just like ferrets can be categorized into different types depending on their color, they can also be segregated into three broad groups depending on their shape and size.
Remember that a ferret can be classified simultaneously according to its color, size, and hair-length (which we will discuss in the next section.)
The major types of ferrets according to size are:
Whippet: this is the most common size found in the United States. It is smaller than the other types and usually has an elongated head that it likes to poke around anywhere it can fit.
Standard: the standard-sized ferret is found most commonly and originates from Europe. This is the type that was initially used for hunting rabbits; one of the major reasons behind the domestication of this animal thousands of years ago.
Bulldog: this is the big guy with a puffy chest and a wide head. You might imagine it to be hitting the gym, but it doesn’t. Often, its legs are quite short, supporting its otherwise big body. The bulldog ferret is most common in Northern Europe.
Types of ferrets according to coat/hair-length:
We have already discussed the classification of ferrets according to color and size. Now, we discuss their segregation according to the length of their hair.
There are 3 broad types of ferret according to hair-length. These are:
Short or mid-length: this is the most common type of ferret in terms of the coat. It is historically narrated that many people kept the hair of their pet ferrets short so that it wouldn’t hinder them in hunting rabbits.
Longhair: this type has longer hair which makes them look more fluffy and cuter than the regular ferret.
Angora: there is a lot of debate as to whether the long-hair and angora ferret are two names for the same type of ferret. If you ask me, then I would claim that there are actually two different categories of the animal. Angora ferrets are actually a type created through genetic mutation of the regular ferrets. Often, there is no undercoat present in this animal. The hair-length is reported to often between 2 to 4 inches.
As it is a genetic mutation, health risks are often present with this type. Jill (female ferrets) angoras often do not produce enough milk for their kits to survive on.
Regardless, many breeders have taken up the raising of this type of ferrets and they seem to be making good sales. If you want one, I’d advise that you take into consideration any health issues that the ferret might tackle along the way and devise a strategy to curtail the issues.
How can I determine if my ferret is deaf?
Deafness is a slightly common disability in ferrets, but it can be hard to tell since most of the ferrets have shorter spans of attention while many never learn to respond to their names despite not being deaf at all.
Despite their being extremely adaptive animals that easily learn to live with deafness, it is important for you to learn whether or not they are deaf as it can be a life-saver in emergency situations.
An example of this could be if you let your ferret outside and it is being chased by a bigger animal. In this case, if itis deaf, it would react quite slowly to this alarming situation and might stand a lesser chance at escaping.
A simple for checking whether or not your ferret is suffering from deafness is to quietly hold a bunch of keys behind the animal. Make sure that it can’t see you or the keys and start jingling the bunch softly enough that it is audible but not unpleasant for the animal that might get a heartache from this suddenness.
If your ferret turns around to see where the sound is coming from, then it can surely hear it.
You might have to try this a few times before establishing whether your ferret really is deaf since a lot of times, they are too busy to even care about what you’re doing!
How to care for a deaf ferret?
If your ferret is patient, you need to be a lot more patient with it as compared to a healthy one. Many people often get frustrated when their ferret doesn’t respond to their voice or when they repeatedly try teaching the ferret its name and it doesn’t seem to register it at all.
Give your ferret some time to learn how to live with this problem. Always make sure you hold it from the front and not cause it to fret by coming suddenly from behind. Use touch and tactile stimuli as much as you can to communicate.
If you wish to train it, try using hand gestures and touch to make it learn what you want it to. All of this will come with time so make sure that you are patient and loving with your ferret and show utmost faith in its ability to function normally.
How many colors of ferrets are there? The American FerretAssociation identifies 8 colors of ferrets. All 8 of these are discussed in this article. These are Albino, Black, Black Sable, Champagne, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Dark-Eyed White, and Sable. This myriad of colors allows for a great diversity in options if you wish to buy a pet ferret.
What are black-footed ferrets? The black-footed ferret is an endangered type of this animal and is the only one which is native to North-America. These ferrets were brought close to extinction in the 20th century when their habitats were destroyed and widespread diseases struck the population. As the name suggests, they have black feet in contrast to their tan body. It was reported in 1986 that only 18 black-footed ferrets remained in the world and all of them were kept in captivity. The population is slowly making its come back now and has reached a number which is somewhere in the hundreds.
Do ferrets see all colors? Ferrets don’t really have a strong vision and can only see the color red. Rest of all the colors appear to them as varying shades of grey. Chances are that if you’re standing still, your ferret might not be able to see you but detect your presence once you start moving. Ferrets also do not have a great sense of depth and can often just walk off the edge of a table or window sill. It’s better to ferret proof your house a bit if you wish to buy one.
Written By Khalil