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Weasel vs. Ferret: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 3, 2023
Weasels are small, wild carnivores with long bodies, while ferrets are domesticated forms of European polecats, often kept as pets.

Key Differences

The Weasel and the Ferret are both small carnivorous mammals known for their long, slender bodies and short legs. While both belong to the Mustelidae family, they have distinguishing features and differing natural habitats. Weasels can be found in the wild, spanning various regions and displaying a variety of subspecies characteristics. In contrast, Ferrets are not wild creatures but are domesticated and are often kept as pets.
Interestingly, Weasels are known to be voracious hunters, hunting even when they are not hungry and storing leftover food for later. Their prey mainly includes rats and birds, and they have a reputation for being clever and sneaky. On the flip side, Ferrets, due to their domestication, have a slightly different demeanor. They are playful, curious, and, while they retain their hunting instincts, are not as aggressive or wild as their weasel counterparts.
In terms of physical appearance, Weasels often have a reddish, brown, or white coat, depending on the specific species and region. Ferrets typically have a more uniform appearance, characterized by a brown coat with white facial markings, although breeding has introduced various patterns and color variations. Weasels are often smaller than Ferrets, with a more elongated body and a characteristically short tail.
Habitat and distribution of Weasels and Ferrets are also noteworthy distinctions. Weasels can be found across the world, from North America, Europe, to Asia, adapting to various environments such as forests, fields, and marshes. In stark contrast, Ferrets, being domesticated animals, are usually found in human homes or farms, and require a controlled environment to thrive.
Historically, both Weasels and Ferrets have been noted in various cultural contexts. Weasels often pop up in literature and folklore, sometimes symbolizing cunning and slyness. Ferrets, however, have been utilized by humans for various purposes including hunting rabbits, owing to their adeptness at navigating burrows, and in recent times, have become beloved pets for many.

Comparison Chart




Various natural environments
Human homes or farms

Size and Shape

Smaller, elongated body
Larger, with a robust build

Coat Color

Varies: brown, white, reddish
Brown, with varied patterns

Hunting Behavior

Voracious hunters
Retain hunting instincts

Weasel and Ferret Definitions


A small, slender carnivorous mammal.
The Weasel darted through the underbrush in pursuit of a mouse.


A domesticated mammal related to the European polecat.
The Ferret curiously explored every corner of its new home.


Can be found in various global regions.
The Weasel is a common sight in both North American and European woodlands.


Used historically for hunting rabbits.
Farmers utilized the Ferret's skill to control rabbit populations in the fields.


A symbol of cunning in folklore.
In the story, the Weasel outsmarted all the other animals.


Requires a controlled, safe environment to thrive.
Ensure your Ferret has a comfortable cage and play area for healthy living.


Often has a reddish or brown coat.
The Weasel's reddish-brown coat helped it blend into the autumn foliage.


Often kept as a pet.
She adopted a Ferret because she admired their playful and curious nature.


Known for a long body and short legs.
The little Weasel looked almost like a furry snake as it moved through the grass.


Has a brown coat with white facial features.
The Ferret's white face contrasted sharply with its dark body.


Any of various carnivorous mammals of the genus Mustela, having a long slender body, a long tail, short legs, and brownish fur that in many species turns white in winter.


A domesticated mustelid mammal (Mustela furo syn. Mustela putorius subsp. furo) with an elongated flexible body, often kept as a pet and sometimes trained to hunt rats or rabbits.


A person regarded as sneaky or treacherous.


A black-footed ferret.


To be evasive; equivocate.


A narrow piece of tape used to bind or edge fabric.


The least weasel, Mustela nivalis.


To hunt (rabbits, for example) with ferrets.


Can Ferrets be kept as pets?

Yes, Ferrets are often kept as pets due to their playful nature.

What is a notable physical feature of the Weasel?

The Weasel has a notably long and slender body.

Are Ferrets wild animals?

No, Ferrets are domesticated animals.

What family do Weasels belong to?

Weasels belong to the Mustelidae family.

Do Weasels have different coat colors?

Yes, Weasels can have brown, reddish, or white coats.

What should be included in a Ferret’s diet?

Ferrets need a high-protein diet, typically fed through high-quality ferret food, and occasional treats like eggs or meat.

Where can Weasels be found?

Weasels can be found in various regions including North America, Europe, and Asia.

Do Ferrets have a natural habitat?

No, Ferrets do not have a natural habitat as they are domesticated.

Are Weasels kept as pets?

Weasels are typically not kept as pets due to their wild nature.

What do Ferrets eat?

Ferrets typically eat a diet of prepared ferret food, which is often meat-based.

Are Weasels nocturnal?

Weasels can be active both day and night, depending on the availability of prey.

Can you train a Ferret?

Yes, Ferrets can be trained to use a litter box and even do simple tricks.

How much space does a Ferret need for living?

Ferrets need ample space to move, explore, and play, so a large, multi-level cage and safe play area are ideal.

Do Weasels hibernate?

Weasels do not hibernate but may be less active during winter.

How long do Weasels live?

Weasels typically live up to 3 years in the wild.

Do Ferrets get along with other pets?

Ferrets can get along with other pets but should be monitored as they can be playful and sometimes a bit nippy.

What do Weasels eat?

Weasels primarily eat small mammals, such as rodents and rabbits.

How long do Ferrets typically live?

Ferrets have a lifespan of 7-10 years with proper care.

Can Weasels be dangerous to poultry?

Yes, Weasels can be a threat to poultry due to their hunting nature.

What is a common coat color for Ferrets?

Ferrets commonly have a brown coat with white facial markings.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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