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What type of animal is a ferret?

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What Is a Ferret? A ferret (mustela putorius furo) is a small carnivorous mammal, belonging to the weasel family, or mustelidae and is related to the otter, badger, mink and weasel, usually weighing less than 5 pounds. The females (jills) are much smaller than the males (hobs). Ferrets are believed to be a domesticated form of the European polecat ferret (mustela putorius) even before the cat, probably by the Egyptians. They have been used for centuries for rodent extermination and rabbit hunting. (Source: Wikipedia)

A ferret is an obligate carnivore meaning they are a true carnivore that solely depends for survival on the nutrients found in animal flesh.

The ferret is a domestic mammal of the type Mustela putorius furo. Ferrets are sexually dimorphic predators with males being substantially larger than females. They typically have brown, black, white, or mixed fur, have an average length of 20 inches (51 cm) including a 5 inch (13 cm) tail, weigh about 1.5-4 pounds (0.7-2 kg), and have a natural lifespan of 7 to 10 years.

Several other small, elongated carnivorous mammals belonging to the family Mustelidae (weasels) also have the word ferret in their common names, including an endangered species, the Black-footed ferret. The ferret is a very close relative of the polecat, but it is as yet unclear whether it is a domesticated form of the European polecat, the Steppe Polecat, or some hybrid of the two.

The history of the ferret's domestication is uncertain, like that of most other domestic animals, but it is likely that ferrets have been domesticated for at least 2,500 years. They are still used for hunting rabbits in some parts of the world today, but increasingly they are being kept simply as pets.

Being so closely related to polecats, ferrets are quite easily able to hybridize with them, and this has occasionally resulted in feral colonies of ferret polecat hybrids that have been perceived to have caused damage to native fauna, perhaps most notably in New Zealand. As a result, some parts of the world have imposed restrictions on the keeping of ferrets.

The scientific name is Mustela putorius furo, which means weasel-like stinky thief - because they're a member of the weasel family, they have a distinctive odor (especially un-neutered males, in which case the odor can be better described as a pong) and they have a habit of stealing and hording various objects that take their fancy.
Ferrets were domesticated, possibly in Britain, due to their ability to get into tight, restricted places and carnivorous habits. This meant that they could be used to catch rabbits and for vermin control. However, as has been the case with many animals domesticated for these purposes (such as dogs and cats), humans soon developed emotional attachments to the animals and began to keep them as pets - ferrets are now the third most popular pet after cats and dogs in the USA and are becoming more popular in the UK and Europe.
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