Black-Footed Ferret

Mustela nigripes

Native to North America, the black-footed ferret is a member of the weasel family. This long, slender mammal has pale yellowish or tan colored coat, with lighter hair toward the neck and face. They have short little blacklegs with black feet, a distinctive black “mask” on their face, and a black tipped tail. A very quick, agile carnivore, the black-footed ferret is a nocturnal hunter.

black footed ferret picture

Length 18-24 inches from nose to tail
Weight 1.5-2.5 lbs. Males are slightly larger than females

Life span about 3 years in the wild; up to 9 years in captivity

Diet

The black-footed ferret will eat insects, and small animals such as ground squirrels, mice, and birds. But the largest part of their diet is Prairie dogs.

Population

An estimated 700 black-footed ferrets live in the wild, and another 250 living in captive breeding facilities.

Range

Historically, black-footed ferrets occupied the eastern and southern Rockies, and the Great Plains from southern Canada to northern Mexico. Today, they are found in Arizona, Colorado, Chihuahua, Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota.

Behavior

Black-footed ferrets spend most of their time underground in prairie dog burrows. They use the borrows for shelter and a place to rear their young. Hunting at night, and sleeping during the day, they will occasionally leave their borrows during the day to forage or to bathe in the sun.

Reproduction
Mating Season March-April.
Gestation 41-43 days. Kits are born in May-June.
Litter size 3-6 kits
When kits are born they weigh only as much as a nickel (about 10 grams). They will not open their eyes for at least a month and will remain under ground for 2 months before venturing out of the borrow with their mother.