Are There Different Types of Ferrets?
There are several different animals that resemble domestic, pet ferrets. Stoats, Polecats, Weasels, Pine Martins, Black-Footed Ferrets all have a long slender body, long tail, long neck, and small, flat triangle-shaped heads with round ears. Black-Footed Ferrets (Mustela nigripes) are the only Wild Ferret. Pet Ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) are domesticated descendants of European ferrets (Mustela putorius), sometimes called polecats.
Are there different types of ferrets? While cats and dogs come in many breeds, the domestic ferret is a single breed. Unlike the black-footed ferret, the domestic ferret does not have one standard color or coat pattern. Like cats and dogs, ferrets can have a variety of different colors and coat patterns.
With that said, according to the American Ferret Association, there are 8 basic colors recognized in ferrets.
- Albino: pink eyes and nose, a white or cream undercoat and white or cream-colored guard hairs
- Dark-eyed white: same coloring as Albino ferrets, except for their eyes, which are black to burgundy
- Sable: black eyes, light or speckled brown or pink nose with brown in a t-shape, white or cream undercoat and deep warm brown guard hairs
- Black sable: dark brown eyes, black nose that may be speckled, white or cream undercoat and black or dark brown guard hairs
- Black: black eyes, solid dark brown or brown speckled with black nose, white undercoat and black guard hairs
- Cinnamon: Light to dark burgundy eyes, beige/pink to burgundy/brick nose with light brown or brick T-shape, white undercoat and reddish-brown guard hair
- Chocolate: brown to dark burgundy eyes, beige, deep red, pink or pink with brown T-shape nose, white undercoat and chocolate brown guard hairs
- Champagne: light to dark burgundy eyes, beige, pink or pink with brown T-shape nose, white or cream undercoat and tan guard hairs
When describing a ferret’s appearance, two terms are used: color and pattern. Color refers to the color of the ferret’s guard hair, undercoat, eyes, and nose. Pattern refers to the concentration and distribution of color on the body, mask, and nose. Pattern can also refer to white markings that appear on the head or feet.
In addition to overall color, individual ferrets can have multiple color patterns, so sometimes it is difficult to categorize a ferret’s color pattern.
Ferret Coat Patterns
There are 8 color patterns used to describe ferret coat patterns:
- Bib: the white fur under the neck
- Mitt: the white fur on the feet that ends at the ankle
- Stocking: the white fur on the feet that ends halfway up the leg
- Points: the fur over the mask, shoulders, legs and tail
- Roaning: white guard hairs that can be scattered through the coat
- Standard/full: a strip of solid-colored fur surrounding and between each eye
- T-bar: a strip of solid-colored fur surrounding and between each eye extending to the top of the head
- V: a thin strip of solid-colored fur surrounding each eye and extending down the nose
Ferret Color Patterns
There are 9 basic color patterns recognized in ferrets:
- Blaze: any color coat other than white with a long white blaze extending from the top of the head down the back of the neck. Eyes are red to brown, nose is pink, feet have white mitts and tail has a white tip. A bib and guard hair roaning may be present and mask color may vary.
- Mitt: any coat color other than white with a white bib and white feet
- Mutt: multiple coat colors without any distinct color pattern
- Panda: any coat color other than white with a white head and a darker coat across their shoulders and hips. Eyes are dark red, and nose is pink. Mitts or stockings are on all four feet with a white tail tip. Color rings may surround eyes, but there is no mask. Guard hair roaning may be present.
- Point: any color other than white with markedly different color fur on the points. A thin V-shaped (rather than a full T-bar shaped) mask and a light-colored nose. Champagnes may have no mask at all.
- Roan: any coat color other than white with 40% to 60% white guard hairs over the body and points and colored guard hairs evenly sprinkled over the body.
- Solid: any coat color other than white with no white guard hairs. Coat looks like a solid color from head to tail. Masks may be full or T-bar shaped.
- Standard: any coat color other than white with no white guard hairs, but the coat color concentration is not as heavy as in a solid coat. Points are easily distinguished, and masks may be either full or T-bar shaped.
- Striped/Patterned: any coat color other than white with a minimum of 90% white guard hairs and with colored guard hairs sprinkled throughout or colored spots and/or a colored stripe down the back.
If you are not in The Ferret Show Business, it is often difficult to classify ferrets based on color and pattern. When seasons change and when ferrets get older, it becomes even harder to accurately classify a ferret’s coat. Some ferrets completely change colors–often getting lighter and loosing their markings. Some may get darker or lighter masks or lose their masks altogether.
In addition to the America Ferret Association Standards, many other color patterns have been created, like the non-standard “Party Poodle” color in poodles. The ferret breeder, Marshall Farm, identifies 10 color patterns. Some are the same as the American Ferret Association’s Standards and others are more of a sub-category of the official classifications.
Marshall Farm Ferret Patterns
- Sable Mask
- Marked White
- Sable Mitt
- Black-Eyed White
Plus, there are numerous other sub-categories or combinations that have been named, such as:
Are there different types of ferrets? Well, there are certainly different colored and patterned ferrets. Some look so unlike others that it is easy to believe they must be a different kind. But with as many different color and pattern combinations and variations thereof, there is still the one and only original ferret!
Your comments are welcome.