Black-footed ferrets are native animals to North America.1 They are part of the order Carnivora and the family Mustelidae.2 They weigh 1.5 to 2.5 pounds and are 18-24 inches long. They are considered endangered, with only several hundred left in the wild.3

Black-footed ferrets have yellow-buff colored fur with black markings on their face, tail, and feet.They are nocturnal animals, and they’re endemic to North America. They usually hang out in grassland habitats.4

Historically, it’s estimated that there used to be up to a million Black-footed ferrets. However, due to things like disease, a lack of genetic diversity, and a drop in their prey, their population numbers have dropped significantly.4

It was thought they were extinct at one point, but then more were discovered in the 1980s.3 Black-footed ferrets are vocal and playful. When they’re young, they’ll wrestle with their siblings, and they’ll often use sound, like hissing, to make their fear or annoyance clear.2

They are solitary animals, except when it’s time to breed. Females will give birth to about 4 offspring. Offspring are still dependent on their mother for some time after they’ve stopped nursing from her. They usually live for only 3-4 years.2

These animals have a high metabolism and have to eat a lot. They’ll usually consume:2

  • Prairie dogs (these make up most of their diet)
  • Mice
  • Squirrels
  • Reptiles
  • Birds
  • Rabbits

Because they are nocturnal and have to hunt at night, they have a strong sense of smell.2 Where they’ll be is directly connected to where you can find prairie dogs because they’re such an important item of prey for them.4

Because Black-footed ferrets are endangered, it’s important that there are conservation efforts in place.