Ferrets have lived with humans for hundreds of years—over 2,500 years, in fact. These feisty critters were originally used to hunt rabbits and other small prey, but in recent years almost all domesticated ferrets are living in homes as pets. They are related to weasels and polecats. Their Latin name, Mustela putorius furo, means “smelly little thief.” A pretty hilarious name for such a charming animal!
Ferrets are Popular Pets
The American ferret population took off in 1980s when Dr. Wendy Winstead, a veterinarian, singer, and ferret owner, took her pet ferret on the David Letterman show. Soon Hollywood stars like Dick Smothers and David Carradine became ferret owners, spreading the word about their pets’ sweet tempers and funny antics.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. have discovered the joys of ferret ownership. Their popularity is on the rise! Latest estimates rank the ferret as the third most popular pet in America.