Ferrets - Mustela putorius furo - are domesticated mammals, closely related to polecats. Ferrets were probably initially domesticated for use in hunting, and they are still used to hunt rabbits.

Increasingly, ferrets are kept as pets, and their playful nature makes them enjoyable companion animals. However, ferrets sleep for 14-18 hours a day, and they have very sharp teeth so they're not really suitable pets for young children.

They are carnivores and should be fed a complete ferret food. They like to burrow into their bedding, and should be provided with a variety of tunnels and tubes to explore. Ferrets can live alone, but they prefer to live in social groups where they can perform normal social behaviours such as grooming.

Keeping ferrets can be enjoyable and rewarding, but you will almost certainly need to consider neutering, and we also advise vaccination.

Ferrets can catch human influenza, so owners with symptoms of 'flu should avoid handling them.