Despite their tender appearance and small size, ferrets have a reputation as great hunters. Despite being animals that have been domesticated for a long time, the hunting instinct is innate in this small mammal.
Ironically, many confuse ferrets with other rodents, but in reality, most of the animals that ferrets hunt in the wild are small rodents.
When ferrets were domesticated by man, initially, it was to use them as hunting animals for mammals such as rabbits that are difficult to hunt when they take refuge in their burrows, the ferret by its physical characteristics is an excellent hunter of burrowing rodents.
Here is a list of the 6 rodent animals most hunted by ferrets.
Of all the animals that the ferret can hunt, the rabbit is the main one, this is because the ferret has been used and trained for many decades to hunt ferrets. Ferrets have been domesticated for hunting purposes since the rabbit entered the human diet.
Rabbits are elusive burrowing animals, where they shelter from most large predators that are outdoors, but the ferret is a burrowing animal as well, tunnels are its natural habitat, the ferret can follow the rabbit into the burrow, and hunt it with ease.
A ferret in average weight has only 2 kilograms approximately, while a rabbit has an approximate weight and sometimes can be heavier and larger, but the qualities as a hunter that the ferret has do not discriminate size or weight.
The way in which a ferret hunts a rabbit is very similar to how big cats hunt other mammals, the ferret dominates the rabbit by biting the back of the head and the neck area.
2-Mice and rats
If you ever thought that the ferret was related to rats and mice, well, no, in fact, these animals are part of the ferret’s prey.
ferrets can hunt rats and mice, or they can eat them already dead, they don’t care, although I must say, that rats can be a bit aggressive and due to the size they may have, they could defend themselves quite well, but for a fully grown ferret, a rat is a prey, no matter how much it tries to defend itself, like rabbits, ferrets can enter holes and narrow spaces to hunt rats.
Actually, ferrets do not belong to the rodent family, they belong to the mustelid family, ferrets can naturally scare away mice, mice can be quite intelligent, and recognize when there is danger in their environment, ferrets are a mouse and rats deterrent.
Prairie dogs are rodents, they like to build tunnels and are diurnal animals, guess which animal is also a diurnal, burrow, and rodent hunter? Yes, exactly, ferrets.
This is one of the favorite prey of ferrets in the wild, in fact, prairie dogs living in the wild are found in the United States in areas with very warm temperatures, and live in burrows created by themselves.
They live in groups and have an advanced communication system, especially to alert of approaching predators, their vocalizations resemble a bark, hence their name.
The thing is, no matter how advanced the prairie dogs’ communication is to warn about predators, the black-footed ferret can follow them without problems to their burrow.
Prairie dogs are so numerous and easy for black-footed ferrets to catch that, in fact, they make up almost the entire diet of ferrets in the wild; a ferret may eat up to two prairie dogs per week.
Possums and ferrets have similar physical characteristics, but they are not at all the same, Possums are another rodent, which belongs to the marsupial family, nothing to do with the mustelids, and for a small rodent, the possum is not very fast compared to the other rodents in this list, therefore, it can be an easy hunting prey for an adult ferret.
Although opossums have their own defense mechanism to avoid being eaten when they are in extreme danger from a predator, opossums go into a state where they appear to be dead, they do not pretend, they actually remain immobile for a while, but also, they release a chemical substance from their body that is very stinky, which scares away predators.
Incredibly, ferrets are known in some European countries to feed on hedgehogs in the wild, although hedgehogs are not rodents, they belong to the Erinaceidae family, anyway, it is a small mammal that because of its slow movement is a prey that can be attractive to ferrets, although the defensive mechanism of hedgehogs is quite effective.
A ferret is smart and tenacious enough to try to turn the hedgehog over to avoid its spines.
Yes, another small rodent that the ferret with its hunting instinct could eat, although the common squirrels spend most of their time in trees and are very fast and difficult for a ferret to hunt, there are the ground squirrels, these squirrels have the characteristic of living in burrows, which they build on hillsides or low berms.
If they cannot find a hillside, ground squirrels dig vertically for several meters to create a safe space, but no place dug in the ground is a safe place when it comes to ferrets.
What animals hunt ferrets?
Although ferrets are formidable hunters, they also have other animals up the food chain that can feed on them. Aerial animals such as eagles and owls as well as predatory mammals such as coyotes and red foxes can hunt and eat ferrets in the wild.