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Male vs. Female Ferret: Which Gender Is Best for You? 

Nicole Cosgrove

Ferrets are fun-loving creatures that make great pets for households with or without kids and with or without other pets. These furry animals are intelligent, curious, and frisky, which makes them fun to spend time with. Ferrets may be born with silver, sandy, dew, pole, or albino colors. They are ready to breed by about 9 months of age, so males should be neutered by this time if they are living with one or more females.

These animals—technically, members of the mustelid or weasel family—love to play with toys and will spend hours running around the house and investigating whatever they can find. They look forward to no less than 2 hours of free time for exercise daily, and they would not be opposed to double the amount of time if offered. Ferrets in general are awesome, but what is the difference between males and females?

If you are like most potential owners, you want to know the answer to this question before deciding which gender to adopt and take home. We have broken the genders down for you, so you can easily learn the differences and have peace of mind knowing that you are choosing the right option when it comes time to adopt a new ferret to add to your family.

divider-ferretVisual Differences

male vs female ferret

There are a few visual differences between male and female ferrets that every potential owner should be aware of, even if the differences are only slight. Here is what you should know.

Size Differences

Male and female ferrets differ in size, with males being longer and heavier. Boys can be up to 24 inches long, while females can grow up to about 16 inches in length. Males can weigh anywhere between 3 and 5 pounds, while females tend to weigh in at no more than 3 pounds. What is interesting is that gals seem to have larger heads than the guys do.

Other than differences in size, both male and female ferrets look the same. It can be almost impossible to tell the difference between the genders just by comparing their coloring, body shape, activity level, or personality.

At a Glance

Male Ferrets
  • Average length (adult): 17–24 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 3–5 pounds
  • Lifespan: 5–10 years
  • Exercise: 2+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: High
Female Ferrets
  • Average length (adult): 12–16 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 1–3 pounds
  • Lifespan: 5–10 years
  • Exercise: 2+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: High

divider-rodentMale Ferret Overview

Young ferret male_Couperfield_shutterstock
Credit: Couperfield, Shutterstock

Male ferrets are as fun, curious, and intelligent as their female counterparts. They can weigh anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds, making them the perfect small house pet for those who do not have much space for a cage and who don’t mind having a ferret run around loose throughout the house for a few hours a day.

Personality / Character

Every ferret, no matter their gender, has a unique personality. Therefore, it is impossible to tell the difference between a guy and a gal based solely on their personalities. You should know that ferrets are excitable and can get themselves into trouble if they do not have plenty of toys to play with and people or other animals to interact with.

These animals enjoy the safety of an enclosed habitat, but they will not be happy spending all their time in it. They need the opportunity to get out and run around. The households they live in should be “ferret-proofed” before one of these animals is introduced to the space for the first time. If the whole house cannot be proofed for a ferret, at least one room in the home or an attic or a garage should be proofed so they can spend their free time there.

ferret male portrait_Julie Gaia_shutterstock
Credit: Julie Gaia, Shutterstock

Breeding

Male ferrets can start breeding by about 9 months of age and will do so rapidly if they have the chance. If owners do not want ferret babies running around, they should have their male pets neutered if they will be living with female ferrets. Males do not go into heat cycles as females do. They will simply attempt to reproduce when a female they have access to is in heat.

Suitability 👪

Male ferrets are suitable for any household that has room for them to run around and play in. Ferrets get along with children, teens, adults, seniors, and other friendly animals such as dogs and cats. They should never be left to roam outside unattended because they can easily become prey for wild and neighborhood animals. They can also easily get lost. Ferrets can be taught to walk on leashes, which makes for a safe adventure outdoors.

divider-birdFemale Ferret Overview

Cute little domestic ferret, female adorable_Bea K_shutterstock
Credit: Bea K, Shutterstock

Female and male ferrets do not have many differences. They are both active, playful, family-oriented, and inquisitive by nature. Some owners think that females are a little more aggressive than males when it comes to getting attention, but this is purely anecdotal. The biggest difference between males and females has to do with reproduction.

Grooming ✂️

Ferrets, both male and female, should be bathed every few months to keep their hair soft and healthy. Their nails need to be trimmed once a week so they do not ruin furniture, injure children, or crack and break, causing pain to the animal. Their ears and teeth should also be cleaned once every two weeks to minimize the risk of infection.

Breeding

Once they enter a heat cycle, females do not stop looking to mate until they reproduce. If reproduction does not happen, the heat cycle continues. Unfortunately, female ferrets that do not reproduce and end their heat cycle are prone to a condition called aplastic anemia.

Aplastic anemia is caused when estrogen levels remain high in the ferret’s body, and the problem can lead to the loss of red cell production and could even result in death if not caught in time. Therefore, female ferrets should be spayed before they reach 9 months of age, unless they will be bred when they go into heat.

Cute little domestic ferret, female_Bea K_shutterstock
Credit: Bea K, Shutterstock

Suitability 👪

Female ferrets are suitable for the same people and household types that male ferrets are. If you think your household is a great match for a ferret pet, you should have peace of mind knowing that you are getting a unique and awesome pet whether you choose male or female.

divider-pawOur Final Thoughts

Ferrets are fun and friendly creatures, no matter their gender. They all show love and like attention, and they all enjoy time with their toys. But every ferret is unique in terms of personality. Some are more stubborn than others, while some are more curious. Which gender are you considering adopting, or are you thinking about adopting one of each? We would love to hear about your thoughts and plans! Let us know by leaving a comment below.


Featured image credit: Victor Parhimchik, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.