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Home > General > Mink vs Ferret: What’s the Difference? (With Pictures)

Mink vs Ferret: What’s the Difference? (With Pictures)

Mink vs Ferret

The mink and ferret are both similar looking animals, but there are several significant differences between the two. The biggest difference between the two is that the ferret makes a great pet, while the mink is too wild for a domestic household and requires the attention of a zoo or other special habitat. Another fundamental difference between the two is that the mink is a species while the ferret is a subspecies.

divider-ferret Visual Differences

Mink vs Ferret - Visual Differences
Image Credit: Left – An inspiration, Shutterstock | Right – everydoghasastory, Shutterstock

At a Glance

  • Average height (adult): 12–20 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 4–5 pounds
  • Lifespan: 9–11 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: No
  • Other pet-friendly: No
  • Trainability: Nocturnal and solitary
  • Average height (adult): 18–24 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 5–4.5 pounds
  • Lifespan: 5–9 years
  • Exercise: 2+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: No
  • Trainability: Intelligent, curious, and playful

divider-rodent Mink Overview

Young mink_Aleksandra Saveljeva_shutterstock
Image Credit: Aleksandra Saveljeva, Shutterstock

The mink is one of two species of often farmed animals closely related to the weasel.


There are two breeds of mink, the European and the American. Let’s look at both in this section.

  • American Mink – The American mink is a semi-aquatic animal bred in captivity by fur farms. It’s a solitary animal that can be as much as twice the wild mink’s size due to selective breeding and nutrition to produce more fur. You can find mink in many colors, including white, black, blue, sapphire, and pearl.
  • European Mink – The European mink is about the same size as the American version and is also commonly bred in captivity for their fur. Besides location, European mink differ in that they are much less aggressive and less adaptable. It’s also only available in a deep brown with occasional white markings.


As mentioned earlier, the mink is a semi-aquatic animal that can dive as deep as 12 feet underwater, so they require a small pond to thrive. They follow the shoreline, where they will investigate holes in search of prey. They are strict carnivores and eat mice, frogs, salamanders, birds, and eggs. It’s a solitary animal except during mating season, and the young become independent after only 6 months.

portrait of the adult Mink_Gallinago_media_shutterstock
Image Credit: Gallinago_media, Shutterstock

Suitable for 👪

Because of the huge environment and special needs they require, you will not find many mink as domestic pets, and they are far better off in a zoo where they will receive professional care. Most mink are bred in captivity in fur farms and remain there their entire lives. Their only purpose is to produce fur for the garment industry.

divider-bird Ferret Overview

Ferret Overview
Image Credit By: christels, pixabay

The ferret is a popular pet in many parts of the world and looks like the mink but is quite different.

Personality / Character

Ferrets are very friendly and intelligent creatures that are naturally curious. Ferrets don’t require a habitat with deep water and are content to explore your home. You can train them to use a litter box, and they will also perform simple tricks.

Health and Care 🏥

Ferrets have scent glands similar to skunks that they use to mark their territory, and they will create an odor in your home. However, they are very clean animals that only require an occasional bath. There are several health problems associated with these pets.

Colds and Flu

Ferrets are very susceptible to colds and the flu and can easily catch them from their human counterparts. It’s best to keep your distance if you feel unwell and let someone else care for them for a few days until you feel better. If you think your ferret is coming down with something, the signs to look for include watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, weakness, and loose stools.

cinnamon ferret
Image Credit: christels, Pixabay


Cardiomyopathy is a condition that is common in ferrets over 3 years old. It causes a thinning of the heart walls. This thinning of the heart walls reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood. Signs of cardiomyopathy include lethargy, weight loss, coughing, and increased respiratory rate.

Suitable for 👪

Ferrets make great family pets suitable for any home with enough space to provide them room to move around. They are illegal to keep as pets in California and Hawaii and may be unlawful in other places as well, so you will need to check with your local authorities to see if they are allowed.


Which Breed Is Right for You?

When choosing between a mink and a ferret, the only decision you can make is the ferret. The mink will require more care and a larger environment than most people can provide. A ferret is inexpensive and much more suitable for living in a home. Their loving and curious nature will make a great companion for many years.

We hope you have enjoyed our look at these similar but very different animals. If we have answered your questions and convinced you to get a ferret for your home, please share this guide to the mink versus ferret on Facebook and Twitter.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Top – Aleksandra Saveljeva, Shutterstock | Bottom – ambquinn, Pixabay

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