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Ferret Glossary

Adrenal Disease
Symptoms of the disease may include weight loss, weakness in the hind legs and hair loss beginning at the base of the tail progressing up the spine and back, which gets progressively worse with time.
Adrenocortical Neoplasia
Medical term for adrenal gland tumor.
A ferret which has no pigmentation. Ferret must be all white with red(pink) eyes.
Medical term for hair loss.
Alpha Ferret
The leader of the pack (or should we say business). The dominant ferret in the group.
See Kibble.
Black Eyed White
Like the albino, a black eyed white has an all white coat. Unlike the albino it has black eyes, hence the name black-eyed white.
Blown Coat
When a ferret sheds its coat (they do this twice a year for the winter and summer coats) there is a time where they look a little thread-bare. This is occurs when they have just lost their old coat and are in the process of growing a new coat. The act of shedding is called "blowing a coat". The threadbare look is called a "blown coat".
Bonded Pairs
Ferrets that have been kept together for so long that separating them would cause them emotional distress.
Bottlebrush Tail
Ferrets which are excited or scared may exhibited a behavior know as bottlebrush tail. When this occurs the hairs on the tail stick straight out resembling a bottlebrush.
A type of ferret build. Bulldog ferrets are the largest type of ferret. They have a very stocky build compared to the typical ferret. Shorter legs and tail and a bulldog type gate to their walk complete the package.
The term for a group of ferrets.
Carpet Shark
Slang term for ferret.
Canine Distemper Virus (see Distemper)
Also known as "sandy". Often times cinnamon ferrets will have ruby colored eyes.
When ferrets come into the world they come equipped with a secret weapon... anal scent glands. In the U.S. nearly all ferrets which are purchased from pet stores have had these already removed. These ferrets are referred to as being descented. The reason for this is pure marketing. Who would want to buy a pet that stinks? The truth is, however, that the scent glands only produce and odor when a ferret discharges it's scent glands. Ferret lovers with ferrets which have not been descented refer to this as "poofing" (as in... who poofed)". Luckily, the smell goes away very quickly. Because of this, most ferrets, which are purchased from breeders, are spared the pain of the unnecessary surgery and are never descented.
Dark Eyed White
A highly contagious disease which if caught by your ferret is 100% lethal. In order to protect your ferret it is important to have your ferret vaccinated by your vet.
When ferrets aren't knocking things down, pushing items off bookshelves, etc... they are normally quite animals. The only other sounds they will make is a kind of ferret chuckle (called a dook or dooking) and the occasional squeak.
Ear Mites
Little bugs may find a home in your ferrets ears. The best way to help prevent this from occurring is to regularly clean your ferret's ears. Although this is not always foolproof as even ferrets with clean ears can get ear mites. If your ferret gets mites you will need to take your ferret to the vet to get rid of them. It is important to know that ear mites are very contagious, if you own more than one ferret, chances are your other ferrets have them also.
A domesticated animal and friend of man for over 2000 years. Ferrets were domesticated from polecats much like dogs were domesticated from wolves. Originally ferrets were used primarily for as working animals. They were used hunting and rodent control. Today, in the US, ferrets are kept as pets. In Europe, ferrets are still used for hunting as well being kept as pets.
Ferret Mailing List (FML)
Internet mailing lists are a great way to keep in touch with other ferret lovers. Mailing lists work like an electronic bulletin board where subscribers to the list post opinions, questions, observations and whatever else they can think of which is related to ferrets. The Ferret Mailing List (FML) is the largest one of it's kind and is very active. Sent out once each day, you can expect to see 25+ posts in each issue! To subscribe send an e-mail to: ferret-request@cunyvm.cuny.edu. Be sure to send your first and last name, your e-mail address and a note that you wish to join the FML.
Ferret Math
Blamed as the root cause to explain why some people have so many ferrets. Those afflicted may see their little group go from 2 or 3 ferrets to 10+ in number.
Ferret-Free Zones (FFZ)
A state, county or town where ferrets are illegal as pets.
The act of creating a space that is both safe for ferrets and safe for your stuff. This includes eliminating potential dangers to your pet and removing items that might get broken, soiled, or made into a mess.
To hunt with ferrets.
During the early 1900's there was a town (New London, Ohio) which was known as Ferretville beacause of all the large scale ferret breeders which were located there.
Slang term for ferret.
Foot Rot
The symptoms of this condition are itchy red swollen and scabby feet. The condition is caused by a parasite, the Sarcoptes Scabiei (a type of mite). Veterinary treatment is required to rid ferret the parasite. If treatment is not received condition will get worse and the ferrets claws will likely fall off. (aka Scabies)
Foreign Body
Any object, with the exception of food or water, which has found its way into your ferret. Usually this occurs as a result of the ferret eating something it should not of. Examples include: rubber bands, pieces of a sponge, foam rubber, small plastic objects, etc.
Dutch for ferret.
German for ferret.
Finnish for ferret.
French for ferret.
Italian for ferret.
Guard Hairs
When you run your fingers through a ferrets coat you will notice that it consists of a shorter and softer undercoat and the longer and stiffer guard hairs. The undercoat helps provide insulation while the guard hairs help provide the weather proofing. In ferrets which are darker in color (sables, chocolates, etc) it is the guard hairs that provide the color. In this case the guard hairs get darker at the ends.
Hit Rate
The ability of a ferret to find (and use...) it's litter box. Most ferrets are pretty good about using the litter box in their cage and will only stop using it if gets too full. If this happens too often the ferret could get into a bad habit and cause the owner a lot of grief by not using the litter box even when it is not too full. It is far better, and less stinky, to keep those litter boxes clean. When ferrets are outside their cage, unfortunately, the numbers don't always look so good. If a ferret finds it's litter box 75% of the time it is referred to as a (75% hit rate). This is about average. Some are better. Some are a lot worse. To help try to keep the hit rate as high as possible it is important to place a number of litter boxes in the places the ferret has "hit" before and to try to wait until a ferret has done is business before letting it out.
A male ferret. (Technically ferret must be intact, otherwise it is referred to as a gib)
Spanish for ferret.
Isolation Cage
A cage used to separate ferrets from their cagemates while sick or recovering from surgery. Also used to quarantine new ferrets to prevent possible spreading of disease or parasites.
A female ferret. (Technically ferret must be intact, otherwise it is referred to as a sprite)
Commercially prepared dry ferret food. Also known as biscuits.
A baby ferret.
A common form of cancer in ferrets. Lymphosarcoma is cancer of the lymph nodes and other lymphatic tissue.
Refers to ferrets which have contrasting white feet.
Mustela Putorius Furo
The scientific name for our friend the domestic ferret.
Obligate Carnivore
An animal that must eat meat. Ferrets cannot readily digest plant materials. This is the reason that only high quality, meat based ferrets foods should be given to ferrets.This means that ferrets don't have to eat their veggies, in fact ferret favorites such as raisins, bananas and cheerios should only be given sparingly as treats.
Native to Europe and a member of the Mustelidae family polecats are believed by many to be the wild ancestor to the ferret.
see descented
Rat tail
Ferret slang for used to describe a condition where the tail loses all its hair and the skin takes on a scaly appearance. May be a sign of adrenal gland tumors.
Sebaceous Glands
These glands, located in the ferret's skin, are responsible for the oil in the ferrets coat and the characteristic musky ferret scent.
Japanese for ferret.
Waardenenburg's Syndrome
Certain ferret color patterns containing the color white are prone to deafness due to a genetic disorder known as Waardensburg Syndrome. These color patterns include black-eyed whites, panda's, and shetland's (aka blaze).
Working Animals
Ferrets that are used for hunting or less commonly today, rodent control. While hunting with ferrets is illegal in the US it is still practiced in other parts of the world.
Russian for ferret.