Description of American Blackfoot ferrets and where they live, lifestyle

Description of American Blackfoot ferrets and where they live, lifestyle

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The subgenus Putorius of the marten family includes 3 species. Consider the description and characteristics of the American ferret, which has another name - black-footed. Where do animals live and how long they live, what they eat. Consider the lifestyle and reproduction in nature, how they hunt, and who their enemies are. As well as issues of protection and preservation of this rare species.

Description of American Blackfoot ferrets

The species of American black-footed ferrets has distinctive physical features. Body length - about 45 cm, tail - 15 cm long, fluffy. The weight of the animal is 0.65-1.4 kg, females are slightly smaller than males. Like all weasels, the black-footed ferret has a squat, elongated body with short legs. Small head with rounded ears. Long fluffy tail.

The body of the black-footed ferret is elongated, flexible, very squat due to short legs. Despite the short length, the legs of the animal are strong and powerful. The predator can not only run fast, but also climb, swim, and dig holes.

The coat is light at the base, darkens at the tips. The overall color is yellowish brown. The end of the tail, legs and muzzle of this ferret are black. Coloring helps animals to camouflage. The fur of predators is soft and dense, shiny, consists of awn and down. Fur is considered valuable. There are special glands near the tail that secrete a special secret with a pungent strong odor. His animals are used to scare away enemies.

Life span

In nature, ferrets of the American species live for 3-5 years, but they can die earlier from diseases or unfavorable living conditions. When kept at home, where there are no such dangers, and treatment is provided, the animals are able to live longer: up to 10 years or more.

Where do they live?

The homeland and habitat of the black-footed ferret is North America. They live on the prairies east of the Rocky Mountains - in Montana, Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and in the Mexican state of Chiufua. In total, the territory occupied by the species is small, so the population also cannot boast of a large number.

Lifestyle and diet

Ferrets usually live alone, with males and females meeting only to raise offspring. Animals are active at night, at this time of day they go hunting. Ferrets are most active in late summer and early autumn, by this period of the year the young grow up and become independent. The season does not greatly affect the activity of the species, but in winter ferrets are able to stay in burrows for a week if the weather is unfavorable.

Animals hunt on their territory, females have a smaller hunting area than males. The hunting grounds of one animal are extensive and, on average, according to the estimates of zoologists, occupy 60 hectares. The territory of the male may partially overlap with the territories of the females.

American ferrets feed on prairie dogs - rodents from the squirrel family that look like gophers. 1 family of predators requires at least 250 rodents per year. Ferrets not only feed on prairie dogs, but also live in their burrows. In addition to dogs, the diet of predators includes mice, rabbits, small birds and large insects, but their share is about 10%. Ferrets do not digest plant foods well, so they are not included in their diet.

Expert opinion

Zarechny Maxim Valerievich

Agronomist with 12 years of experience. Our best summer cottage expert.

Black-footed ferrets do not drink water, the need for liquid is satisfied by the consumption of meat and the entrails of animals. This is enough for their life.


Female black-footed ferrets are ready for breeding at one year of age. The breeding season for animals is in mid-spring: March and April. Pregnancy lasts 35-45 days. One litter contains 1-6 puppies. The weight of newborns is small, only 5-10 g. They are born blind and helpless.

They develop and grow rapidly, remain in the burrow for about 1.5 months. In the summer, the offspring grows near the mother, and in the fall they separate, feeling themselves independent. Males do not take part in raising offspring. Only females raise the cubs, they feed him with milk, then they teach him to eat meat, protect the offspring if necessary.

Hunting and enemies

The American ferret needs at least 50-70 g of meat per day, but, as scientists have established, they do not store previously caught prey, so they need to hunt every day.

Each individual protects its territory from congeners who become competitors in the fight for food. The method of hunting prairie dogs is trapping the victim at the entrance to the burrow. If the animal did not succeed in catching immediately, the predators chase it for some time. But this is not always possible, because gophers are larger than ferrets in size and move very quickly.

They often hunt at night, sleep and rest during the day, not showing themselves out of their burrows during daylight hours. So they hide from their enemies, who themselves, in turn, can hunt for them.

Ferrets are curious, alert and agile, they have excellent eyesight, smell and hearing. They use scent to identify territory and maintain dominance over it. To scare an uninvited guest, they make noise and hiss.

The ferret's enemies are larger predators that can kill and eat it. These are wolves and foxes, eagles and golden eagles, eagle owls and owls, wild large cats and snakes. Despite the fact that ferrets are agile and aggressive, they cannot always dodge the teeth of their enemies.

Conservation and protection

The population of black-footed American ferrets is small today. This is due to the damage that a person causes to animals by his activities and the consequences of fighting prairie dogs - the main food of the species (the destruction of gophers leads to a reduction in ferrets).

Despite the fact that ferrets control the population of prairie dogs, which dig holes in the ground and can carry serious infections, farmers view predators as pests. They explain this by the fact that the cattle are kicked into the holes of the ferrets and injured.

The American ferret is one of the rarest species in North America. In the 80s, animals almost died out, and it was decided to artificially reproduce them. The animals obtained in captivity were released and began to reproduce. Now their number exceeds 1000 individuals, and the population continues to increase. But all the same, the species is currently in the Red Book as one that is on the verge of extinction. Hunting him is prohibited, as he is under protection. It is forbidden to destroy the burrows of prairie dogs if a family of black-footed ferrets is found nearby.

The American ferret is a rare species found only in North America in certain areas. Refers to security due to its small number. It is in distress due to human activities and dependence on prairie dogs as a food source.

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