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The European ferret (Mustela putorius) is found throughout Europe as well as in northern and western Asia and northern Africa. These ferrets are found in forests, meadows, parks, villages, farms and barns. In general, they are located anywhere that their food sources can be found. They feed on mice, rats, small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.
The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) is found in North America. Black-footed ferrets are highly specialized predators that depend on prairie dogs for both food and shelter.The majority of the black-footed ferret's diet is made up of prairie dogs. The ferrets live in prairie dog towns in underground tunnels.
Ferrets live in a variety of habitats, including plains, forests, mountainous regions, deserts, tundra and grasslands.
Because of the loss of
habitat European ferrets have been faced with, the number of ferrets in the wild is dwindling. The black-footed ferret declined almost to distinction at one point and remains threatened. However, they are making a comeback after a population of over 100 ferrets was discovered in Wyoming. The conversion of grasslands to agricultural use and programs that have been put in place to eradicate prairie dogs have reduced the ferret habitat. It is now less than two percent of what it once was.
The domestic ferret, which is not a wild animal, has been domesticated for thousands of years. They were once used to remove rodents from barns and for rabbit hunting, chasing the rabbits from their dens. However, in the United States today they are pets and their habitat often consists of a darkened cage or the run of the house.