It is believed the ferret has been a domesticated animal since the time Pharaohs ruled Egypt; some say even before cats! Ferrets have been used for hunting for many years. Often paired with a hawk. Ferrets would flush game from the underbrush and allow the hawk to take it down.

A Job To Do

Ferrets were brought to Europe after the crusades and bred for use in controlling rat populations in homes and granaries. More recently, ferrets were hired by Boeing aircraft to string large gauge wire through their aircraft. It is still a mystery who domesticated them first.

Not Rodents

Ferrets are not rodents, as is commonly believed. They are actually members of the weasel family along with polecats, stoats, otters, badgers and wolverines. Since the origins of the domesticated ferret are unknown, no one can say with certainty who its original parents are. Genetically they are very similar to Europe ‘s polecat and were even bred with the polecat to make them better hunters. The ferret you see in the pet shop window is actually an animal without a native habitat. There are no natural populations of the domestic ferret anywhere in the world. The one exception is a small colony in New Guinea where a population of domestic ferrets and polecats were introduced. The two species have bred to form a single hybrid species and have populated a small area on the island.


At first, the use of ferrets for hunters and for rodent control was also very popular among early American settlers. A family by the name of Marshall can take sole responsibility of popularizing the ferret as a household pet in America. In 1939 the Marshall family began breeding ferrets on their home farm. Since that time, the Marshall farms have set a standard for breeding Ferrets. They even provide quality foods and products for your favorite pets. Zamzows only carries Marshall Ferrets with adoption papers; we also carry Marshall Premium Ferret food and many other quality ferret products.


There is a wild ferret that is native to North America. The Black-Footed Ferret is a fairly unknown native to the Midwest that is dangerously close to extinction. In fact, the Black-Footed Ferret is the most endangered animal in America. The number one cause of the black-footed ferrets’ demise is the decline of their natural food source, prairie dogs. Prairie dogs are considered pests by farmers and have been killed by poisoning and trapping.

The prairie dog now has many acres of protected land but their populations have never bounced back to what they once were. With no food source for the Black-Footed ferret, their future looks dim. Captive breeding and reintroduction efforts have been going on since 1991, but these captive-bred animals have only a 10% chance of survival.