Mink vs Ferret: Guide For Difference Between Mink And Ferret


Are mink and ferret related?

Do you know the difference between mink and ferret?

Ferrets and minks look very similar, but they aren’t the same animal. What makes them so similar, yet so different? You can read all about their differences and similarities in my post about minks and ferrets!

General Ferret Information

Since this is a ferret website, I will start with general ferret information and after that, I will continue with the mink information.

Ferret Domestication

What you need to know immediately is the fact that ferrets are pets, while minks are wild animals and they aren’t suitable options to be a part of your family as a pet. We domesticated ferrets almost 2,500 years ago and they are used to humans so they make terrific pets. You can read more about their domestication in my post about ferret history. Ferrets are not afraid of humans and they accept them as part of their family. Also, ferrets are intelligent animals so you can easily train them to do various tricks and you can even train them to use a litter box like cats do.

history painting with ferret

Ferrets As Pets

Ferrets are great pets, they are a combination of dogs and cats. They love attention as much as dogs do, but they can be self-sufficient just like cats. I wouldn’t recommend getting a ferret to a family with small children because ferrets are very small. If a child grabs a ferret too tight on the tail (for example), a ferret will defend himself. Most of the time that ends up with the ferret biting the child. What I would recommend is that the kid is not younger than 10-12 years so you can teach him properly how to handle a ferret or how to play with one. Ferrets are affectionate, they love to cuddle, but when they say it is enough, they mean it. Sort of like cats.

difference between mink and ferret

Ferret Nature

Ferrets are playful by nature so you need to stimulate their mind. If you don’t they will get bored and look for entertainment by themselves. Due to their long and flexible body, ferrets can crawl through tight holes and eventually end up in trouble. They love exploring, sniffing, and stealing things which means they require your constant attention. Also, you have to prevent your ferrets from entering cabinets and other dangerous places to keep them safe. You can do that by ferret-proofing your home. They love company so it is always a good idea to get at least two ferrets so they have someone to play with.

Ferret Nature

Ferrets Living Habits

Mostly, ferrets are indoor animals. People have them in their homes and use big cages for their living area. But, you can’t leave your ferret in the cage at all times. You have to let it out at least twice a day for a couple of hours so your ferret can spend his energy and occupy his mind. If you let your ferret in the cage for too long, he may become frustrated and try to break out. Another option for ferrets to live in is a hutch in the backyard. Yes, they can live outdoors, but you have to provide them shelter, toys, and safety from other animals. Also, during summer, make sure the hutch is not in direct sunlight because ferrets don’t do well during high temperatures.

Ferrets Living Habits

Ferret Health & Care

The average lifespan of a ferret is around 6-10 years. Yes, it is a rather wide range, but it depends on many factors, one of the biggest is the place where you bought one. You can read more about their lifespan in my post about ferret life expectancy. Ferrets have a few health issues that usually come from a wrong choice of diet, neutering at a too early age, or poor genetic material. All those issues can be held under control with regular check-ups. When it comes to caring, ferrets don’t require much attention. You mustn’t bathe them or you can irritate their skin. What you have to do regularly is cutting their toenails, cleaning their ears, and brushing their teeth. You can read more about it in my post about ferret grooming.

Ferret Health & Care

Ferret Nutrition

Their nutrition is another very important factor that can contribute to their health. Ferrrets are obligated carnivores, which means they should eat meat, bones, and organs. You can feed them whole prey (rats, mice, quail…) or you can use bigger animals like chicken, turkey, lamb, etc. From them, you can use certain parts like chicken wings, turkey neck, lamb meat, etc. That is their ideal diet, but if you aren’t capable of providing them with it, you can use an alternative in a form of high-quality, grain-free ferret kibble.  Ferret’s diet shouldn’t have any fruit, vegetables, or sugar so it is important to choose the right kibble type for them.

Ferret Nutrition

General Mink Information

The first thing ferrets and minks have in common is the family. They both are a part of the Mustelidae family, just like otters, weasels, etc.

Mink Domestication

Although minks are among people for a long time, they aren’t domesticated. Minks are considered wild animals and the biggest tie to humankind is the one in fur production. People hold minks on so-called fur farms where they are living in bad conditions. They are bred only for their fur, which is thick, shiny, and in one word – beautiful. Most minks are dark brown in color, but people managed to breed light colors as well. Those light-colored minks are only found on the farms.

minks on fur farms

Minks As Pets

Owning a mink as a pet is not a good idea. As I have already mentioned, minks are wild animals and they aren’t used to humans in any way or form. There are a couple of cases in the world where people had minks as pets but those are special occasions. If a person rescues a baby mink, then a mink can be attached to that person. But, only to that person, meaning no other family member or friend can come near the mink. That is why most rescued minks are located in Zoo-s or wildlife rescue centers with people who know how to approach a wild animal.

Minks As PetsPhoto Source: Animals Network

Mink Nature

Another difference between mink and ferret is in their way of life. Minks are mostly solitary animals, unlike ferrets that love to live in groups. There are two reasons for minks to live in groups. It can happen during mating season or after it when adult minks are taking care of their offspring. Once the young minks are old enough they leave their parents in search of their own territory since they are very territorial animals. The thing they do have in common with ferrets is their activity. Both animals are crepuscular, meaning they are active the most in dusk and dawn.

Mink NaturePhoto Source: Animals Network

Mink Living Range

There are two mink breeds, the European mink, and the American mink. The European mink is located mostly in Russian territory (Euroasia), while you can find American mink in most of North America. Both animals come with dark shiny fur in nature, while in captivity, you can find light fur colors in American minks (like white, blue, pearl).  You can differentiate one from the other by the white patch under the chin. Every European mink comes with a white patch under the chin, but that is not the case with American minks. Only a few American minks have that white patch, most of them are without it.

Mink Living RangePhoto Source: Animals Network

Mink Living Habits

Minks are semi-aquatic animals, meaning they live near the water. They are very fast and agile in water, they can dive for a couple of minutes. They can actually develop a type of frustration if they aren’t near a body of water they can use to swim. Besides swimming and diving, they use water as a source of food. They are very skillful hunters that can catch different types of fish among other things.

Mink Living HabitsPhoto Source: Animals Network

Mink Nutrition

Just as ferrets, minks are carnivores. They are pretty ferocious beasts that feed on small animals like fish, birds, rodents, etc. They are fast hunters and they will kill their prey with ease in the water and on the land. The American mink is bigger than the European mink and you can actually hear that a mink fought of bigger animals like coyotes, bobcats even big birds of prey. They can thank that to their strong jaw filled with sharp teeth, long and fast body, and fierce nature.

Mink nutrition


Although minks look beautiful and majestic, they aren’t domesticated and you shouldn’t consider getting a mink for a pet. Now that you’ve seen the difference between mink and ferret you can see the domestication in ferret’s behavior and other parts of their personality. Have you ever seen a mink in the wild or in captivity? Share your experience with us and subscribe to our newsletter!

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Anja Delic
Anja is a Friendly Ferret owner and a ferret parent who is involved in the ferret world for more than 10 years. She started her Friendly Ferret blog when she got her first ferret Frida 8 years ago. In 2013, Friendly Ferret was recognized as a great source of information and it has become a good ferret brand for education, products, and fun. Since then, Anja was a part in many ferrets shows as a sponsor and as a judge, and she met many great and interesting people who share the same passion as her - ferrets. Anja is always opened for suggestions and advice, so if you have something to ask or say about ferrets, feel free to contact her on Instagram, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter or support@friendlyferret.com