Are Ferrets Rodents?

Many people assume that all mammals that are smaller than a cat or a dog automatically fall into the category of a rodent, but this is definitely not the case for ferrets. This article will discuss what a rodent is, as well as why a ferret is not classified as such.

What Is A Rodent?

The easiest way to distinguish a rodent is by their front teeth – the incisors. A rodent’s front teeth, both on the top and the bottom, always grow, which means that these animals have to constantly chew in order to keep their teeth at a comfortable an acceptable length. Additionally, rodents do not have canine teeth.

Rodents are omnivorous, eating mainly plants ­– grass, seeds, cones, etc. – but also bugs, meat, and some will scavenge dead matter.

Common rodents are mice, rats, guinea pigs, beavers, squirrels, chipmunks, to name a few.

How Is A Ferret Different Than A Rodent?

The most obvious difference at first glance is that ferrets’ teeth are very different to rodents’ teeth. Ferrets are carnivores – they have large canine teeth, which are important in the wild as they need strong teeth to catch and consume their prey. By comparison, their incisors are very small, which is completely different to rodents’ teeth.

What Family Do Ferrets Belong To?

Ferrets belong to the mustelid family, which includes weasels, otters, badgers, polecats, wolverines, minks among others. These animals are predatory animals, which shouldn’t come as a surprise if you have ever seen two ferrets playing together. It may seem like they are incredibly rough with each other, wrestling, biting, and tackling, but ferrets have thick skin that is incredibly hard to break.

A word of warning: Since ferrets are carnivores, ferrets and rodents shouldn’t be allowed to play together. Ferrets will see rodents as prey … and even if they didn’t, their play is so rough it would kill most rodents!

Another feature of the mustelid family is that many of them have anal scent glands, which contributes to their strong musty odor.


Ferrets are mustelids, not rodents! Even though ferrets seem small and delicate, ferrets are not docile, meat eating rodents that they are commonly confused for. They need a diet high in meat and fat, and should never be allowed to “play” with your favourite rodents!! If you are considering bringing a ferret into your home, check out our other articles to help you prepare for bringing a new friend (or two!) into your home.