Defenders of Wildlife
1101 Fourteenth St.
Suite 1400
Washington, DC
20005-5605
Tel: 202-682-9400
Fax: 202-682-1331
STATUS:
Endangered
 

DESCRIPTION:
The black-footed ferret is a member of the weasel family (mustelids). It has a long neck and black markings on its face, the tip of its tail and on its feet. It is very quick and agile and is most active at night (nocturnal).
 

SIZE:
Ferrets grow up to 2 feet in length (including a 6 inch tail) and weigh approximately 2 to 3 pounds.
 

POPULATION:
Approximately one thousand black-footed ferrets live in captivity at breeding facilities, while another 200 live in the wild following releases by the federal government.
 

LIFESPAN:

Black-footed ferrets have been known to live up to 12 years in captivity.
 

RANGE:

The black-footed ferret was once found throughout the Great Plains and is now found in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and Arizona
 

HABITAT:

The black-footed ferret uses prairie dog towns for shelter and travel.

FOOD:

The ferret primarily eats prairie dogs, and occasionally eat mice and other small animals.
 

BEHAVIOR:

In the wild, black-footed ferrets spend 99 percent of their time underground. At night, they hunt for prairie dogs in their burrows.
 

OFFSPRING:

After a six-week gestation, 1 to 6 young are born in June. The young appear above ground in July and grow as large as their parents by September.

HISTORY:

Until 1981, the ferret was thought to be extinct. During that year a small population was discovered in Meeteetse, Wyoming. Today, captive-bred ferrets have been reintroduced to the in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and Arizona.
 

THREATS:
Both habitat loss and the continued decline of their prey base, the prairie dog, continue to threaten the black-footed ferret.
 

PROTECTION:
* CITES Appendix I, Endangered Species Act

*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international treaty with more than 144 member countries. Appendix I listed species cannot be traded commercially. Appendix II listed species can be traded commercially only if it does not harm their survival.

ESPECIES Fact Sheets