What's the Difference Between a Ferret and a Weasel?

Ferrets and weasels are both excellent pets to have, depending on what personality you have. Deciding between getting one tubular pet or another...

What's the Difference Between a Ferret and a Weasel?

Ferrets and weasels are both excellent pets to have, depending on what personality you have. Deciding between getting one tubular pet or another is a daunting task, especially considering they both have their own adorable little quirks that set them apart from the other.

Whether you are attempting to pick which one you want to join your life or simply want to know how to distinguish the two better, we will be going over their differences and a few of their similarities!

In this article, we will be going over them separately to start things off, draw a more definitive line between the two, and end things with how closely matched they are. The differences between these little critters might just surprise you!

Comparing and Contrasting In a Nutshell:

If you wish to have a quick comparison and contrasting between both a ferret and weasel, then we have created this quick and easy chart for you to go over. However, there is more of a description down below for those who wish to learn more in-depth information:

FerretsWeaselsAverage length (adult):13 to 15 inches4 to 12 inchesAverage weight (adult):4.5 to 5 pounds1 to 13 ouncesLifespan:5 to 10 years4 to 6 yearsExercise:2+ hours everyday2+ hours everydayGrooming needs:MinimalMinimalFamily-friendly:YesYesPet friendly (to other pets):Mostly, depending on the petSometimes friendlyTrainability:ModeratePoor

Ferret Overview:

Ah, the ferret, the larger of our two long friends. With enthusiasm for getting into mischief (as well as the odd pair of pants or two). Aside from being more prominent, the ferret has a longer tail, but size does not always mean a warmer disposition. Let us find out why.


By default, most ferrets are innately social creatures that benefit heavily from being exposed to other people and animals, specifically when domesticated. Despite their slightly fragile bodies, they are shockingly playful and constantly getting into things (sometimes to their own deficit.)

Because of this trait, though, they make for some relatively easygoing pets and can self-play when their owners or friends are busy. This self-play also makes having company come over a breeze as they don't get upset from being caged or away from trouble. 

This curious nature they have makes them a good pet for kids if you take the time to educate your little ones on how to handle this little creature safely and respect safety measures to make sure it is appropriately handled. In most circumstances, they make excellent playmates for other animals.

Still, their predatory nature can come back into focus if their playmates are more petite than they are, so always supervise them in these cases. Some of their better qualities include being able to learn tricks and living with bigger pets like cats and dogs. The most notable of these tricks involve sitting on their owners' heads and shoulders or coming when called.

Health & Care

Ensuring your furry friend's well-being should be of the greatest concern. As such, regular vet visits will guarantee they don't contract any potentially dangerous diseases and keep their digestive tract in good condition.

The ferrets' nails are also of slight concern due to how active they can be. The nails can be damaging and can cause damage to your furniture, so keeping them clipped neatly is essential, especially if you enjoy having your furniture unscathed! 

Lastly, their diet should consist of a high fit, rich protein diet, so meats such as beef, turkey, chicken, and the like will suffice nicely. If you have a stronger stomach personally, mice and rats will give them more of that predatory fulfillment they require, but this is entirely up to you.

Physical Features

On average, ferret's are more prominent than weasels in almost every way. With slightly longer legs and a tail, these creatures can move incredibly quickly despite their size. Visually speaking, they typically have blackish or brown coats sprinkled with light beige or cream-colored areas. Larger size aside, Ferrets often tend to be thinner overall than weasels in most cases.

Weasel Overview:

If we said ferrets are more prominent on average, then this tiny contender is picking up the mantle of being the smaller of the two, but the size isn't everything to these cute little guys because they make what they lack in mass; they make up for in sass!

Puns aside, weasels are notorious for being ravenous despite their small size in the hunter area, occasionally taking on prey ten times bigger than they are in some cases.


Weasels aren't quite as easygoing as ferret's and certainly not as cuddly. Due to their high predatory drive, they are definitely not the best choice for having smaller animals around.

Going right along with this predatory train of thought, quite a few states have outlawed having weasels for pets because of how dangerous and un-domesticated they can be. These creatures do not mesh well with other animals, certainly not ones even remotely in the same size category, so puppies, kittens, or anything of the same stature should be fully matured before welcoming these fierce friends into your home.

Another trait to be wary of is the weasel's need for companionship. More often than not, weasels adapt better when they have another weasel to keep them company and grow with. 

Health & Care

Due to their diet that consists primarily of freshly killed prey, weasels do not fall susceptible to most of the common disorders that pets with highly processed commercial foods experience. 

Since most states consider weasels illegal, there is not a large market for bedding and other habitats or food alternatives. Given that information, making use of ferret-based products will be your best bet for providing a comfy living situation for your weasel. 

Physical Features

Due to their smaller size, weasels usually have about half the lifespan of a ferret. You can expect your little friend to live for around 4 to 6 years, with them only being active for roughly two hours of playtime, thanks to their regular sleeping schedules.

Their coats are very similar to ferrets as well, although the notorious odor ferrets are known for is somewhat minimalized in comparison. Your standard weasel coloring is a dark brown coat on their back and a cream-colored underbelly with adorable little pink paws. They also have cute brown noses.

Which Animal Best Suits Your Needs?

© Pet Keen

Taking everything above into consideration, the best summary would be that for a more solitary individual, a weasel could make a great companion assuming your state allows it. Still, if you wanted a more snuggly tube-shaped animal, then the ferret wins this, hands down.

Whether or not your house has small children or smaller animals is another big consideration to consider when making this choice, so it is definitely worth taking your time on picking one or the other!

Final Thought

Both animals have the potential of leading a fulfilling life in captivity, but it will take much more effort to ensure a weasel leads the free and often predatory based lifestyle it requires.

Weasels are not domesticated and are still considered wild animals even when in captivity, so to an extent, you may never know entirely what one may do, or how it might act in any given circumstance, so be sure to handle them with safety being the priority.

These creatures deserve respect and attention needed, and if your lifestyle is too busy to accommodate these specific needs, they truly shouldn't be kept as pets!

Ferrets, on the other hand, are much more easygoing, friendly, and can be trained to go to the bathroom in cat litter, among other luxuries our other little friend isn't quite up to snuff for, all in all, think it through, and make the right choice for you, and your home.