Get the facts on Black-footed ferrets
Size: Adult Body length: 18 to 24 inches (with tail)
Tail length: 5 to 6
Weight: 1.5–2 lbs
Range: Historically from Southern Canada to Mexico in North America. With the loss of 98 percent of prairie dog habitat, which ferrets depend upon, they neared total extinction in the 1980s. Intensive captive breeding programs have been working to save this species.
Since 1991, federal and state agencies, in cooperation with private landowners, conservation groups, Native Americans, and the North American zoo community, have been actively reintroducing ferrets back into the wild. Beginning in Wyoming, reintroduction efforts have since expanded to sites in Montana, South Dakota, and Arizona. Proposed reintroduction sites have been identified in Colorado and Utah.
Habitat: Black-footed ferrets can be found in the short or middle grass prairies and rolling hills of North America. Each ferret typically needs about 100-120 acres of space upon which to forage for food. They live within the abandoned burrows of prairie dogs and use these complex underground tunnels for shelter and hunting.
Young (# and name: foal, calf, cub, etc.): 1-6 kits.
Gestation: 42 days. Black-footed ferrets exhibit a phenomenon known as "delayed implantation, " in which the fertilized egg does not start developing until conditions are appropriate for gestation
Diet (wild): Black-footed ferrets rely primarily on prairie dogs for food. However, they sometimes eat mice, ground squirrels, and other small animals. Normally, over 90% of a black-footed ferret's diet consists of prairie dogs, which are hunted and killed within their burrows. A black-footed ferret typically consumes between 50-70 grams of meat per day. It has been observed that black-footed ferrets only kill enough to eat, and caches of stored food are not usually found
Life span: 2-3 years in the wild, 6 years in captivity
Status (common, threatened, endangered, etc.): Endangered – Considered to be the most endangered mammal in North America.
Anatomy/Physiology (anything unique or interesting): The fur of Mustela nigripes is yellowish-buff with pale underparts. The forehead, muzzle, and throat are white; while the feet are black. A black mask is observed around the eyes, which is well defined in young black-footed ferrets. Males are generally 10% larger than females,
Habits: Black-footed ferrets are active mostly during the night, with peak hours around dusk. Ferrets reduce their activity levels in the winter, sometimes remaining underground for up to a week. Black-footed ferrets are subterranean animals that utilize prairie dog burrows for travel and shelter. Ferrets are solitary, except during the breeding season, and there is no male participation in rearing of the young. Black-footed ferrets are also territorial and will actively defend territories against other same-sex competitors. Black-footed ferrets are considered an alert, agile, and curious mammal, and are known to exhibit keen senses of smell, sight, and hearing. They rely on olfactory communication (urination, defecation) to maintain their dominance hierarchies and to aid in retracing tracks during night travel. Black-footed ferrets are vocal mammals that chatter and hiss in the wild when they have been scared or frightened