Ferret vs Ermine

Ferret vs Ermine: Know the Difference

Ferrets and ermines are two seemingly similar small carnivores. Due to their size and having brown fur that is relatively similar in color, they often get confused. But a closer look reveals they are two very different species.

Physical Differences

  • The ferret has a long, slim body that is mostly brown, black and white and can reach 18 to 24 inches in length, including its 6 inch tail.
  • The ermine, on the other hand, has a rounder, stockier body and its fur turns white in winter. It is typically only 6-7 inches in length, with a much shorter tail.

Behavioral Differences

  • Ferrets are strictly domestic creatures that were originally bred as working animals. They are used mainly for hunting game, as well as guard and companion animals.
  • Ermines, however, are wild animals native to Europe, Northern Africa and Asia. They are expert hunters that primarily survive on small mammals and birds.


Ferrets and ermines may be two animals that look alike, but they are in fact very different species with different behaviors and habitats. Knowing how to tell the difference between them can help you better appreciate the amazing wildlife around us.

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