Are Ferrets Related to Skunks?

Finding out whether ferrets are related to skunks is not quite the straightforward affair you might think, and the reason for that is that recent information has changed the answer. People don’t all know the most recent info on this, so the answers they give can sometimes be wrong.

The right answer is that skunks are a different family from ferrets, though for a very long time they were both considered part of the weasel family (Mustelidae).

Looking at the two, you’d be excused if you thought that they might be in the same family, but their relations aren’t as close as it seems at first.

Are Ferrets Related to Skunks?

Ferret white
Photo by PBarlowArt on Pixabay

Ferrets and skunks are part of two different families, as recent findings have shown. Ferrets are in the Mustelidae family (weasels), while Skunks are in the Mephitidae family, which is completely separate. That being said, the two families of the weasels and the skunks are both part of the superfamily of Musteloidea, so there are some things that they have in common.

Scientists changed their opinion on the classification of the skunks in the last couple of decades, as new molecular technologies emerged, allowing for a better study of this mammal. The skunk has been moved from the Mustelids family, and into their own family, called Mephitidae. This happened in the late 90s and early 2000s.

What animal family is a ferret?

Ferrets are domesticated versions of the polecat or the European ferret, and they are part of the Mustelidae family. Other members of the same family include the mink, badgers, and the stoat.

The ferret has a long body, slender, with a length of somewhere around 20 inches (50 cm). They’re relatively small otherwise, weighing only 1-2 kg (up to 4.4 lbs). They come in a variety of colours, such as black, white, brown, and usually there is a blend between these.

About skunks

two skunks standing on dry grass
Photo by Bryan Padron on Unsplash

The Skunk is part of a family of mammals called Mephitidae. Based on their skull and teeth characteristics, they are part of the superfamily of Musteloidea, where we also find the Mustelidae (ferrets).

Whether you live in a country that has the Skunk or not, you’re likely familiar with this small mammal, thanks to its ability to spray strong-smelling liquids at their enemies. They’ve been portrayed as smelly creatures in cartoons, comic books, games, or movies, and they’re world renown for this.

Do ferrets and skunks get along?

Yes, ferrets and skunks can get along just fine, and they can both be present as pets in the same household. I wouldn’t expect them to play with each other, but they get along. It might be something that needs to be trained into them, but they’ve been known to live together, so it’s something that can be taught.

While these predators will attack other small mammals, birds, amphibians, they will generally stay away from animals that are of the same size or larger.

Of course, it’s a good idea to keep them separate when feeding them, or giving them treats, just to stay on the safe side. I wouldn’t expect them to be that friendly to each other, that they would share food.