Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals

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  Carnivora · Mustelidae · Mustela nigripes

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Mustela nigripes

Black-footed Ferret

Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae

Image of Mustela nigripes
Click to enlarge. (108 kb)

Conservation Status: Endangered.

Once widespread in the grasslands and western basins of North America, by 1987 Black-footed Ferrets were thought to be extinct in the wild. Captive animals were bred in an effort to save the species, and in 1991, some were reintroduced in Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming. The Ferrets depend on prairie dogs, living in their tunnels and eating them, and the young are born in prairie dog tunnels. Black-footed Ferrets are mostly nocturnal and seldom seen. The best chance of seeing them is in mid- to late summer, after the young begin to be active aboveground.

Also known as:

Average: 534 mm males; 501 mm females
Range: 490-600 mm males; 479-518 mm females

Average: 1,034 g males; 703 g females
Range: 915-1,034 g males; 645-850 g females


Audubon, J. J., and J. Bachman,, 1851.  The viviparous quadrupeds of North America, p. 297.  V.G. Audubon, New York, 2:1-334. 


Mammal Species of the World (opens in a new window).

Mammalian Species, American Society of Mammalogists' species account *
* PDF reader available here (opens in a new window).

Distribution of Mustela nigripes

Image of Mustela nigripes
Click to enlarge. (15kb)