Stoat vs Ferret: What Are The Differences?

stoat vs ferret
© Couperfield/Shutterstock.com

Written by August Croft

Updated: December 15, 2022

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Even though they’re closely related, a stoat vs ferret have multiple differences from one another. However, how can you learn to tell these differences based on sight alone? And are there ways that these two animals differ that aren’t evident simply by looking at them? They may belong to the same family or genus, but these two animals share their differences!

In this article we will address those differences in detail so that you can learn what makes these animals unique and special. Stoats and ferrets differ in many ways, including their preferred diets, domesticated statuses, and their appearances. Let’s get started and talk about these two creatures now.

Comparing Stoat vs Ferret

stoat vs ferret
The average ferret is larger than a stoat, both in size and weight.
StoatFerret
GenusMustelidaeMustelidae
AppearanceShort tail, often highlighted with a black tip, especially during the winter. Coat changes to an all white shade, but is frequently found in black and brown during the rest of the yearMany different coat colors, including cream and tan; the coat stays the same throughout the year. Large eyes and more defined snout; long haired breeds are also available 
Preferred Time of DayActive in the evening and during the dayPrimarily nocturnal (active at night)
Size7 to 13 inches long; 1-2 pounds8 to 20 inches long; 2-4 pounds
Diet Mice, rabbits, voles, amphibians, and birdsMice, rats, rabbits, birds, prairie dogs

Key Differences Between Stoat vs Ferret

stoat vs ferret

Ferrets are domesticated animals, while stoats are wild animals only.

©Tom Lester/Shutterstock.com

There are many key differences between a stoat vs ferret. The average ferret is larger than a stoat, both in size and weight. Stoats are typically active in the evenings and during the day, while ferrets prefer to be active at night or during twilight or dawn hours. Ferrets are also domesticated animals, while stoats are wild animals only.

Let’s talk about these differences in more detail now.

Stoat vs Ferret: Size

A key difference between stoats and ferrets lies in their sizes. The average stoat is 7 to 13 inches long and weighs 1-2 pounds, which is smaller than the average ferret. Ferrets tend to measure 8 to 20 inches long and weigh 2-4 pounds. While you likely won’t realize these size differences unless these two animals are side by side, ferrets are usually always larger compared to stoats.

stoat vs ferret

The average stoat is 7 to 13 inches long and weighs 1-2 pounds, which is smaller than the average ferret.

©Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com

Stoat vs Ferret: Domesticated Status

Another difference between stoats and ferrets is their domesticated status. Stoats remain wild animals, while ferrets have been domesticated for close to two thousand years! There are very few wild ferrets in the world, while stoats are not recommended for pets. This is because stoats and other weasels are primarily carnivorous and aggressive individuals. 

In contrast, ferrets make ideal pets for a wide variety of people. They are small, curious, and capable of learning tricks like cats or dogs. Given that the majority of ferrets are domesticated, it is unlikely that a domesticated ferret will survive very long in the wild, while stoats are notorious for being adaptable wild animals. 

stoat vs ferret

Stoats remain wild animals, while ferrets have been domesticated for close to two thousand years!

©Couperfield/Shutterstock.com

Stoat vs Ferret: Appearance and Coat Colors

The appearance and coat colors of a stoat differ from that of a ferret. For example, stoats are often found in black or brown shades, while ferrets are found in a wide variety of colors, including cream and reddish tones. Stoats also have a short tail compared to ferrets, and they are called short-tailed weasels because of this.

Ferrets have larger eyes and a more defined snout compared to stoats. Additionally, given a ferret’s domesticated status, there are many different color combinations and variations for pet owners, rather than a stoat’s wild fur colors. You can even get ferrets that have been bred with long fur, while stoats maintain a short and thick coat ideal for cold weather.

Speaking of cold weather, stoats shed their coats twice a year and adopt an all-white coat for the winter time. Ferrets differ from stoats in this act, maintaining the same coat year round. Stoats are also easily identifiable in the winter time, as they have all white fur except for a black tip on their tails.

stoat vs ferret

Stoats are often found in black or brown shades, while ferrets are found in a wide variety of colors, including cream and reddish tones.

©Agami Photo Agency/Shutterstock.com

Stoat vs Ferret: Diet and Hunting Style

Another difference between a stoat vs ferret is their diet and hunting style. While ferrets are primarily domesticated, there are still wild ferrets that eat a slightly similar diet to stoats. However, their hunting styles differ despite them both being carnivores.

For example, stoats eat mice, rabbits, voles, amphibians, and birds, while ferrets eat mice, rats, rabbits, birds, and prairie dogs. Ferrets enjoy taking down animals that are larger than they are, while stoats are a bit more modest in their preferred prey. Both of these creatures are obligate carnivores, which means they must eat meat and animal protein in order to survive.

Ferrets are also incredibly sneaky in their behavior, while stoats are more cautious. Wild ferrets get creative in their eating habits, often taking eggs from nests or burrows. Stoats are capable hunters, but they prefer to use their speed when hunting other animals.

stoat vs ferret

Ferrets have larger eyes and a more defined snout compared to stoats.

©Couperfield/Shutterstock.com

Stoat vs Ferret: Preferred Time of Day 

A final difference between stoats and ferrets is their preferred time of day. Stoats are active throughout the day and night, while ferrets prefer being active at night. In fact, ferrets are largely considered crepuscular, which means they thrive during dawn and dusk hours. Domesticated ferrets may differ in their behavior from wild ferrets, but for the most part they follow this schedule as well.


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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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