Ferrets are a domesticated ancestor of the Eastern European Polecat. They have been domesticated for over 2000 years, and are the third most popular pet mammal behind the dog and cat. Most ferrets are short-haired, but there is a long-haired variety known as "angora" ferrets. Ferrets are classified by their coloring and marking patterns.
- Sable - Sables are the most common coloring for ferrets and are recognizeable for their dark brown bandit mask, warm, deep brown guard hairs, white to golden undercoat, brown eyes and a light brown, speckled/mottled brown, or brown 'T' outline nose.
- Black Sable - The black sable still has the bandit mask, but darker black guard hairs, white to cream undercoat, black eyes and a ash blackish brown through mottled nose.
- Chocolate - Chocolates are a lighter brown version of the sable, with a brown mask and dark eyes. They have milk chocolate colored guard hairs, white to golden undercoat, brown eyes and a pink nose.
- Champagne - A champagne is a lighter version of chocolates. They may not have an obvious mask, or may have a very light brown one. Their eyes can be wither black or burgundy eyes (also known as "cranberry" eyes). They have tan guard hairs, white to cream undercoat, and a beige, pink or pink with a beige or light brown 'T' outline nose.
- Cinnamon - These are like the champagne but with more red than brown.
- Black Roan - Also known as "silver" they are white with spots or patches of a silver that is actually charcoal or grey guard hairs with black tips. Their undercoat is white, they have no mask, black nose, and dark or cranberry eyes.
- Albino - Albinos are white with red eyes. Their eys are not literally red, but they have no pigment, which allows the reddish retina to show through. They have white to cream guard hairs, white to cream undercoat, and a pink nose.
- Dark Eyed White - White ferrets also come with dark eyes and so are not true albinos. They have white to cream guard hairs, white to cream undercoat, brown to burgundy eyes and a pink nose.
- Black - One of the rarer colors in pet ferrets are is the black. The guard hairs are truly black, theough they have a white to golden undercoat, black eyes and a black or near black nose.
There are also separate markings that can appear on any of the above but the white ferrets:
- Mitts - White paws
- Hooded or Banded - Band over the eyes that sometimes continues over the head.
- Siamese - Eye rings and a line or "zipper" running down the underside. Also dark "points" (socks and tail).
- Panda - White head, belly and feet.
- Blaze - White bib and head with colored streak or blaze
If your ferret has a color but also a pattern, you call it a color-pattern; for example, if you have a black ferret with white paws, you would call it a Black-mitt.