Ferret Kits Look ‘Fur’-tastic at One Month Old

This update is written by Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute biologist Adrienne Crosier and carnivore keeper Victoria Lake.

Black-footed ferrets are named after their distinctive dark-furred feet, which start to appear around the time they are 2 weeks old. Potpie’s three kits were right on schedule for this milestone! On the Black-footed Ferret Cam, viewers can see the change on the kits’ feet — and may start to see their mask-like facial markings too. The rest of their fur also started to change from the white peach fuzz they are born with to a thicker and tan color typical of adults.

These kits are also right on track in weight as well! On June 16, the males weighed 167 grams and 163 grams, while the female weighed 153 grams. Each are about the weight of a hockey puck. We are now weighing the kits on a weekly basis to monitor their growth and development.

One exciting development we noted in the last week was their deciduous, or baby, teeth growing in. We can see the teeth when the kits open their mouths and webcam viewers may notice the kits chewing on stuff in the den, including Potpie and each other!

These teeth are important for when the kits start sampling meat from Potpie’s diet. While we have not seen any of the kits eating from mom’s bowl, they have started to smell and check it out! Eating meat is an acquired taste, so as they begin to transition to eating it fully, the kits will continue to nurse for a few more months.

Potpie's three black-footed ferret kits lay vertically on a keepers cupped hands. Two of the kits lay side-by-side in the palm, while the third lays on top of the one in the back.

Two of the kits had a small eye infection a couple weeks ago and were treated with antibiotics and eye drops for several days. Both quickly recovered and even started to open one of their eyes! The female has her left eye partly open and one of her brother’s has his right.

Black-footed ferret kits don’t normally start opening their eyes until around 5 weeks old. So, this is a little early for these two kits, but it happens on occasion and is not a cause for concern. For the moment, it does help us distinguish each kit on the webcam!

One of Potpie's kits lays across a keepers' hand. The hand is covered in a blue latex glove.

The kits ears have just started to open, but you can only tell this if you look really close. As the kits grow and their ears open more, it will become more obvious. Keep your eyes on the Black-Footed Ferret Cam in the coming weeks — as their senses open to the world, they will be ready to explore and take their first steps!

Can’t get enough of this ferret family? Be sure to stay tuned for more updates on the kits and follow the journey on the Zoo’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.