According to the American Ferret Association, domesticated pet ferrets come in only eight official base fur colors: sable, albino, dark-eyed white (DEW), black, black sable, champagne, cinnamon, and chocolate.
According to Fairoak Ferrets, a renowned U.K. based ferret breeder, ferret colours can be arranged in four groups: sable (polecat), chocolate, sandy, and silver.
In both American and European fur color classification, base fur colors can be complemented by various markings such as mitts, blazes, and bibs, as well as different shades in the colors such as lighter and darker tones of black, white, grey, and brown.
On top of that, there are recognized patterns of ferret colors and markings that can further complicate ferret descriptions, including Siamese, panda, and others.
Combining base coat color, markings, shades, and patterns creates a multitude of possible ferret color variations. Additionally, ferret's coat colors can change with the season and with age.
If you are asking, "What color is my ferret?", read through our descriptions of ferret colors, check out the example pictures, and then use our handy color guide at the bottom of the page to discover what color your ferret could be according to the AFA Ferret Breed Standard.
FERRET COAT COLORS
When referring to coat colors, the guard hair is the longer hair that lays on the top and the undercoat is the shorter hair that lies closer to the skin. Sometimes you can only see the different color of the undercoat if you part the ferret's hair with your fingers to expose it.
Sable is the most common ferret coat color and the one seen most often in pictures and videos.
The guard hairs (overcoat) are warm brown and the undercoat is white or cream.
Sables have black or dark brown eyes and a light brown nose. Ferret noses are often speckled or freckled.
The guard hairs are dark black-brown with no red tones but rather a noticeable glossy black shine. The undercoat is white or cream.
The eyes are black or nearly black and the nose is very dark brown and can be speckled.
A true black ferret has guard hairs that are full black in color with no red undertones. The undercoat is white but well hidden by the overcoat.
The eyes and nose are both black.
A true albino ferret has all white hair, both guard hairs and undercoat, although a very light cream color is acceptable.
Albino ferrets are the only ferrets with ruby red or dark pink eyes and they also have a pink nose.
DARK EYED WHITE
A dark-eyed white ferret is often called a DEW. They are very similar to albino ferrets in that they have all white or light cream fur, both guard hairs and undercoat. The breed standard says that DEW's should have at least 90% white hairs with only a few grey or colored hairs mixed in.
Dark-eyed whites, as their name implies, have eyes that are dark burgundy or dark red in color and may actually appear black or brown from a distance. Their noses are preferably pink but can become darkened with age.
Champagne is sometimes called sandy. The guard hairs are tan or pale brown. The undercoat is white or cream.
The eyes range from light to dark brown and the nose can be any color between pale pink to light brown with a T marking.
The guard hairs of a chocolate ferret are a warm, rich chocolate brown. The undercoat is white or golden cream.
The eyes are brown and the nose can be pink, brown, or have a light brown T marking.
Cinnamon ferrets have guard hairs that are a rich warm reddish-brown. The undercoat is white or pale golden-white.
The eyes are dark and the nose is dark red, pink, or beige, possibly with a T marking. Cinnamon is one of the rarest ferret colors.
What about SILVER?
In the United Kingdom, there is another base ferret color called Silver. In the United States, this would be classified as a Dark Eyed White under the subcategory of Roan or possibly Marked White -- see our pattern descriptions further down.
I have a Marshall's Ferret and they told me...
Marshall's is the largest ferret breeder in the United States and most pet stores sell ferrets born at their facilities. Their webpage has information about their baby ferrets and includes this picture of their own classification of ferret colors.
You will notice that most of Marshall's colors don't conform with the American Ferret Association's breed standards. Conformation with AFA's standards is only important if you wish to show your ferret in a competition or start a breeding program. As pet store ferrets should be sterilized (spayed or neutered) before they are offered for sale, the second point is moot.
So after you've discerned your ferret's base coat color, it's time to look at patterns and markings.
A pattern is a color combination that a ferret's fur has all over its body, while a marking is an extra patch of lighter fur in a specific area. Ferrets can only have one pattern but they can have more than one marking, eg. a bib and mitts.
The standard ferret color pattern is colored guard hairs all over the body but with lesser concentration or saturation in the main body so the darker points are clearly visible. Ideally, there are no stray white hairs mixed in with the main body color. This pattern has a full or T bar mask and may also sometimes present with mitts and a bib.
A solid ferret has one color coat all over their body with no shading or white hairs mixed in. There doesn't appear to be points or a mask, although they can have mitts, a bib, or milkmouth markings.
In the U.K. there is a subcategory of solid called self which refers to a solid color ferret with white on his mouth and chin.
Siamese ferrets are sometimes called color points. The point pattern will show a distinct difference in color concentration between the body color and the points. So they look a lot like a standard ferret but the darker parts on the legs, tail, and head have a greater contrast to the lighter torso. (Just imagine the colors like a Siamese cat.)
The mask must be a thin V mask not a full or T bar mask. Champagnes and pale color points may appear to have no mask at all.
Panda ferrets should preferably have an all white head and darker color across the shoulders and hips. Mitts are present on all four feet. Sometimes these ferrets have a white tip on their tail. Pandas don't have a mask but they may have small color patches or rings around their eyes and near their ears. This ferret pattern is rare but very popular.
A roan pattern is when there are white hairs mixed in with the colored hairs all over the ferret's body. To be considered a roan, 40% to 60% of the longer guard hairs must be white. Ferrets that are called Silver or Lilac in the U.K. would be classified as White Roan in the U.S. Many roan ferrets become whiter with every shedding season until they become dark-eyed whites.
A marked pattern is any pattern that can't be classified as something else. Sometimes this is called Mutt. It could be spots, stripes, blotches, or a colored tail. As more and more ferrets are cross-bred, different patterns are emerging that haven't been named yet. These ferrets are unique!
The mask is the typical dark marking on the ferret's face that goes around his or her eyes. Albino and dark-eyed white ferrets don't have masks because they are pure white. All other ferrets can have a mask that is a similar color to their base coat. You can see how masks appear on light and dark ferrets in the picture below.
The lighter ferret on the left has a V-shaped mask that dips down in the center of the nose. The darker ferret has a T-mask or hooded mask because the dark bar connects from the nose bridge to the forehead.
Some ferret owners question if the mask is really a marking or if the white "eyebrows" and "milkmouth" are the actual markings since that fur is usually white and therefore an abnormality compared to the base fur coat color. What do you think? Comment at the bottom!
A blaze is a white marking that run from the top of the ferret's forehead down the back of its neck. The competition standard is that the white blaze must extend at least 2/3 of the way down the back of the neck.
Please note that a blaze marking is often an indicator of Waardenburgs Syndrome.
A bib is a white marking on the chest of a ferret.
Mitts are white markings on the ferret's feet. They can be just white tips on the toes, a mitten on the foot, or long stockings that go further up the leg.
A milkmouth is named such because it looks like the ferret was drinking milk. It is a white marking that surrounds the ferret's mouth.
The zipper refers to the dark line of hair down the center of the ferret's belly.
BUT WHAT COLOR IS MY FERRET?
If you're still confused about what color your ferret is, you aren't alone! Many ferret owners find the coloring classifications to be overly complicated and arbitrary. Colors are called by different names in different countries and can even vary between ferret breeders in the same country.
What one ferret owner might call a cinnamon, another might call a sandy. You may think you have a Siamese pattern ferret, while someone else might say it's just a standard sable. Of course, the most common ferret coloration is standard sable so don't be surprised if that's what your ferret looks like. They are still adorable!
It's also important to note that a ferret's color can change with the seasons and with age. So don't be too picky about coat color when choosing a ferret to be your pet. Their personality and health should be more important factors.
Let's put together everything we've learned in this article to classify your ferret's color, pattern, and markings.
1. Choose your ferrets main color from the color ranges. You can always add on "dark" or light" to your color, such as light cinnamon or dark chocolate.
2. Choose your ferret's pattern: standard, solid, Siamese, panda, roan, marked.
3. Add any special markings your ferret has: mitts, bib, blaze, milkmouth.
You may come up with something like:
"I have a solid black ferret with a milkmouth."
"Look at that cute sable panda ferret!"
"My new ferret is a Champagne Siamese."
After all of this complicated nitpicking about colors and patterns and shades and markings, there is one last important thing...
It doesn't matter what color your ferret is. JUST LOVE THEM! ❤️
Please feel free to comment below if you found this article interesting. If you think we've made a mistake, please comment and we will try to correct it.
For more information about ferret colors, please click thru to our references.