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Do Ferrets Kill Snakes? (Yes, They Love Them!)

Yes, ferrets can kill snakes and eat them too. Ferrets are obligate carnivores, and they are also predators to some animals. They eat rodents, birds, and also snakes. 

A ferret in its nest
Ferrets kill and eat snakes in the wild

In captivity, ferrets usually eat prepared food. Some pet owners feed them with live mice and other animals like fish because ferrets can swim. They do so in the wild, and snakes found in the water are no match for a ferret.

Disclaimer: This is information for entertainment and educational purposes only. Do not approach a wild animal and keep your distance. Only professionals should handle wild animals. Seek professional help immediately if you have been bitten or otherwise harmedConsult your local wildlife authority for the right advice for your situation and locality.

What Animals can a Ferret Kill?

Ferrets can kill a lot of animals. They kill mice, rats, rabbits, insects, birds, and snakes in their natural habitat. They also eat eggs. 

Despite their ability to kill, they are also prey to other animals in the wild. Some examples of their predators are owls, hawks, and eagles. Some larger mammals also hunt them, like coyotes and badgers.

Sometimes, ferrets find themselves in a bad spot. A rattlesnake that is hiding in an ambush will not hesitate in killing a ferret. 

While rabbits are the main diet of ferrets, it will kill anything that it thinks it can defeat. In urban areas, officials consider ferrets as pests. They can become an invasive species and devastate an ecology. For example, ferrets are unwanted in New Zealand.

Ferret showing its teeth
Ferrets have sharp, needle-like teeth that can puncture a snake’s tough skin

Will a Snake Eat a Ferret?

A ferret is not usually preyed upon by snakes in the wild. Although ferrets also live in areas where there are snakes, they are bigger than most snakes and snakes know ferrets are a dangerous foe to take on.

A ferret can grow up to five inches in height and 20 inches in length. 

They are fast and aggressive animals. Because of the size advantage, it is often the ferret that eats the snake, not the other way around. 

One exception to the rule, of course, is if a ferret meets a big snake like the python. Pythons may be large, but not all of them are gigantic. Some can grow up to 30 feet. If this is the snake a ferret meets in the wild, the ferret does not stand a chance.

What will Kill a Ferret?

The ferret has many natural predators. Although there is a balance of prey and predators in the wild, domesticated ferrets in captivity are vulnerable if released back in the wild. 

Below are some of the predators of the ferret: 

  • Golden Eagle – the golden eagle is a bird of prey that has golden-brown plumage. They are highly agile while in flight, and they possess speed. They prey on ferrets, hares, rabbits, and ground squirrels. 
  • Owls – these birds of prey mostly hunt mammals and insects. They also hunt other birds. Some of them specialize in hunting fish. They also eat ferrets in the wild. 
  • Badgers – badgers are omnivores, and yet ferrets are part of their diet. A fun fact is that a ferret is a type of badger. Badgers kill ferrets, but many of these are just random encounters. 
  • Bobcats – a bobcat belongs to the cat family, and people also call it the red lynx. It is native to North America and can survive for a long time without food. However, if food is abundant, it will eat heavily. 

Ferrets are also prone to diseases. One thing that can easily wipe them out is the Sylvatic plague. People also call it the Black Death.

The Sylvatic plague is a bacterial disease that the ferrets get from fleas. Those that want to conserve the ferret population have ways to inoculate them. They bait ferrets in the wild with peanut butter laced with oral vaccines.  

More Animals that Eat Snakes:

Can a Ferret Kill a Rattlesnake?

Yes, a ferret can kill a rattlesnake. Its hunting technique is similar to that of mongoose.

The ferret, however, will launch its attacks on the rattlesnake’s body again and again. 

A ferret is fast. The repeated bites to the rattlesnake can cause severe damage to the snake. The ferret will also attempt to bite the rattlesnake’s head where it is most vulnerable.

In the end, the snake will succumb to death. 

A ferret in a cage
Although wild ferrets can kill snakes, pet ferrets are usually more interested in playing or sleeping

Are Ferrets Immune to Snake Venom?

No, ferrets are not immune to snake venom. However, they are fast and agile, and these are the tools they use to hunt down venomous snakes. 

Some animals are immune to snake venom, some of which are listed below: 

  • California ground squirrel
  • Hedgehog
  • Honeybadger
  • Mongoose
  • Opossum
  • Garden dormouse
  • Secretary bird

When ferrets attack, they are highly cautious. They time their bites perfectly, and the venomous snake is practically helpless. If the ferrets hunt in groups, the snake does not stand any chance at all. 

Mongoose vs Ferret and Weasel

A weasel is an animal that belongs to the genus Mustela. A ferret is a type of weasel, as both belong to the family Mustilidae

The ferret has many species, including the domesticated weasel, one that came from the European polecat, Mustela putorius

A mongoose, on the other hand, belongs to a different family, the Herpestidae. Although they look similar to ferrets and weasels, careful observation shows longer tails and sharper snouts. They also have bigger bodies than ferrets and weasels.

Ferret vs Snake: Who Will Win? 

Generally speaking, the ferret wins all the time. They are aggressive and fast. They possess the speed that even venomous snakes cannot anticipate. 

The only way that a snake could win this fight is through ambush or sheer size. For example, a ferret is no match against an anaconda. However, they will not meet as they lie in different regions. 

Small and medium-sized snakes will never win in a direct fight. But in an ambush, rattlesnakes will win against a ferret. 

A ferret sleeping in a bed
Pet ferrets look cute and cuddly, but in the wild they are ferocious and cunning predators

Summary: Do Ferrets Kill Snakes?

Ferrets kill and eat snakes. Although snakes can do the same, only the big ones can take on a ferret. Pet owners know that ferrets are voracious carnivores, and they will attack snakes if they see one. 

Ferrets are not at the top of the predatory food chain. They have predators like eagles, owls, hawks and even their own kind, the badger. 

Between a ferret and a small or medium snake, the snake does not stand a chance, even if it has venom. Big snakes, however, may just as well as eat ferrets hunting alone.

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