A ferret is any of various polecats, or weasel-like mammals, native to Europe, Asia, and North America. Specifically the name refers to a domesticated variety of ferret (Mustela putorius furo), which was developed from the European polecat and which has been used for centuries to flush rats and rabbits from burrows so that hunters or dogs can kill them. Even without training, ferrets are good hunters and attack viciously. They are very quick and usually kill their prey by biting at the base of the skull.
   The domesticated ferret reaches a length of about 22 inches, including its 6-inch-long tail. It has a slender agile body, a relatively long muscular neck, and short legs. Although the animals sometimes have dark hair and eyes like polecats, most of them are yellowish white with pink eyes and a pink nose.
   A rare wild ferret, the black-footed ferret (M. nigripes), is natíve to the Great Platas and the Rocky Mountains. It grows to a length of about 2 feet, and it has yellow-brown hair and black feet.
Ferrets are classified in the order Carnivora, family Mustelidae, genus Mustela.