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Ferret Colors 101

Champagne, mitt, albino -- what are the coat colors and patterns of ferrets?

By Vickie McKimmey

Ferret with colorful fabricsWhen describing a ferret’s appearance, two terms are used: color and pattern. Color refers to the color of the ferret’s guard hair, undercoat, eyes and nose. Pattern always refers to the concentration and distribution of color on the body, mask and nose. Where applicable, pattern can also refer to white markings that appear on the head or feet. In order to determine your ferret’s color you need to know the four factors that make up a ferret’s color: guard hair color, undercoat color, eye color and nose color.

Guard hairs are the longest, coarsest hairs in a ferret’s coat, forming the topcoat (or outer coat). They taper to a point and protect the undercoat from the elements. Guard hairs add sheen to the ferret’s coat. The undercoat is the very fine, fluffy hair closest to the ferret’s skin. These hairs are short and dense, which makes them highly efficient for trapping air and insulating the ferret. In the winter the undercoat is plush and thick, thus making the ferret’s color appear lighter. In the summer the undercoat is very thin to almost non-existent, and the guard hairs are shorter and coarser. This makes the ferret appear darker in the summer coat. 

For the full article, pick up the 2012 issue of Ferrets USA or click here to buy the issue.


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