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Black Sable Ferret: Info, Care, Pictures, Habitat & Traits

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

Black sable ferret sitting on the grass

A Black Sable ferret is a slight color variation of the domestic ferret. Therefore, it isn’t a different species—it’s just a color variation. Besides this ferret’s appearance, it is exactly like any other type of ferret.

These ferrets are primarily black or dark in color. They have a sable pattern, hence their name. A “sable pattern” includes a mix of dark and light guard hairs, which creates a somewhat checkered, uneven appearance.

Breed Overview

Size: Small
Weight: 1.5–2.5 pounds
Lifespan: 6–10 years
Suitable for: Those looking for an active, social pet
Temperament: Playful, curious, social

Like all ferrets, Black Sable ferrets are intelligent and honed in on their environment. They love to explore and can be quite mischievous. They also need tons of interaction from their humans, as they can get bored very easily. They’re best suited to those who can remain home with them for much of the time.

Black Ferret Characteristics



How Much Do These Ferrets Cost?

Because of their unique coloration, Black Sable ferrets tend to cost a bit more than your average ferret. However, they’re still generally inexpensive at $100 to $300. Ferrets from reputable breeders tend to be higher in this price range, but they also come with vaccinations and health guarantees. Plus, they’re often very socialized, which can improve their temperament. Kits are usually more expensive than adults, too. Kits require more care and attention, but many people looking for a ferret want a baby.

If a ferret has received vaccinations and a clean bill of health, the cost may be higher. You’re paying for the added veterinary costs. Breeders that don’t provide any beginning vaccinations are usually cheaper, but your vet costs at the beginning will be higher, too.

hand carrying a black sable ferret
Image Credit: Piskova Photo, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the Black Sable Ferret

Black Sable ferrets have the same temperament and intelligence as other domestic ferrets. They’re known for being inquisitive, with a natural inclination to explore. They will get into everything; that’s just how ferrets are. They will investigate just about anything, making them entertaining companions.

Furthermore, ferrets are also social animals. They enjoy interacting with humans and other ferrets. When properly socialized, they can be extremely friendly. They’re one of the more affectionate, loving pets out there, and they can form strong bonds with their whole family. However, their social nature also means that they can become lonely or bored if left alone for an extended period. We highly recommend them for owners who tend to spend a lot of time at home.

Black Sable ferrets are thought to be intelligent animals, though measuring intelligence is often challenging. They can pick up on commands with proper training and will learn the routine of the household. However, they are not as trainable as dogs, as they simply weren’t bred to be obedient.

They can learn to use a litterbox, which makes caring for them a bit easier. They can be trained to perform fairly simple tricks, but more advanced training is typically not practical.

Do Black Sable Ferrets Make Good Pets? 👪

Yes, these ferrets can make great pets for the right person. They’re very playful, entertaining pets that can be very fun to own. There is never a dull moment with these ferrets, and watching them explore their environment can be very entertaining.

Plus, these ferrets are extremely social and bond strongly with their owners. They can become affectionate companions when properly socialized. While these ferrets need space to play and explore, they don’t require a huge space. They can be comfortably housed for much of the time in a well-designed cage or playpen.

That said, these ferrets can be a lot of work. They need regular playfulness and interaction. Otherwise, they can become very bored and lonely. They require a time commitment that not all owners are ready to meet.

Does This Ferret Get Along with Other Pets?

Ferrets can sometimes get along with other pets. It depends a lot on the particular animal. As social animals, the vast majority of ferrets love to hang out with members of their own species. They will often play, groom, and sleep together. Many people keep more than one ferret for this reason.

Dogs can also get along with ferrets, especially small toy dogs. However, not all dog breeds are suitable for ferrets. Larger dogs with hunting instincts will likely see these ferrets as prey. Cats are the same way. While they may be able to exist peacefully alongside each other, they sometimes see the ferrets as potential prey. Ferrets tend to try and eat small rodents and birds, so they aren’t a safe companion for these small pets.


Things to Know When Owning a Black Sable Ferret:

Food & Diet Requirements 🥩

Proper nutrition is vital for the health of your Black Sable ferret. They have specific dietary needs and a unique metabolism that makes them a bit different from cats and dogs. We recommend feeding a high-quality ferret food—look for commercially available kibble for ferrets.

Avoid using cat or dog kibble, as this doesn’t meet the nutritional needs of a ferret. Ferrets are carnivores, similar to cats. They need very little plant matter in their food. Instead, they need 32% to 40% protein from animal sources. Whole meat diets can be great if they are nutritionally balanced. However, they are often harder to do than commercially available kibble.

black sable ferret walking outdoor
Image Credit: Piskova Photo, Shutterstock

Enclosure Requirements 🏠

Ferrets can be allowed to roam the house when supervised. However, it is best to keep them in a cage when you aren’t home or cannot watch them. Otherwise, they can get themselves into a lot of trouble.

A spacious cage is best, as it allows room for your ferret to play and explore. A multi-level cage is recommended, as it provides more room than a single-story cage. You should purchase a cage that is at least 24 inches by 24 inches in floor space—not counting the extra space for climbing.

Bar spacing is also important. The bars should be close enough to prevent your ferret from squeezing through or getting stuck. Bar spacing of around ½ to 1 inch is preferable. A solid floor is required to prevent paw injuries—a wire floor is not suitable.

Provide plenty of enrichment for your ferret, too. Tunnels, toys, and hammocks are all great options. These pets are extremely intelligent, so they can get bored easily. A litter box is also recommended. Ferrets are a bit like cats in that they are naturally inclined to use a litter box. While some training may be necessary, it usually doesn’t take too long.

Be sure to provide your ferret with somewhere to sleep and plenty of hangouts. You want your ferret to feel safe and secure.

Exercise & Sleeping Needs 🛌

Both playtime and sleeping are vital for your ferret to stay healthy. Because these ferrets are so active, they require tons of daily exercise to stay healthy and prevent boredom. Plan to play with your ferret daily, setting aside time each day to interact with them. Toys, tunnels, and games are all great ways to keep them entertained.

Provide them with plenty of room to explore, too. Remove potential hazards, like small objects that they might swallow. Rotate the toys your ferret has access to for boredom prevention. When you bring out an old toy for the first time in months, it will be like it’s new all over again.

Ferrets tend to sleep a lot. They can sleep for a significant portion of the day, so designing a proper sleep space is important. Include hammocks, sleep sacks, and other cozy bedding to help your ferret find somewhere cozy and safe to sleep. Providing a dedicated sleep box can also be helpful.

Unlike us, ferrets have irregular sleep patterns. They do not sleep in one long stretch throughout the night. Therefore, it’s important to allow them to sleep whenever they feel tired.

male Black sable ferret in bed
Image Credit: Couperfield, Shutterstock

Training 🥎

Black Sable ferrets aren’t the most trainable animals out there. However, they are trainable to some extent. They are intelligent and pick up on things rather quickly. That said, they are also independent and don’t have tons of obedience.

You can train them similarly to how you would a dog or cat and positive reinforcement training works best. It’s important to reward them with treats and praise whenever they do something even slightly right. Small steps are important to celebrate. Keep all training sessions relatively brief. You want to end on a positive note, and ferrets don’t have very long attention spans. Be patient, as it will probably take you quite a while before your ferret learns any cues.

You can also train your ferret to walk on a leash. For the most part, this mostly involves getting them used to the leash. Start indoors with a harness that fits snugly (but not too tight). Then, gradually introduce the leash and let your ferret explore under your supervision.

Ferrets are usually receptive to litter box training. Place a litter box in a corner of their cage, encourage them to use it, and reward them when they do. Gradually, you can extend this training to their play area.

Grooming ✂️

While ferrets are pretty low maintenance, they do require some grooming. You should not bathe your ferret unless absolutely necessary. They have natural oils on their skin and fur, which help them maintain their coat’s health. The bath can get rid of these oils, which can cause more harm than good.

You’ll need to trim your ferret’s nails regularly. If they become too long, the nails can cause discomfort and even injury. Ear cleaning may also be required if your ferret shows signs of dirt buildup. A damp cotton ball can be used to clean the outer ear. Never insert anything into the ear canal.

Ferrets can also develop dental problems, so you should work to keep their teeth clean. Often, providing them with items to chew on, like safe toys, can help keep their teeth clean.

male Black sable ferret sniffing
Image Credit: Couperfield, Shutterstock

Lifespan and Health Conditions 🏥

These ferrets are pretty healthy. They usually live for 6 to 10 years, depending on their genetics and environment. Regular veterinary health care is important to catch any potential illnesses early and get the proper treatment. Diet can also play a role, so be sure to feed a ferret-specific food.

Adrenal disease is relatively common in ferrets, especially older ones. It is caused by an overproduction of hormones in the adrenal glands. Symptoms can include hair loss, itchiness, and weight loss. Ferrets are also prone to insulinoma, which is a condition that causes the pancreas to produce too much insulin. This condition leads to low blood sugar levels.

Minor Conditions
  • Hairballs
  • Ear infections
Serious Conditions
  • Adrenal disease
  • Insulinoma
  • Gastrointestinal issues, dental problems


Male vs. Female

The males and females of this species tend to be extremely similar, especially if they are spayed or neutered. We highly recommend spaying or neutering your ferret unless you plan to breed them, which should only be done under the direction of an experienced breeder.

If not fixed, females will go into heat, which can result in changes in behavior. They may be more vocal and restless. Neutered males tend to be very calm, while unneutered males may have increased aggressive behavior and territorial behaviors.

3 Little-Known Facts About Black Sable Ferrets

1. Black Sable ferrets aren’t born dark

Instead, these ferrets are born with a lighter coat color that gradually darkens as they get older. Their fur may even appear brownish when they are young, only deepening to a darker color later.

2. They may have unique markings

While Black Sable ferrets have a dominant dark coat color, they can also exhibit subtle variations in their markings. Some individuals might have faint patterns, such as masks on their faces or different shades along their bodies.

3. They may experience seasonal molting

Ferrets, including Black Sables, experience seasonal molting. During spring and fall, they might shed their undercoat in what’s often referred to as “blowing their coat.” This can result in increased fur shedding for a period of time as the old fur is replaced by new growth.

These ferrets may also look a bit different during this time, as their loose undercoat may show through their guard hairs.


Final Thoughts

Black Sable ferrets are extremely similar to other ferrets, except they have a slightly different coat color. This variation is what makes them unique. Beyond that, they act like any other ferret and have similar needs.

While ferrets can make great pets, they can also be a bit of a handful. They require a lot of work, as they are very energetic and social. Therefore, they work best for those who have plenty of time to devote to these furry companions.

Featured Image Credit: Julie Gaia, Shutterstock

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