Black-Footed Ferret

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Basic Information

Common name: Black-Footed Ferret

Binomial Nomenclature: Mustela Nigripes (Musteline mammal of prairie regions)

Threat Level: Endangered due to its small/restricted populations


Habitat information: The black-footed ferret lives in the biomes of shrubland and greenland. They mostly rely on where their prey rome. Within the biome, they live on and below the ground where prairie dog burrows are located. Their geographical region is in the United States and Mexico; they are currently extinct in Canada.

Community Interactions: The black-footed ferret is dependent on the lives of prairie dogs. This includes the location of where they live and also their population. The ferrets will prey on these prairie dogs and take over their burrows to use for shelter and denning. To support one ferret, about 40-60 hectares of a prairie dog colony are needed.

Feeding Relationships: The black-footed ferret is a carnivore. A total of 90% of the ferrets diet is prairie dogs while the other percent is small rodents.

Niche: The black-footed ferrets niche is its predator-prey relationship with prairie dogs and controlling their population. This is important to the food chain but also humans as prairie dogs can sometimes have negative effects. They can carry disease and also make their burrows over large areas of land making it useless.

Population Dynamics: The black-footed ferret’s environment has been affected by density dependent factors. One of them is its predator-prey relationship with the prairie dog. Another is the spread of disease among the ferrets; their prey can carry disease and plague the prairie dog population. The carrying capacity of their habitat has dropped in situations where the prairie dog population has reduced. During the 20th century, prairie dogs were known as agricultural pests and killed off, causing a decrease in the black-footed ferret’s population.

Human Impact: Humans have impacted my species in negative and positive ways. Humans killed the black-footed ferret’s main food source, the prairie dog, and caused them to nearly go extinct due to the lack of a food source. This is the reason for the black-footed ferret’s low populations. Humans have also had a good effect on these animals, though, as they have brought some of the species into captivity and tried to raise their populations this way to prevent extinction.

Cellular Respiration

Cellular Respiration: The black-footed ferret uses many organelles to carry out cellular respiration. There aren't any truly "specialized" organelles they use, but they do happen in one main place. The initial enzyme reaction takes place in the cytoplasm, but the majority of it occurs in the mitochondria. The mitochondria is known as the powerhouse of the cell, and during this process, it is responsible for the creation of chemical energy. The black-footed ferret carries out these processes in order to live and survive. Cellular respiration gives it the oxygen it needs to have the adrenaline in order to chase its prey and fight for itself.  

DNA/Cell Reproduction

Sexual Reproduction: The black-footed ferret participates in the process of sexual reproduction. It does not have any special mating rituals that scientists and researchers know about. They begin breeding between late January and early June, but it is found that higher success rates are in March and April. The organism's cells reproduce through meiosis and mitosis. In meiosis, sperm and egg cells are produced, while mitosis produces every other type of cell. Both cells pass on genetic information to their offspring.


Taxonomy of the Black-footed Ferret:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Mustelidae

Genus: Mustela

Species: M. nigripes

Related Organisms: Different types of weasels are closely related to the black-footed ferret, such as the Amazon Weasel, European Polecat, and Egyptian Weasel. On the same class level as the black-footed ferret, it is related to the Asian steppe polecat.

Special Adaptions: The black-footed ferret has developed many special adaptations. They have sharp teeth and strong jaws that are very powerful in times of defense, especially when hunting prairie dogs. Their claws are non retractable so they are always ready to react. They also have a good sense of smell, hearing, and sight (they are nocturnal) that all help them become more suited to their niche.

One adaptation of the black-footed ferret, sharp teeth.
A ferret showing its claws and teeth, ready to jump into action in a fight.


“Black-footed Ferret.” World Wildlife Fund. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2015. <>.

“Black-footed Ferret Mustela Nigripes.” Wild Earth Guardians. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2015. <>.

“Grasslands National Park.” Parks Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2015. <>.

“Mustela Nigripes.” The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, n.d. Web. 18 May 2015. <>.

“Weasel.” Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2015. <>.

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