Assessing spatial activity in captive feral ferrets, Mustela furo L. (Camivora: Mustelidae)

G. Medina-Vogel, G. J. Hickling, B. K. Clapperton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


We observed eight male and five female feral ferrets (Mustela furo) directly and by video recording in an outdoor enclosure consisting of a 36 m2 arena and six dens and 13 tunnels. We determined the sizes of main ranges and core areas, the overlaps in areas and intensity of use, the patterns of use of dens and core areas, and the extent of temporal overlap between individuals. We assessed the effect of sex, grouping, density, social status and observation period on these spatial patterns. From May 1995 to December 1996, five social groups (two males, two females, one male with two females, two males with one female, and three males) were tested. The spatial patterns identified were consistent with previous studies of free‐ranging feral ferrets in New Zealand. Range sizes of males and females were similar. Dominant males had more temporal overlap with females than did subordinate males. There was less den sharing within sexes than between sexes. We conclude that intrasexual territoriality was demonstrated, and that the described methodology is an effective means of studying, in captivity, aspects of ferret social organisation and behaviour that are difficult to observe in free‐ranging animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Zoology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Behaviour
  • Captivity
  • Core area
  • Denning
  • Ferret
  • Home range
  • Intrasexual territoriality
  • Mustela furo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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