The domestic ferret is believed to be descended from the European polecat. Other polecats, such as the Steppe polecat, may have also contributed to the current domestic species. The domestic ferret is thought to have been domesticated as long ago as 63 B.C.
Domestic ferrets are members of the weasel family and are a different species than the wild black-footed ferret. They are carnivores and preferentially eat small animals such as rodents and rabbits. Some of the earliest mentions of ferrets are of them being used to hunt rabbits. They may also have been used for rodent control before cats became popular.