Do you worry about what to feed your ferret? Providing your furry friend with the most nutritional food will make for a healthy, happy pet.
Ferrets have a high metabolic rate and need to eat several small meals a day. They are carnivorous, so they require a diet high in protein.
- Nutritional Requirements for Ferrets
- 16 Foods Your Ferret Can and Can’t Eat
- Foods Ferrets Can Eat
- Foods Ferrets Can’t Eat
- Change It Up!
- Treat Your Ferret
- Treats You Can Give Your Ferret
- How Often Should I Feed My Ferret?
- Food for Baby Ferrets (Kits)
- What Should My Ferret Drink?
- Final Thoughts
Nutritional Requirements for Ferrets
In order to feed your ferret with the most balanced diet, you must understand their nutritional needs. Being obligate carnivores, ferrets need a meat-based diet. You can find the correct nutrients in foods that are rich in:
- Meat-based proteins
- Vitamin E
- Amino Acids
If you feed your ferret commercial ferret pellets, it needs to contain 30% protein and 20% fat. Anything less and your ferret won’t be getting the proper daily intake of nutrients it requires.
16 Foods Your Ferret Can and Can’t Eat
Foods Ferrets Can Eat
You can feed your ferret many foods, but you should always ensure they have the correct nutritional value to maintain a healthy, long life.
The most popular food for ferrets is pellets made explicitly for them. It is always best to read the list of ingredients before purchasing pellets. The ingredients should list from highest to lowest in quantity, and you want to make sure that chicken or lamb are the first ingredients on the list. Avoid pellets with high amounts of grain or corn.
In smaller, more rural areas, it might be hard to find ferret food, so most people feed their ferrets’ cat food.
Although this is sufficient, you will need to add fatty acid supplements to your ferret’s diet. You can purchase these supplements at a pet store. Kitten food will be your best choice, as it is higher in protein content than adult cat food.
Raw Eggs are a perfectly healthy food to feed your ferret. They are rich in vital nutrients. They will improve your ferret’s coat and skin and reduce the risks of hairballs during their shedding period.
While eggs are very nutritious, they are also very rich and could cause constipation if fed too often. An egg should be given to your ferret only once a week.
Chicken livers are the perfect treat for your ferret. They are rich in fatty acids as well as protein. They should only be fed once a week as they are very rich and could cause stomach issues if eaten in large quantities.
Chicken wings should be fed raw with bones and all. Firstly your ferret will enjoy pulling the meat off the bones. Secondly, eating the bones is essential to maintaining the oral health of your ferret and is packed with calcium.
Bones should only be given raw. Cooked bones could splinter and injure your ferret.
Feeding raw is the best source of nutrition you can provide your ferret. Mice are easily obtainable at reptile pet stores. Eating mice provides a high protein diet, and your ferret will love eating them.
Bone meal powder is an epitome source of calcium and can be sprinkled over the food you feed your ferret. Another alternative is crushed eggshells.
Pork can be fed to ferrets, but be cautious, as it is often infected with Trichinella. If you want to feed your ferret pork, make sure it is from a good source and of high quality.
Foods Ferrets Can’t Eat
There are many foods ferrets will struggle to digest and might cause intestinal issues. Foods that are dense in complex carbohydrates or sugar should NEVER be given to your ferret.
You should avoid giving your ferret peanut butter at all costs. Peanut butter contains a lot of sugar and salt that is bad for a ferret’s digestive tract. Diets full of sugar and carbohydrates could cause diarrhea, certain cancers, and other intestinal problems.
Ferrets should not eat bananas. Fruits, in general, should never be given to ferrets. Ferrets have sensitive digestive systems that cannot process certain foods.
Their small digestive tracks struggle to digest foods high in fiber like bananas.
Definitely not! Chocolate is poisonous to ferrets. Other foods that might poison your ferret are licorice, corn, raisins, and onions. Keep these items far away from them.
Apples can harm your ferret as they are complex and can cause intestinal blockages.
Your ferret should never eat seeds or nuts as they will not be able to digest them.
Although vegetables are good for us, they are harmful to ferrets. Vegetables contain too much fiber that your ferret will not be able to digest.
Bacon is a big No-No! It is processed with salt and sugar, which is harmful to your ferret. Too much salt and sugar and lead to your ferret’s blood sugar level rising and could cause an illness named insulinoma.
You should never give cheese to ferrets. Ferrets cannot digest any dairy as they are lactose intolerant.
Your ferret can not eat ice cream. Ice cream is dairy and ferrets are lactose intolerant.
Change It Up!
Ferrets can be picky eaters, so, it is vital to feed them various foods from a young age.
Some foods like chicken livers are very rich and should only be given occasionally.
If you’ve had your ferret for a while and want to improve its diet, try to incorporate the new nutritional food slowly. Mix a small bit of the new food to the old food. This will help with their digestion as well.
Treat Your Ferret
Ferrets love treats, and they can aid in training purposes as well. You need to make sure that you provide your ferret with healthy treats.
Treats You Can Give Your Ferret
There are lots of healthy treats you can spoil your furry friend with. Treats should always be given in moderation as you do not want your ferret to have health complications due to being overweight. Treats you can give your ferret are:
Treats like cooked eggs, cat treats, and small pieces of chicken, lamb, or turkey are highly nutritious but should always be given in moderation to avoid any digestive issues. Ask your local butcher for cast-off pieces of fresh meat, like organs.
Tuna is not the healthiest snack for your ferret, but it can be given once in a blue moon. It does not have the correct nutrients for ferrets, and most canned tuna have excessive amounts of seasoning and salt in them.
Meat-Based Baby Food
Meat-based baby food is also a great treat. It contains a lot of nutritional ingredients and your ferret will love it!
Olive & Coconut Oil
Olive or Coconut oil is given to ferrets to help with hairballs and acts as a natural laxative. This should be given in moderation, and there is a possibility that it can cause an allergic reaction.
Keep an eye on your ferret after the first time you give them these oils in case they have an allergic reaction.
You will also find treats specifically made for ferrets, but you should always make sure that they are low in grain and corn. A higher protein quantity is always best.
How Often Should I Feed My Ferret?
Daily feedings will depend on what you are feeding your ferret. Also, every ferret is unique and has specific needs.
If you have chosen a pellet-based diet for your ferret, it is always advised to have the food readily available to them.
If you have opted for the raw meat diet, you have to give them small portions throughout the day.
They will spend a lot of their day eating and digesting their food, so keeping raw meat out all day will result in spoiled meat that is harmful to your ferret.
The general rule is that ferrets should eat 5-7% of their body weight daily. For example, if your ferret weighs 2lbs, they should have roughly 50-75 grams of food a day.
Larger quantities will be required during growth, gestation, and reproduction.
If you notice that your ferret is gaining weight, you should adjust your food portions accordingly, as being overweight could lead to other health problems.
Food for Baby Ferrets (Kits)
Baby ferrets under 12 weeks should be given goats’ milk or other low lactose milk options. Lamb milk is also a great option. They can also be given small chunks of fresh raw meat.
Kits should be fed four meals a day for the first 2 weeks; after that, you can minimize it to 3 times a day until 10 weeks of age.
When they reach 12 weeks of age, you can feed them twice a day, and you should only give them milk twice a week.
What Should My Ferret Drink?
Whether you are feeding a raw food diet or pellets, the only drink you should be giving them is water.
Tap water should suffice as long as it’s clean and fresh.
If you find that your ferret is not drinking water, try filtering it first. There could be a strong chlorine smell that is deterring them.
To maintain a healthy, long life for your ferret, it is vital to feed them a healthy and nutritious diet. Raw diets have proven to be the closest option to their natural diet and provide the best nutrition.
Although dry pellets help with teeth maintenance, they are usually packed with grains and corn, which is not an ideal diet for your ferret. However, there have been significant changes made to dry food, and you can find some great products that are higher in protein, like Kaytee Premium Ferret Food.
Always ensure that you are not overfeeding your ferrets. A lot of people want to spoil their pets and land up feeding them way too much. Love them by looking after them properly and providing them with the best diet possible.