Congratulations on adopting your new ferret! A ferret is a wonderful pet to own that will bring plenty of joy to your life.
However, they are creatures that possess a very particular diet, so it’s important to research into the nutritional diet of your tiny new friend.
Ferret food should primarily consist of meat, meat, and more meat! Absolutely no vegetables should be served to your ferret. The carbohydrates and proteins found in most fruit and vegetables can make your ferret unwell.
Your ferret is part of the family and you need to make sure he or she is provided with the correct diet for their needs. So, read on to learn all about the diet of a ferret.
When and What Do Ferrets Eat?
The first questions to ask are – “what do ferrets eat?” and “how often do they eat?”
Ferrets possess a high metabolic rate, so they can consume around eight to ten small meals a day.
They’re strict carnivores, so require foods high in protein. On average, a ferret’s diet should consist of 32 – 38% protein and 15 – 20% fat.
Raw meat is the best option for ferrets, including whole prey. The following raw meats are best fed to ferrets: chicken wings and stripped carcasses, turkey necks, rabbit, game, birds, pigeons, minced beef, lamb, and raw animal bones.
Ferrets can also easily consume smaller whole prey such as mice, rats, and chicks.
Although the idea of feeding your ferret raw food may not be pleasant, it’s the best option as it replicates his or her natural diet and best matches their nutritional needs.
Be sure to purchase high-quality meat and buy whole prey like rodents from reputable retailers. It may be tempting to attempt to catch rodents yourself, but this can be potentially dangerous as they may contain parasites.
For those that want to avoid serving their ferret raw meat, you can opt for food pellets designed to feed ferrets. These are an excellent source of protein for your pets and can be purchased from your local pet store or veterinarian’s office.
Take a look at the ingredients listed on the packet to be sure that the pellets are packed full of nutritious ingredients for your furry friend. Chicken or lamb should usually be the first ingredient listed in a pack of decent ferret food and avoid brands that include grain or corn.
What Else Can My Ferret Eat?
If you don’t want to serve your ferret raw meat but can’t get hold of pre-packaged ferret food, there’s another option.
Kitten food works well in a ferret’s diet, as long as it’s a high protein, meaty option. You’ll also need to provide your ferret with fatty acid supplements, which should be available from your local pet store.
It’s important to opt for kitten food rather than adult cat food, though. This is because it contains higher protein content, so is more suitable for your ferret.
You can also make your own food to feed your ferret – cooked chicken always goes down a treat!
Baby food that’s high in protein can also work. A jar containing a lot of chicken is the best option in this case.
What Do Baby Ferrets Eat?
If you’ve adopted a baby ferret, then their dietary requirements will be different from an adult.
Baby ferrets should be provided with a combination of fresh meat, goats or low lactose milk, and water. Your baby ferret should be fed around four times a day, with a mix of these meals.
It’s recommended to encourage your baby ferret to sample lots of different types of foods when they’re young, as once they get older it’s more difficult to alter their eating habits.
Offer your young ferret soft foods on occasion, such as baby food which is high in meat protein. This should hopefully mean that they won’t reject softer foods when they’re older on occasions they may be ill and unable to eat as usual.
What Foods Can’t My Ferret Eat?
As mentioned, ferrets are strict carnivores so they shouldn’t be given any foods that are high in complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, or anything sugary.
This is because their digestive tracts aren’t designed to process these types of food. If a ferret consumes too much vegetable protein, for example, this can lead to nasty diseases such as bladder stones, ulcerations of the skin, gastroenteritis, and reduced reproduction ability. Likewise, her kits could suffer from poor growth.
While it may be tempting to include dog food into a ferret diet, it’s not high enough in protein and fat for your ferret. Dog food also includes vegetable protein and fiber which as we know, cannot be digested by ferrets.
Ferret Food for Your Furry Friend
Now you’re aware of the correct ferret food to serve your furry friend, the fun can begin!
Ferrets are adorable and fun pets and it can be so tempting to offer them foods that they seem to enjoy. However, don’t be tempted to give them any foods that may potentially harm them, no matter how cute their expressions are.
Or maybe owning a ferret isn’t for you, after all? If instead you might be considering adopting a rodent as a pet, learn all about how to look after them here.