Because they are carnivores, ferrets must be fed high amounts of protein and fat, while they need very little fibers, carbs or sugar. They also need a good place to live, so if you’re looking for some cages, we wrote an article on habitats for ferrets as well.
It’s always important to know that animals in captivity need a diet that is similar to what they would eat in the wild. In the case of ferrets, that diet mostly consists of nutrients they can get out of freshly killed animals.
Of course, out in the wild meat is the main source of food for ferrets, so it’s good to have them eat raw meat. Because they eat whole animals in the wild, ferrets don’t care that much what parts of the animals they eat but you have to keep in mind that they don’t digest fibrous foods well due to their short digestive tract.
That’s why they need a diet that’s high in protein and fat, and they need to exercise a lot. This keeps them healthy and happy. Raw meat is great for them but only as part of a well-thought diet. Mince is high in fat so it will make your ferret become obese if it eats too much of it. But the good part is that it’s full of proteins, giving your pet a lot of energy.
If you can put some pieces of bone in your pet’s mince that’s great. This will help the ferret clean its teeth and will provide much-needed calcium. Don’t feed the pet meat that you wouldn’t consume because it’s too old. They need fresh food and although ferrets are pretty resilient to food poisoning, they won’t like rotten food and they might become sick after eating it.
Ferrets are not huge eaters – they only consume what they need and when they need it. If your ferret hasn’t eaten its food within an hour, you can remove it from its bowl. Feeding your ferret often with small amounts of food is the best way to do it. Your pet can have 4 meals a day, but youngsters that eat less for each meal can have up to 6 meals a day.
It’s good to change the food from a day to another, especially for older ferrets that become fussy over their food. This is also a good way to prevent your pets from becoming overly reliant on any particular type of food. Keep meals interesting for your ferret.
If you can’t put pieces of bone in the pet’s food, make sure the mix has some chicken feet, necks or wings; something that has more bone in it. Offering them whole animals that have died recently is something that ferrets appreciate too. The ferrets like playing with their food and they will enjoy food that’s a bit more difficult to tear apart.
A balanced diet is extremely important if you want to keep your ferrets satisfied, but even more so if you want them to live a happy and healthy life. If your ferret eats enough meat it will have no issues with loss of fur, loss of weight or bad odor. After consulting a veterinarian, you can decide if your ferret also needs some supplements or additional vitamins.
Being a carnivorous animal, the ferret has a digestive system that is well-suited for processing proteins and fats. Eggs are full of protein and that’s why they are great for your little pet. One single egg can contain 77 calories and a bit more than a teaspoon of proteins.
You don’t want to feed too many of them to your ferret though, as 1 or 2 every week is enough to keep them satisfied. Eggs can cause constipation to ferrets. The part of the egg that is good for the ferrets is the yolk. So if you want to feed eggs to your ferret, remove the whites. The yolk contains many vitamins and nutrients and is great for the little animal.
Unlike other types of food, ferrets like the eggs cooked. Raw eggs can be messy to eat and some ferrets reject them entirely. To avoid that, take the yolk and cook it either by boiling the egg before or by frying it. You can include raw eggs in some of the other types of food that your pet eats.
If you boil the egg, the ferret will play with it before breaking it and eating the tasty yolk, so this is also a fine alternative.
Giving milk or milk products to your ferret is something to avoid. That is because ferrets are intolerant to lactose. If your ferret eats cow milk it can have problems with diarrhea and risk dehydration. A ferret will only drink milk when it’s young, from its mother and as it grows older it becomes more and more intolerant to milk.
Breaking down the complex sugars found in milk requires an enzyme that adult ferrets don’t have. However, if you feed your ferret just a bit of milk from time to time, as a treat, there shouldn’t be any problems. Avoid soy milk at all costs, as it interferes with the absorption of calcium from other foods. It’s extremely important not to give your ferret any regular dairy products.
Ferrets enjoy playing with their food and sometimes eating stuff that they aren’t supposed to eat. That is why it’s not a problem if you give them milk from time to time. If you put it in a bowl, they will also play with it like they do with water.
Out in the wild, ferrets eat a lot of things, including bones. So giving your ferret a bone from time to time is a good thing to do, but it needs to be raw and not cooked. If you cook the bones they may dry out or splinter and those little fragments can cause your ferrets to choke. It’s important to ensure your pet has a nutritious diet, and bones are part of that diet too.
As an animal of prey, wild ferrets will eat entire animals, and that includes meat, organs, and bones. Everything needs to be raw, as it would be in the wild. The ferret’s digestive system isn’t used to cooked foods. It might seem strange, but their stomachs are able to process raw food faster and they’re also better at managing the bacteria found in raw flesh or bones.
Your ferret has a lot to gain from bones, including calcium, which is an important part of the animal’s diet. There is another thing that makes bones extremely important in a ferret’s diet and the reason for that is bones help ferrets keep their teeth clean. Constantly gnawing on them will remove the plaque build up on the teeth.
But ferrets don’t always want bones and will eat them only when they need to. So don’t constantly feed them bones. Also, fresh bones are good, old ones are a no-no. Bones that have been lying around for a while have almost no nutritious value and they can be infested with germs.
If you want to keep your pet’s teeth clean you can also feed it entire small animals such as mice, rats or birds. The ferret will clean its teeth ripping the animal apart, especially if the dead animal has feathers or fur still on it. So it’s best if you give them whole pieces, not just raw meat or raw bones. Have your pet work a bit to get to all the parts of its food.
To ensure a diet as close to the one the ferret would have in the wild, it’s important to include small bones in the menu, meat, and organs too, and everything should be raw. Ferrets also like it when the food is in large pieces and they have to work a bit on it. That keeps their natural instincts satisfied.
What do ferrets eat, you ask? Fish meat is rich in many nutrients that many ferret food mixes that you can find for sale do not contain. Even though you can feed your pet fish, it is important that you understand that fish is not in the natural diet of a ferret. This is why it is recommended that you feed it fish in moderation.
One issue with fish meat is the fact that your ferret might not like it due to its smell. Numerous pets of this kind often feel repulsed by the smell of it and, thus, they refuse to eat it. This is to be expected, especially if your pet is a picky eater.
Olive and coconut oil
You can give olive and coconut oil to your ferret, but, in moderation. Coconut oil can help with hairballs and it is a great natural laxative.
Because coconut and olive oil are not usually part of what we can describe as a natural ferret diet, it is best that, after the first time that you provide your pet with oil, you keep a close eye on it. This way, you can notice whether or not the pet has an allergic reaction to it, as this can, in rare cases, happen.
Olive oil is also utilized as a remedy for digestive issues. It should be fed in small quantities, less than a half a spoon daily. Once again, when you feed it for the first time, take the time to observe your pet so that you see if it is allergic to it.
If you have struggled to find foods that humans consume and that are also part of regular ferret diets, pumpkin might be the solution that you’ve been looking for. Differently from other vegetables, pumpkin is the one food that ferrets can eat and, even more importantly, love.
Because of its consistency, pumpkin is a great ferret food as it can help with hairballs. The specialists recommend that you give your ferret pumpkin a couple of times a week, in small amounts. According to some studies, too much pumpkin can cause these animals to develop adrenal disease.
Pork is not necessarily one of the most common ferret foods. Still, this type of meat can be safely fed to ferrets, provided that you are sure that you know its correct origin.
As you probably already know, pork can be infected with Trichinella, a type of parasitic worms that cause trichinellosis. Some of the most common signs of trichinosis include weakness, muscle pain, swelling of the face and eyes, skin rashes and headaches just to name a few.
Still, if you are confident that the pork meat that you have acquired is of good quality, you can feed it to your beloved companions.
What human foods to avoid
What do ferrets eat is a question that many pet owners often ask themselves. Because they are carnivores, it is important that you refrain from supplying your pet ferret with anything else than foods that are included in the natural diet of the animal.
This is why you have to understand that there are many foods that you should not feed your pet. For instance, it is not recommended that you give vegetables and fruits to your companion. Because they cannot process fibers, feeding your pet fruits or vegetables can be harmful. In the case of ferrets, poor nutrition can even lead to serious diseases such as cancer.
Bacon is another food that does not have a place in the natural diet of a ferret. Even though bacon is basically meat, it is not safe because it is processed and, thus, it contains sugar and salt.
Bread is also not a ferret food. Just like in the case of fruits and vegetables, ferrets cannot digest fiber and grains. As expected, this means that you cannot give your ferret cookies, cereals, or cake. If you do provide these foods to your pet, there is a high chance that it will get sick.
Some pet owners avoid feeding their pets foods that are high in carbohydrates due to the fact that some existing studies suggest that these foods can cause insulinoma in ferrets. An insulinoma is a tumor of the pancreas that affects those cells that are responsible for producing insulin. Because these tumors create too much insulin, ferrets end up dying due to hypoglycemia.
Chocolate, or in fact, any types of sweets are a big no-no when it comes to ferrets. Even more so, chocolate can be poisonous for these pets as their gentle bodies simply do not know how to process candy. To put this info into perspective, if you feed your pet even a small piece of candy, there is a chance that it will make it feel very sick. So, chocolate is not, by no means, good ferret food.
How often should you feed your ferret
Now that you know the answer to the question what do ferrets eat, it is important that you feed your pet twice to four times a day. While you can leave the dry food in the cage of the pet for a longer time, all the raw meat that you supply as ferret food for your furry companion should be removed if it does not get consumed within an hour.
However, the feeding schedule that you set up should also take into consideration the age of your pet. For instance, if your ferret is young and active, you should feed it 5 to 6 times a day. If you own a ferret that is older and that has some pancreatic problems, it is recommended that you allow it to have continual access to quality ferret food.
If you are a novice ferret owner and you do not know much about the eating behavior of these lovely companions, you should keep in mind that these pets have an innate habit of stashing food. So, if you notice that the cage of your pet gives away a bad smell, it might be time to do some cleaning and remove the hidden leftovers.