What to feed baby ferrets
What do ferrets eat? The best food for your ferret and the worst
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Jump to: What do ferrets eat? | Ferret diet | What do ferrets eat in the wild? | What do you feed a baby ferret? | How often should I feed my adult ferret? | Tap water | Can a ferret eat dog food? | Can you feed a ferret eggs? | Can a ferret eat cat food? | Can a ferret eat fish? | Do ferrets eat nuts? | Do ferrets eat rabbits?
What do ferrets eat?
Ferrets are obligate carnivores, which means they must eat meat.
Raw meat is the best option, including whole prey. Ferrets can also eat kitten food, as it has a high meat protein content, baby food that's high in meat protein, and dried ferret food, that's high in meat protein.
As an occasional treat, your ferret can also eat eggs.
A ferret's diet should consist of 32 – 38% protein and 15 – 20% fat.
Ferrets can eat the following raw meat:
- Chicken wings and stripped carcasses
- Turkey necks
- Game birds
- Minced beef
- Lambs heart
- Raw animal bones for calcium and for cleaning your ferrets teeth
Source: The British Ferret Club, Feeding Adult Ferrets
Ferrets can also eat whole prey including:
Source: Susan Brown, DVM, Rethinking the Ferret Diet.
Although you may not like the idea of feeding raw food to your ferret, it replicates her natural diet, meeting her nutritional needs.
Make sure you buy good quality meat, and buy any rodents from reputable retailers. Don’t be tempted to try and catch any rodents yourself, as they could contain parasites.
You should therefore be aware that your ferret might also try to hide some food for later on. This could be dangerous, as raw meat could go off, and cause food poisoning.
Your ferret is part of your family but make sure she eats the right food for her.
Ferrets have a short intestinal tract and absorb nutrients inefficiently, which is one of the reasons their diet needs to be high in meat based protein and fat. Their bodies digest these easily, and they provide lots of energy.
You should minimise the amount of fruit or vegetables that you give your ferret. These contain complex carbohydrates which are high in fibre. Ferrets can't digest fibre, meaning they have a low nutritional value.
A diet high in carbohydrates can also lead to disease in ferrets, as can vegetable protein that's also found in fruit and vegetables. Find out more about foods that ferrets can't eat and why.
Due to their short intestinal tract and high metabolic rate, ferrets must also eat little and often.
You may like to read this: Looking after and caring for a ferret
What do ferrets eat in the wild?
In the wild a ferret would eat every part of the animal including its bones, and this action would not only benefit her health, but offer stimulation and exercise her jaw.
Kristen's ferret was very poorly in 2016. Her ferret was unable to walk and lost a third of his body weight in three weeks. She was covered by ferret insurance - read her review.
What dried ferret food can you buy?
You can buy Burgess ferret food; Chudleys; Optima and James Wellbeloved ferret food.
When buying dried ferret food ensure it contains more meat protein than any other product. If it's high in carbohydrate and fibre then you should avoid it.
Did you know that our Ferret insurance can cover £2,000 of vet fees. Cover can be per pet (up to three pets on a policy) or per policy.
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Food that ferrets can’t eat
Ferrets shouldn't eat fruit or vegetables as a main part of their diet.
Ferrets shouldn’t be fed food containing complex carbohydrates as a main part of their diet as these contain fibre. Ferrets can't digest fibre, which means the foods have a low nutritional value.
The reason they can’t digest these is because they have no cecum – this forms part of the digestive tract in many animals, and can produce bacteria that digests complex carbohydrates.
In addition a diet high in carbohydrate can lead to an excess of glucose in your ferret's blood. This could cause insulinoma - cancer of the beta cells in the Pancreas according to Susan Brown, DVM.
Vegetables can also contain vegetable protein, which your ferret can't digest very well. If she eats too much then it can lead to disease, such as bladder stones, ulcerations of the skin, gastroenteritis, reduced reproduction ability and her kits could suffer with poor growth.
Try and avoid the foods listed below, as they're high in complex carbohydrates and fibre:
Fruit and vegetables you shouldn't feed your ferret
- Lima Beans
- Pigeon beans
- Pink beans
- Pinto beans
- Small white beans
- Winged beans
- Brussel sprouts
- Green Beans
- Kiwi fruit
- Split peas
- Dried plums
- Sweet potato
- Peanut butter
Source: Fruit and Veggies - More Matters & The American Ferret Association
Your ferrets diet should be primarily meat and fat as in the wild. She will gain her energy from those foods, and not carbohydrates.
Your baby ferret's eating habits are shaped while they're young.
What do baby ferrets eat?
You can feed your baby ferret a combination of fresh meat, goats or low lactose milk and water.
You can feed your baby ferret around four times a day using the following plan:
- Breakfast: Water and fresh meat chucks
- Lunch: Fresh meat
- Dinnertime: Fresh meat
- Suppertime: Meat on the bone followed by goats milk or a low lactose milk
(Thanks to The British Ferret Club for their Kit dietary advice)
Ferrets tend to bond with their food as Kits, and once they’re older it’s harder to change their eating habits.
You should encourage them to try lots of different foods when they’re young, to avoid problems later on in life.
It’s also a good idea to give them soft foods occasionally, such as baby food (high in meat protein), or dried food soaked in water occasionally.
This is so they don’t reject softer foods when they’re ill, and unable to normally.
How often should I feed my adult ferret?Opinions vary on how often, so be guided by your pet – just remember not to overwhelm her with food, as she won’t be able to eat it all.
She may then resort to hoarding it for later. If it’s a meat product this could have obvious consequences in that it could go off before she eats it.
If you work during the day, then try leaving some ferret kibble out for her to eat when she’s hungry. Alternate ferret kibble and fresh meat when you’re at home.
With all this food, you also need to make sure that your ferret gets plenty of exercise in order to prevent her from getting fat.
Can I give my ferret tap water?
Yes, tap water is fine for your ferret.
If your ferret turns her nose up at, it may be because she can smell the chlorine. Try filtering it to see if that helps.
It’s really important to provide your ferret with lots of fresh water daily to avoid dehydration. Ferrets can get thirsty, particularly if they’re eating a dried ferret food, or if it’s the summer.
Can a ferret eat dog food?
No, it’s not advised to feed your ferret dog food. This is because it’s not high enough in protein and fat for your ferret.
Dog food also contains vegetable protein and fibre which cannot be digested by ferrets, and can cause disease.
Can you feed a ferret eggs?
Yes, you can feed your ferret cooked or raw eggs as a treat.
Limit them to once or twice a week, as more than this could cause constipation.
Can a ferret eat cat or kitten food?
Yes, your ferret can eat kitten food, as it has a high meat protein content. Cat food doesn’t contain the same protein levels, so isn’t as beneficial for your ferret.
Can ferrets eat fish?
Ferrets can eat fish, however it’s not naturally part of their diet. Some pre-prepared ferret foods do contain fish, which may not be to every ferrets’ taste.
It’s probably better to pick a pre-prepared food that contains meat rather than fish.
What treats can you give ferrets?
You can give your ferret meat or eggs (one to two a week).
You can also feed baby food with a high meat content. Any treats should be high in meat protein. Sweet, complex carbohydrate or dairy products can be harmful.
Treats should also be in small quantities to avoid filling her up too much, due to her small intestinal tract.
If you want to give your ferret specifically designed ferret treats, make sure that they don’t contain complex carbohydrates. Some products sadly do, which can be harmful for ferrets.
Do ferrets eat nuts?
No, ferrets shouldn’t eat nuts, they contain complex carbohydrates which can cause illness in ferrets.
We can cover ferrets for up to £2,000 in vet fees. Cover can be per pet or per policy. Why not find out more?
Do ferrets eat rabbits?
Yes, it's likely that if provide your ferret with rabbit, she'll eat it.
If you own a pet rabbit, keep them away from each other.
Ferrets are naturally hunters of prey, and will chase down wild (and domesticated) animals that her ancestors would normally eat in the wild.
Urinary tract stones in ferrets
Calcium oxolate is the compound in stones that can form in a ferrets urinary tract. They’re very painful for ferrets, and are caused by eating plant based proteins, dog food and poor quality cat food.
The stones are most common in ferrets aged three to seven years.
We really hope that you've found this article helpful. Ferrets are such cute pets, and it can be so tempting to give them foods that they seem to enjoy. However, their little bodies might not.
Like with dogs and chocolate - don't be tempted to give in because your ferret looks cutely at you. Because you want to keep her fit and healthy.
And with the right kind of food, and the love, care and attention you'll give her, hopefully your ferret will live a long and happy life.Do you need insurance for your ferret? Get a quote for up to £2,000 of vet fee cover | Insure up to 3 pets per policy | We’ve been insuring exotic pets since 1996 | Check out our customer reviews on Feefo.
This article is intended for guidance only. Although we've done our best to ensure the facts are correct, we naturally cannot guarantee this, as we're not vets or nutritional experts. If you're unsure about what to feed your ferret, you should consult your vet.
What Do Ferrets Eat? A Guide to Feeding Your Ferret
Ferret Nutrition 101
If you have just gotten a ferret, or are thinking of getting a ferret, it’s a really good idea to do a little research into the best nutritional diet for your new little pal. PetMD is here to help you on your way.
When and What Do Ferrets Eat?
To begin, ferrets have a high metabolic rate, so they will eat around 8 to 10 small meals daily. And being strict carnivores, like cats, they need a high protein food source. Food pellets are an excellent source of protein for ferrets, which can be found at your veterinarian's office or the local pet store.
You will need to read the ingredient list on the packet to make sure that the pellets are made of the most nutritious ingredients. As lists go, the ingredients are listed in order from highest to lowest quantity. As such, chicken or lamb should always be the first ingredient listed for a good ferret food. Additionally, avoid foods that include grain or corn.
Can Ferrets Eat Cat Food?
If you are not able to find a prepackaged ferret food in your area, don’t panic. Kitten food works as well (again, check the ingredients list), as long as you give your ferret fatty acid supplements, which are available from a pet store. Kitten food has a higher protein content than adult cat food and is therefore more suitable.
What Other Foods Can I Give My Ferret?
Homemade food is another way to feed your ferret. You can feed your ferret cooked or raw chicken along with the pellets. Chicken baby food is acceptable as a supplement to the pellet diet, too. Remember that the dry food is an important staple, as it helps to keep their teeth clean.
What Foods Can't My Ferret Eat?
Avoid foods that are high in complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, or anything containing sugar. Because ferets are strict carnivores, their digestive tracts cannot process these types of food
Varietyis the Key
Like cats, ferrets can be fussy creatures, preferring only one type of food, so it's a good idea to vary it up (just in case a brand either changes its ingredient makeup or goes out of business). If you do have a fussy ferret, you might try slowly mixing small amounts of the new food in with the old, until you transition over completely to the new food. This may take about two weeks.
If you choose to feed your ferret pellets, choose the shape of the pellets carefully. Triangles or anything with sharp corners can jab the roof of your ferret’s mouth, so smooth, small chunks and oval shapes are the best.
Watch Out For the Hairballs
Ferrets also get hairballs from self-grooming, but they don’t regurgitate them like cats do. To combat the problem, manufacturers have designed treats to prevent hairballs from developing. Supplement these treats into your ferret's diet and weekly routine.
If your ferret does have hairballs that have become lodged, you may need to take it in to a veterinarian to have it surgically removed. The ability to prevent any hairball-related complications far outweigh the costs of this cure.
Smart (and Healthy) Treats
Speaking of treats, ferrets love them! Good treats for ferrets include cooked egg, cat treats, and bits of chicken, turkey, or lamb. Meanwhile, you should avoid giving your ferret any grains, vegetables, ice cream, or chocolate. It's best to stick with treats that are specifically made for ferrets or, second best, treats that are made for cats—but never dog treats.
Here's a tip: Ask your neighborhood butcher for cast-off pieces of fresh meat, like the organs and other bits that people don't like but that ferrets do. To avoid any potential for illness caused by raw meat, cook the meats before you feed them to your ferret. One way to make treat time easy is to cook up a batch of meat and cut it into small chunks that can be frozen for convenience—a minute or so in the microwave on thaw setting and happy times are here!
This is just the beginning of getting to know your furry new friend. Now that you know what to feed your ferret, when to feed it, and what not to feed it, you can start having some fun bonding.
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What to feed a ferret - how a ferret eats at home, what they can eat and how to make a diet
What do ferrets eat is the first question that future owners ask veterinarians and pet store employees. Today we will tell you what the nutrition of a ferret should be, we will offer the optimal feeding scheme at home.
What do ferrets eat?
Ferrets are predators by nature. In their natural environment, they independently obtain food: they hunt rodents, small birds, frogs, lizards, and insects. Animals love to eat fish, but this product is not the main one.
The animal receives the microelements and substances necessary for life from animal food. There are practically no plants in his usual menu. This fact must be taken into account when planning a diet.
How to feed a ferret at home?
You can use natural food or buy ready-made foods that are sold in pet stores and veterinary clinics. The latter option is preferable, since ready-made mixtures contain the necessary set of minerals and trace elements.
Regardless of which food option you choose, the animal should receive per day:
- protein of animal origin - at least 30% of the total portion;
- fats - about 20%;
- complex carbohydrates - 10-15%;
- fiber - up to 3-5%.
Cute predators independently obtain food only in the wild. This is not possible in an apartment setting. Therefore, the main task of the owner is to provide his pet with all the conditions for a comfortable and healthy life.
What can be given to ferrets?
There is a list of allowed and prohibited products.
Let's start with those that can be given to small predators:
- meat - chicken, turkey, beef (lean), pork, rabbit meat, boiled lamb;
- seafood - sea fish, squid, peeled shrimp;
- multi-grain cereals;
- boiled eggs.
What should not be fed to a ferret?
In order not to harm your pet, protect it from vegetables and fruits. The digestive system of ferrets is not designed to digest large amounts of plant foods.
What else you need to give up:
- any nuts;
- desserts containing sugar;
- products containing salt, spicy spices;
- roasted, smoked meats;
- onion, garlic.
Do not feed your pet from the table and do not try to give your ferret dry or canned dog or cat food.
What do ferrets eat: treats
If you want to pamper the animal, remember that the treat should be not only tasty, but also healthy. You can give cottage cheese with a minimum fat content, dates, bananas, pieces of hard cheese.
The listed products cannot be used as the main diet. Veterinarians recommend giving them no more than 2 times a week.
Natural food based ferret diet
If you decide to cook for your pet yourself, do not add salt and spices to his food.
The daily diet should consist of the following parts:
- two-thirds meat and offal;
- one third - cereals: buckwheat, oatmeal, millet.
Males should eat at least 300 grams per day, females - about 150-200 grams, cubs - 100 grams.
Live food for ferrets
Not every owner will go to ensure that the diet of the animal is fully consistent with its nutrition in the natural environment.
If you have such a desire, you can give small rodents, worms, insects to be eaten by a predator.
How do I feed my ferret dry food?
The most convenient and profitable feeding of a ferret at home is ready-made dry food. Their compositions are designed taking into account the daily needs of the animal's body. Manufacturers have provided the correct proportions of ingredients, calculated the energy value.
You can buy ready-made balanced diets for ferrets in our online store:
650 gr 2 pcs 2 pcs
650 g x 4 pcs
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7.5 kg x 2 pcs
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Feeds fall into three categories:
- budget line;
- premium products;
- "super premium" segment.
Veterinarians do not recommend buying food of dubious quality. Price is a factor to consider. High-quality nutrition contains the necessary minerals, a complex of vitamins, is well absorbed, improves immunity. If after changing the food you notice that the animal has begun to have problems with the gastrointestinal tract, consult your veterinarian.
Feeding a ferret at home
In the article "Ferret in the apartment" we learned what conditions you need to create for your pet in the house. In this article, we will touch on a very important aspect of care and maintenance - the feeding of ferrets.
Do not rush to conclusions regarding the feeding of this beautiful animal. Remember that feeding ferrets is a key factor in their health and quality of life. It is deficiencies in the diet that often become the causes of various diseases that significantly reduce the life expectancy of animals.
Despite the fact that the ferret has been domesticated and is essentially a pet, it is not a cat or a dog. Many ferret owners try to feed their pets cat or dog food. This cannot be done! Look at least at the body structure of a ferret, does it look like a dog or a cat, and its behavior, because in what activity it is, any dog or cat will envy such briskness and energy. But this temperament and high mobility of the ferret directly affect its metabolism and metabolism, the features of the flow of bio-chemical processes in its body. A ferret is a different animal, with its own characteristics and needs, so it also needs a different food, taking into account precisely its nutritional needs.
Look at the teeth of a ferret - these are the teeth of a predator, designed to tear off pieces of meat and crush bones. In nature, ferrets prey on rodents and birds, and may also eat some insects.
Ferret feeding can be organized in three different ways.
The first way , as close as possible to natural conditions. In this case, the ferret should be given whole carcasses of mice, chickens, cockroaches or mealworms. For a number of reasons, this type of feeding is not suitable for all owners, and not everyone is ready to clean up uneaten food leftovers and tidy up the ferret's meal.
The second way, , is to feed your ferret your own food at home. A balanced diet for a domestic ferret should include various types of meat (turkey, beef, chicken, duck), offal (beef or chicken heart, liver, kidneys, stomachs), animal and vegetable fat, fish (trout, mackerel, horse mackerel, cod or flounder), cartilage, vitamin and mineral supplements and a very small amount of vegetables and cereals. Porridges can be different, this is rice, and buckwheat, and millet with oatmeal, and cottage cheese and eggs are also acceptable in the diet. In addition to cottage cheese, other dairy products, especially milk, should not be given. lactose is poorly digested and causes vomiting and diarrhea in ferrets.
Do not give fatty, smoked or fried foods, sweets, nuts, chocolate, flour, bakery and confectionery products. The ferret is not adapted to the digestion of such food, it provokes obesity, diabetes, allergic reactions, indigestion and intestinal disorders and other health problems.
Do not give fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of coarse fiber, for example, carrots are too difficult to digest, can cause intestinal obstruction or an asthma attack in a ferret. The same effect and from nuts, a ferret can choke on them, or get intestinal obstruction.
Do not give ferrets products that have a sticky, sweet and viscous consistency.
Remember that ferrets need highly digestible proteins, which are found in chicken, turkey, duck, quail, sea fish, eggs, as well as beef and lamb. Plant-based protein, such as soy, is much more difficult for ferrets to digest.
Finally, the third way to feed a ferret is to use ready-made ferret food. As ferrets become more and more popular, commercial pet food manufacturers have included food designed specifically for ferrets in their line of foods. The use of ready-made foods ensures that your pet receives all the necessary nutrients in the optimal amount. This feeding option is especially suitable for beginners who have recently acquired a ferret, and are not yet ready to independently compose a fully balanced diet from individual products.
The most important thing for is to choose super premium class food from conscientious producers with a good reputation and long production practice. Economy class feeds contain chemicals, preservatives, dyes and poor quality meat, often in the form of food residues. Do not save on the health of your pet, if you have acquired an animal, now bear responsibility for it and feed it well.
The German company Bosch produces ready-made professional superpremium pet food. The food line also includes Totally Ferret food for domestic ferrets. These feeds take into account the peculiarities of the digestive system of ferrets.
Totally Ferret food for ferrets takes into account the needs of ferrets in proteins, fats and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and trace elements. The right balance of nutrients in a ferret's diet is essential to its well-being and good health. In the "Food Selection" section, you will receive a recommended food option specifically for your ferret.
Bosch food is available throughout Russia, on our "Map", you will find the closest pet store to you, where you can buy the food you need.
Eating dry food is also good for maintaining healthy teeth, hard food pellets can clean off plaque and tartar, thereby improving the condition of the ferret's tooth enamel and extending the life of the teeth.
How often should I feed my ferret?
How many times per day to feed ferrets is another question that needs to be answered correctly.
Watch the ferret, how actively he moves, imagine how much energy he spends while doing this, it is not surprising that he often chews something. Of course, he is not a glutton, just the metabolism in his body passes so quickly that he needs to constantly replenish his energy costs.
Therefore, you should not feed them the same way as cats or dogs only 2-3 times a day. The ferret needs to be provided with constant free access to food throughout the day. He should be able to eat as much as he needs. It has been observed that a ferret may need 7-10 meals per day, but in small portions. The main thing is to constantly wash the water and food bowls and replenish them. Water must be constantly changed to fresh, it must be at room temperature. Water is necessary for the ferret not only to combat dehydration, but also for thermoregulation.