Long gone are the days of feeding ferrets premium cat food like back in the 80s. As time has progressed, ferret research has revealed that our fury friends have a high metabolic rate and function best on eight to 10 small meals per day. Ferrets are strict carnivores who need a high energy, high protein and low fibre diet.
Many opt to feed their ferrets protein rich pellets which can be found at most vets and pet shops. This is the most common way people ensure their ferrets are gaining the sustenance they need. However, take your time when picking a pellet food. You can read the nutritional information on the back of each bag and can check the ingredients. More often than not, the ingredients are listed in order of quantity, with the highest being at the top. Therefore, make sure the top ingredient is meat, usually lamb or chicken. Also avoid pellets which include corn or grain.
Is Cat Food Healthy for Ferrets?
Adult cat food is of no nutritional benefit to ferrets and should not be given to them. However, if you have run out of food pellets or cannot find one that is suitable at the moment, kitten food is a suitable alternative. Kitten food has a higher protein content than adult cat food which is exactly what your ferret needs. Just ensure you give your ferret a fatty acid supplement if they are eating kitten food.
What Should I Feed My Ferret From?
Whatever you are feeding your ferret, remember that they love to dig. Often, they can flick their food out of the bowl which can turn into waste if they do not notice. The best option is to use a deep heavy bowl or a plastic bowl clipped on the side of their cage at an awkward height for digging. Remember, you will never need to fill your ferret’s bowl to the top as they require little and often. Those with many ferrets should use several feeding bowls dotted about instead of one single large dish.
Water and Dry Diet Ferrets
All ferrets need access to clean and fresh water, but those who eat a dry pellet diet will require more. The volume of water required roughly by a ferret is three times the volume of pellets they eat. However, in warmer weather they will obviously require more. It is very dangerous for ferrets to lack water and they will stop eating after 24 hours, which can be fatal.
You will see many ferret owners with a water bottle clipped to the cage, like those used for rabbits and guinea pigs. However, ferrets actually much prefer to drink out of dishes. Younger ferrets and kits will often play in dishes of water at floor height so make sure to change these if this is the case. To prevent this, clip a dish to the side of the cage.
Ferrets can be finicky eaters and variety is key to keeping ferrets healthy and happy. Switching up pellets or flavourings can help break up the monotony for them. Other than traditional pellets and kitten food, why not conjure up some homemade fodder? Supplement pellet diets with cooked or raw chicken. Chicken baby food is also an acceptable addition too. Just remember to always keep pellets in your ferret’s diet as they contain essential nutrients and also help clean their teeth too.
What Treats Can I Give my Ferret?
Just like us, all animals love treats. However, you can make smart choices when it comes to the health of your ferret. Good treats for ferrets include:
- Cooked eggs
- Cat treats
- Raw fruits or vegetables (one tablespoon size daily)
Ferrets aren’t fussy when it comes to what piece of meat they are eating. Many owners head to their local butcher and purchase cheap cuts of meat and organs. To save illness, cooking these before feeding them to your ferret is the best option.
What Should I Never Feed My Ferret?
Ferrets are strict carnivores. For this reason, they find it hard to digest foods high in complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, dairy and anything containing sugar.
Accidental poisoning in ferrets is also a common occurrence. They are naturally inquisitive and can get their paws on lethal substances in the blink of an eye. Make sure to keep your ferret away from the following:
- Anything containing caffeine
- Anything containing artificial sweeteners
- Raisins and grapes
- Macadamia nuts
- Ornamental plants
- Tree bark
- Chemical products