What is the Best Diet for a Pet Ferret?

What is the Best Diet for a Pet Ferret?

Ferrets have been gradually welcomed into our homes as pets. They are no longer considered unusual, and there is a wide range of products available in stores for caring for them. Food, treats and other products have been designed to meet their every need.

If you have recently adopted a ferret and you're not sure how to care for it yet, we recommend reading our articles on ferrets as pets with guidelines and general tips, the different types of ferrets and how to bathe them.

This AnimalWised article will tell you all about a ferret's diet. With the correct diet and basic care, you will see your ferret grow strong and healthy.

Ferrets are carnivores

Ferrets are carnivorous animals. Their digestive tract is short, so they digest things quickly. They need to eat animal protein because this is easier to absorb than vegetal protein.

Feeding them inappropriate food will cause them digestive problems. Fiber, for example, should not be consumed in excess because it can create constipation problems.

Ferrets eat several times throughout the day. They should always have access to fresh food and plenty of fresh water. They regulate their own food and water intake. However, if you see that they easily put on weight you should pay attention to the quantities and limit the amount of food they have. Still, you should never limit the amount of water.

Food for ferrets

Nowadays, food specifically formulated for ferrets can be found in shops. It comes in dry or wet form. Dry food is more advisable, as it prevents problems associated with plaque build up. It provides all the nutrients your ferret needs. Wet food has a higher water content, which is excellent if your ferret doesn't hydrate regularly, but at the same time it may be less nutritious.

High quality cat food and wet food can also be given to ferrets, but you should never give them dog food. This is because dog food does not contain taurine, which is essential for ferrets.

The composition of the food should be appropriate:

  • A minimum of 35-40% of animal protein
  • A maximum of 15-20% of fat
  • A maximum of 4% of fiber

When you choose the food, take note of the composition and pay particular attention to the origin of the protein. You should look for food with chicken, turkey or beef while avoiding meat by-products.

What do ferrets eat in the wild?

A wild ferret's natural diet is based on rabbits, rodents, birds and other small animals. They not only eat the meat and fat, but also eat the internal guts and organs. This makes it difficult to provide them with a natural diet at home, and given that you usually buy parts of an animal and not the whole of it, your ferret's diet would not be complete.

You can occasionally give your ferret cooked chicken, turkey, beef or organs such as liver or kidneys. Never give your ferret raw food, especially if it's pork. This is because pork can transmit pathogens and make your ferret ill. Many people report a healthy ferret when they provide a raw food diet. However, it is not necessary to give them a raw food diet and some of the ways in which meat is processed may encourage these pathogens in an otherwise healthy meal.

Treats and supplements for ferrets

You can reward your ferret with a number of treats:

  • Commercial treats for ferrets or cats.
  • Malt for cats, as well as being an excellent treat, helps prevent the formation of hairballs.

You shouldn't overuse treats. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, which cannot be easily digested by ferrets. Naturally occurring sugars found in fruit should also not be given in excess. Many will claim you shouldn't give your ferret any fruit or vegetables at all. This is wise if you want to be on the safe side as they are obligate carnivores which don't need them to survive. However, a very small piece of fruit shouldn't do them harm.

As for dietary supplements, there are some products made specifically for ferrets which meet their vitamin needs. Vitamins A, E and C are essential for your ferret to maintain a good state of health. If your ferret's diet is correct they shouldn't need vitamin supplements.

Forbidden foods for ferrets

Since ferrets are carnivores, there are many foods we usually eat that can damage their digestive system and cause diarrhea and other digestive imbalances.

You should avoid the following foods at all times:

  • Chocolate and sweets of any kind.
  • Leftovers of human food: Some ingredients such as onions are bad for ferrets.
  • Raw meat or fish, especially pork.
  • Milk and dairy products.

If you want to read similar articles to What is the Best Diet for a Pet Ferret?, we recommend you visit our Healthy diets category.