A ferret’s diet is one of the most important ways to keep them strong and healthy. A healthy ferret means that you’re not likely to have any crazy antics, biting, or unnecessary upsets in your household. When a new owner treats their ferret like they would with other domesticated animals such as dogs and cats, they may assume that what’s good and healthy in their diet will work the same with ferrets. Unfortunately, this line of thinking has caused a lot more problems than they bargained for.
Before you set up your ferret’s menu, find out exactly what is the best nutritional guidelines for your critter.
Many wonder if ferrets can eat fruit. These are easily given to other animals, so it’s only reasonable that one might conclude that it’s okay for ferrets. However, if you’re thinking along those lines, you need to stop and think again. Ferrets do not have the kind of digestive system that will allow them to break down the compounds in fruits and vegetables, so the nutritional value that we get from those foods will be of no benefit to them.
Ferrets are strictly carnivore. They thrive on meat, which is what their diet should consist of. This is why it is so important to make sure you know the ingredients of any foods you plan to feed your pet. Dogs and cats can easily digest fruits and vegetables, and they usually enjoy them. However, ferrets that are fed this type of produce will generally end up with serious digestive disorders and illnesses that they may not be able to recover from. Their digestive systems are not designed to process fruits, grains, vegetables, corn, or even sugar.
Unfortunately, most processed pet foods contain some of these ingredients, so it is imperative that you check to make sure that your ferret is getting as little of it as possible. Ideally, none of it, but if you can’t find any foods in your area that do not contain any of these things, make sure that it is only a miniscule amount.
So What is The Ideal Diet For a Ferret?
Their ideal food should be strictly meat, bones, and organ meats. We also have an article that focuses on what the best food for ferrets are, which you can find here.
Depending on where you live or where you get your ferret’s food, this is not always easy to come by. You might be able to create your own diet plan to ensure they get the right dietary recommendations. You might be able to visit a local pet store and buy whole prey meat to feed them. And if you want to give them a treat, consider giving them frozen mice or other small prey animals like chicks, rabbits, or rats. Ferrets will really love these treats and it will feed into their natural predator instincts.
Remember, ferrets are extremely inquisitive animals, and no matter what you give them, it’s just a matter of time before they put it in their mouth. One of the ways they explore the world around them is by chewing on different things.
So, you might assume that if your ferret eats it, it must be okay, but that would also be a mistake. In addition to avoiding fruits and vegetables, any foods that may be high in fiber or carbohydrates could pose a danger. Think of your ferret like a little child. They don’t always know what is good for them, so it is up to you as the parent/owner to choose wisely for them.
Why You Should Avoid Giving Fruit to Your Ferret
Fruit is high in fiber and can wreak havoc on a ferret’s tiny digestive tract. Since they are unable to process the fruit, your ferret could develop critical intestinal problems, and in some cases, even cancer. Fruits contain a lot of sugar, which is mostly complex carbohydrates.
In the best case scenario, the fruit will just pass through their system causing little to no effects. However, if you continue to offer it to them, in time, the effects of poor food health will lead to several major health problems.
Because of a ferret’s short intestinal tract, which is very deficient in brush-border enzymes, their systems are unable to absorb a sufficient amount of calories from a carb-based diet. The food passes through their system quickly and the fiber in it attracts fluid and draws it into the gut. This will increase the amount of stool they produce and work more as a laxative rather than a source of usable nutrition.
The more fiber your ferret eats, the more protein-calorie deficient he will become. Over time, this deficiency will begin to show in their ability to do things, weakening the system and opening the door to diseases.
You could expect to see urinary tract, GI, and respiratory infections begin to appear. Ferrets can develop a condition called urolithiasis (when stone like concretions form in the bladder or urinary tract), and failure to reproduce new kits.
If you are getting a new adult ferret from a previous owner or a pet store, chances are they have already established a preference for certain foods. Ferrets do love sugary things and will do anything to get a nice sweet treat, including treats. But that doesn’t mean that the sugar is good for them.
Before you bring your ferret home make, sure you know his dietary preferences. If he has been consuming fruits, vegetables, grains, and other things that are not found in his normal diet, it’s a good bet that you’re going to have a hard time getting him to eat a healthy and balanced meat based diet. In addition, you are probably looking at several health problems down the road that you may not have bargained for.
Having a ferret is a huge responsibility. These are not tiny humans, cats, or dogs, so they cannot be fed like them. If you’re planning on bringing home a new ferret, you owe it to your friend to make sure you know exactly what is best for him and what is not.
To preserve your time together and to make it much more pleasurable for the both of you, it is much better to give your ferret the proper food – a meat based diet that will help them to thrive and live to a ripe old age.