Here’s the simple answer: water is the most essential drink for your ferret. Things, however, get a bit more complicated due to the wide variety of choices available that you may want to give your ferret. So, it pays to make sure before you introduce your ferret to some of these drinking options. It only takes one dietary mistake to send your little critter scurrying to the vet with a painful intestinal problem.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common fluids you might be thinking of giving your ferret:
Not Just Any Type of Water
Ferrets need to drink a lot throughout the day. While there is no specific amount of water that a single ferret needs to drink each day, it is important to make sure they have enough water to stay well-hydrated. Unless a ferret is sick, he will find his way to his water bowl or dish as much as 20 times per day. How and when he drinks will depend on how active he is, and what his specific needs are.
It is important to make sure that the water they drink is good for them. Tap water often contains harmful additives that could put their health at risk. Most tap water systems contain harmful levels of chlorine and fluoride. These may not hurt your pet immediately, but those who may already be sick or have a weakened immune system may not fare so well.
Distilled water may also seem like a good option, however distilled water does not give them the essential nutrients their body needs. Because the distilling process removes both contaminants and important minerals, it is not able to restore the right balance your ferret needs. Your ferret needs magnesium and other nutrients in order to stay healthy.
In addition to avoiding distilled water, you should also avoid giving them ionized, oxidized, and polarized water.
While most bottled water is perfectly safe for ferrets, you should know where the bottled water comes from. Some bottled water is simply tap water with a few additives. Always ask and never assume that because it is bottled it will be a healthier choice.
The safest water for your ferret is filtered water. This water does not have any of the unwanted additives, but still provides a lot of essential minerals. Look for bottled spring water or filtered water to make sure that it has not been depleted of its essential minerals and still is a good source of minerals.
Should I Give My Ferret Cool or Cold Water?
It is easy for a ferret to become overheated. If you see them becoming suddenly lethargic, it could be because of heat stress. If he is panting, falls limp when you pick him up, or is salivating it is a dangerous condition. You need to cool the little guy down as soon as possible. Not only should you wipe them down with a cool refreshing cloth, you should also give them some cool water to drink as soon as they are able. Try to avoid giving them water that is too cold though, it can be too much of a shock to their system.
Can I Give My Ferret Milk and Other Dairy Products?
It may seem simple enough to offer your ferret milk to drink. After all, it was mother’s milk that he drank after he was born. However, you need to exercise great care when giving dairy products. While ferrets really love milk and other dairy products, it is not the best dietary choice for them. Ferrets are lactose intolerant and it could make them sick if they consume too much of it. Never rely solely on milk as their primary source of hydration as it could create a major imbalance in their diet.
You can give them some heavy cream but keep it in very small doses. This can be a great way to help your ferret to fill out and put on a few extra pounds if they are under weight. Some ferret owners give them the extra fatty milk only occasionally as a treat rather than as a normal part of their meal.
Can Ferrets Drink Tea?
Tea is a naturally healthy drink for most people, but it is not the best choice for a ferret. There are several ingredients that aren’t good for them. One of the primary ingredients in most teas is caffeine, which can be dangerous. If they accidentally ingest tea in small portions, it is not likely to create lasting damage, however, if given over a longer period of time, it could lead to some major health problems.
Don’t rely on your ferret to instinctively know what is the best choice for them. Ferrets love things that are not well suited for their digestive system. In addition to teas, ferrets also love milk and other sweets that are not good for them. It is your responsibility as owners, to make sure they don’t consume such dangerous and unhealthy things in their diet.
Can Ferrets Drink Coffee?
Like tea, ferrets should avoid drinking coffee of any kind. Primarily because of the caffeine, ferrets can be very sensitive to it if they drink it lot of it. While drinking small amounts of it may not cause any immediate harm, coffee in general is toxic to the little fellow and if it is caffeinated, it will be that much more dangerous.
Other things you need to be watchful for are the additives that you add to the coffee. Some people like to add sugar and/or cream, which adds to the health risks posed. Excessive sugar, for example, can cause the development of an insulinoma over time (an insulinoma is a small tumor in the pancreas, which creates its own health risks up will have to deal with. Even if you drink your coffee black, without any of the additives, it is putting your ferret’s health at risk over time.
Can Ferrets Drink Carbonated Beverages?
While sweets of any kind are bad for ferrets, sodas or other carbonated drinks are especially a cause for concern. No one really understands exactly what is the attraction for these little guys, but it is painfully clear that once they’ve tried it, there is a definite addiction that you will have a difficult time controlling. Their bodies aren’t built to tackle the high sugar content or any of the gases or flavorings that are found in carbonated beverages. Just like with little kids, if you want a host of health problems, add a little soda to your ferret’s diet and you’re sure to find them.
Ferrets love water! Not only do they love drinking it, but they also love playing in it. Because of this, it is easy for a ferret to start drinking something they should not. For that reason, it is important to keep them away from any kind of drink that could be potentially dangerous to them. They have been known to drink up dirty mop water, to dive headlong into a cup of hot coffee or tea or to get into cabinets full of liquids that present major toxic hazards to them.
It is your responsibility to keep an ever vigilant eye on your ferret when he is on the loose. He may see a certain situation as a great place to play to his heart’s content but put his health and life in danger in the process. As an owner of these little critters, it is up to you to make sure that doesn’t happen but be fully prepared to intervene if and when it does.