Ferrets are curious creatures whose curiosity does not stop when it comes to food. Because of this, it may be tempting to feed your ferret a variety of different treats, but what is really appropriate for their digestive system? When it comes to bananas, can ferrets eat them?
Although some may say that bananas are fine to feed your ferret, the American Ferret Association advises against feeding ferrets this fruit. Ferrets are carnivores, which means that their bodies are not equipped to process anything other than meat, making bananas a potential danger to their health.
Bananas are a sweet, dense fruit that many people find to be refreshing and satisfying. Because of the popularity of this fruit, ferret owners may be inclined to let their beloved pet take a nibble or two so that they also can enjoy its sweet taste and satisfying texture. Although the thought behind this sentiment may not be harmful, actually feeding your ferret a banana may be. Continue reading below to find why your ferret shouldn’t eat bananas.
Why Shouldn’t Ferrets Eat Bananas?
Ferrets are considered to be obligate carnivores, which means that they are a species that depends completely on meat to give them the particular nutrients that are only found in animal flesh. This may be surprising to some, as ferrets tend to seem more like scavengers when it comes to their diet, however, their anatomy is simply not equipped to digest items that deter from protein.
Due to their specific anatomy that is designed to only ingest and process meat, ferrets should not eat bananas. This should be avoided because bananas are considered to be a complex carbohydrate that is also high in sugar, which can be harmful to your ferret’s health if ingested.
If a ferret were to ingest bananas, this carbohydrate packed with sugar will not be digested once consumed beauce ferrets lack cecum. The cecum is what hosts the bacteria that aids in the digestion of plant matter, and without this, ferrets cannot process fruits such as bananas. Therefore, when given bananas, it can lead to uncomfortable health issues that owners generally try to avoid.
Along with lacking cecum, ferrets also have very short digestive tracts. This may seem irrelevant at first thought, but in order to process complex carbohydrates like bananas, animals and humans alike need a digestive tract that is long enough to give the food time to actually be digested. Due to the length of ferrets digestive tract, there is not enough time for bananas to be digested, which ends in them absorbing no nutritional benefits from this item.
What Will Happen if a Ferret Ingests Bananas?
After reading the previous section, you may be worried that any type of encounter with bananas will result in immediate peril for your beloved ferret. Although bananas are not considered to be a healthy snack for your pet, they are not so harmful that after one bite they will lead to a premature death. However, some ferrets’ digestive tracts are more sensitive than others and giving them bananas over a long period of time can be harmful.
If a ferret were to ingest bananas, it could lead to discomforts like diarrhea or vomiting. You may also notice that your ferret has a loss of appetite or is displaying signs of sluggish behavior. A small piece may have no effect on your ferret, but regular consumption can cause more serious issues.
If your ferret consumes a small piece of banana and displays no signs of discomfort or illness, there is no need to do anything more than avoid giving them this fruit in the future. However, if they consume this fruit and you notice that they do become lethargic, are experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, or no longer have their normal appetite, they should be taken to a veterinarian to see if they have contracted any type of serious health issue.
For those that are regularly feeding their ferret bananas, problems more serious and more permanent can occur for your pet. If your ferret is consuming bananas on a regular basis, this can lead to the development of insulomina, which is caused by the regular ingestion of high sugar foods. Insulomina is a tumor found on the pancreas which causes an increase in insulin within their body, leading to dangerously high blood sugar.
What Other Foods Should be Avoided When Feeding Ferrets?
Now that you know that bananas are not an appropriate snack for your favorite ferret pet, you may be wondering if there are other items that should be avoided due to the construction of their digestive tract and how it processes (or does not process) complex foods. Feeding your ferret should not be a stressful venture full of worry and second-guessing, so take a look below to find other foods that should be avoided when feeding or treating your pet.
You know that bananas are not a good choice when it comes to feeding your ferret, but there are other fruits out there that are not as high in sugar and fiber, which may lead you to think that they would be safe enough to treat your pet with. Although this may be the case for some fruits compared to bananas, no fruits should even be given to your ferret as their bodies simply are not equipped to process the sugar found within them.
If fruits are not safe for your ferret, then it must be fine to feed them vegetables, as they lack high amounts of sugar and are packed with all kinds of beneficial vitamins and minerals. Although sugar is not prolifically found with vegetables, they are still considered to be a complex food that is too difficult for your ferret to digest. Because of this, you will find that when consumed, the vegetable item will generally be excreted exactly how it looked when consumed.
It may be tempting to feed your ferret a piece of rich cheese, as they would be more than happy to accept it, but any type of dairy should be avoided for your pet. Dairy is also considered to be a complex carbohydrate, but it can be even more irritating than fruits or vegetables to their digestive tract. This can lead to diarrhea or vomiting within hours of consumption and if eaten on a regular basis, can even cause cancer.
Although grains are going to be part of your ferret’s diet to some degree when feeding them commercial ferret food, grains are never absorbed when consumed by this animal. If you are looking for a high-quality ferret food, be sure to find one that is low in grain and high in protein. This also means that you should avoid giving them obvious grains like rice, bread, or other similar items as they will not be ingested and can cause constipation.
Onions and Garlic
These two items may seem a bit odd when making the list of foods to avoid when feeding your ferret, but it goes beyond directly feeding them these items. Although they should never consume raw onions or garlic, ferrets should also never eat anything that contains these items either. Onions can cause hemolytic anemia and garlic can cause their kidneys to shut down – both fatal conditions to your ferret.