What Do Ferrets Eat?

Ferrets are wonderful and exotic creatures who need a lot of attention. One of the many things for people who want to own a ferret is what precisely these animals eat and if you should feed them a specific diet or if they’re like many mammals who like to eat almost anything.

Overall, ferrets are carnivores, so they eat meat products strictly. Ferrets have a fast metabolism, so their diet needs high-fat content and a lot of protein. Some of these foods are turkey necks, rabbits, and chickens. Although ferrets may enjoy plant-based products from time to time, this is not a wise choice, as it can cause health issues.

This article will go over more information on what ferrets eat and what they cannot eat. We will also discuss their diet and how much you should feed your pet, and we encourage you to continue reading on to find out more information!

What Exactly Do Ferrets Eat?

© librariansarah / Flickr

Ferrets strictly eat meat. They have short digestive systems like other carnivores and fast metabolism, resulting in a diet high in fat and protein. Ferrets enjoy tastes of treats like fruits and vegetables, but this can leave your fur friend with a bad case of diarrhea, intestinal blockage, as well as varying blood sugar levels. 

Having that information, you want to avoid offering anything that may cause them to fall ill. It is in the best interest of your ferret’s health and well-being to give your fur baby various nutrient-rich foods, which we will discuss further below.

List of Foods Ferrets Can Eat:

Ferrets can eat a wide variety of meats as well as eggs on occasion. They regularly enjoy the following foods listed below:

  • Lamb
  • Rabbit
  • Gamebird
  • Chicken
  • Stripped carcasses
  • Raw animal bones
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Turkey necks

The most beneficial option for your furry friend is raw, high-quality, organic meats. I know the thought of handling raw meat can seem off-putting, especially if you have to feed it to your pet, but this is the most similar to a ferret’s natural diet. 

Remember that your ferret is not just a pet but is also a part of the family, and feeding them high-quality food will help meet their nutritional needs.

Can Ferrets Eat Dried Foods?

You may be surprised to find out that ferrets can indeed eat dry food. There are a few options you can let your fuzzy fur baby have, which include premium kitten foods and dry ferret food. Some may think adult cat food would benefit from kitten kibble; however, dry kitten food is superior to adult cat food because of its high protein content.

Some owners advocate ferrets should not consume that dry food as it does not replicate their wild habitat diet. However, other opinions contradict that statement because of the simple fact that variety is vital. 

Brands sometimes change their ingredients, and you may find your ferret picky. To avoid this, you want to have variety in your ferret diet. Slowly introduce new foods with what they are currently eating. Over time, add more and more of the unknown food to replace the previous one.

Can I Give My Ferret Tap Water?

Just like all other mammals, ferrets need water for basic survival. So you might find yourself wondering if the source of their water matters? The answer is yes and no. 

Household tap water is generally known to have traces of chlorine, fluoride, and other additives. Your ferret may show no bothersome signs from tap water; however, spring water or filtered water are the two best options. 

There are a few things you want to think about when it comes to exactly how you give your ferret their water. 

© Tambako the Jaguar / Flickr

First, you need to think of what you put in it. Most people choose between two options: a bowl or a bottle. A bowl is typically the easiest route to go when cleaning; however, it collects dust, dander, and dirt very fast. Your ferret may also get playful and knock it over if it isn’t heavy enough.

As for a bottle, it will protect their water from debris, but it has its cons too. Bottles are harder to clean and can be a potential breeding ground for algae. 

Offer both to see which works, but ultimately the choice is up to you on how you want to give your ferret their water. 

How Often Should I Feed My Ferret?

Ferrets process their food quickly thanks to their high metabolic rate and short digestive tract. Because of this, they thrive best, eating six to eight small meals throughout the day. Do not be shy to give your ferret a little mental stimulation by hiding their food or putting it in hard-to-reach spots. There is nothing wrong with adding a little fun into their routine, and they will probably enjoy it too!

Overall, you will want to make sure that you always have food (and water) available to them.

Due to their high metabolism mentioned earlier, they naturally enjoy free feeding throughout the day. This also contributes to frequent litter trips, so be sure to keep up with proper bathroom hygiene and care.

What Do Ferrets Eat In The Wild?

In the wild, ferrets prefer to catch whole prey. This can include but is not limited to rodents, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. They are nocturnal creatures who sleep mainly during the day, and when night falls, they are on the hunt for a delicious meal. 

How Do They Like to Hunt?

Ferrets have very sharp teeth to hunt down their prey with, and even though they enjoy communicating and socializing in groups, they find their game in solitude rather than packs. To their benefit, their slender-shaped bodies and eager nature naturally make ferrets pros at digging into holes to chase rabbits and rodents out of their homes. 

© USFWS Mountain Prairie / Flickr

An interesting fact about ferrets is that they are known for a sport of their own, which is rabbit hunting! When released onto the hunting grounds, ferrets dash their way into rabbit holes. Human hunters invest in “ferret finder” collars in case their spontaneous pal corners a rabbit underground. That way, the human can shovel the rabbit out.

What Dried Ferret Food Should My Ferret Eat?

There are many options to choose from when it comes to dried food for your ferret. 

A highly rated brand on Amazon called “Wysong Ferret Epigen 90 Digestive Support – Starch Free Dry Natural Food for Ferrets” is one of the many excellent choices you can choose for your fur animal. Here are some of the reasons why we recommend this product:

  • Genetically appropriate for ferrets
  • It contains no starch ingredients
  • Includes organic meat 
  • It has a ratio of 62% protein and 16% fat
  • It contains natural forms of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants 
  • Supports healthy digestion 

This particular brand is trendy for ferret food, and many users love it for their ferrets! One specific customer even mentions that her fur babies’ coat is both shiner and softer. Unfortunately, pet stores may not sell it near you, so it can be a bit of an inconvenience to others who have just run out of pet food, but we recommend always to check and see how much food is still in the bag and order before it is gone so that it does not bother you.

Going off reviews, this seems like an excellent option for most ferrets. Ultimately though, it is up to you to decide what is best for your pet.

What Foods Can Ferrets Not Eat?

We all want our furry pals to be as healthy and happy as possible, right? To accomplish that, we must feed them what their body was designed to intake. As we stated before, ferrets need a diet rich in nutritious fat and protein. Knowing this, it’s easy to assume they should not consume foods higher in carbohydrates and sugar. 

Here is a list of foods that you should avoid giving to your ferret:

  • Bread
  • Fruit
  • Candy
  • Salt
  • Chocolate 
  • Beans
  • Crackers
  • All carbohydrate-rich foods
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Corn
  • Dairy
  • Nuts

We know what you may be thinking, but don’t worry, ferrets do not feel like they are missing out. Eating meat fulfills their dietary needs but also their taste preferences.

Conclusion

In conclusion, know that meat is your ferret’s best friend because it provides everything they need plus more! It may take time to adjust to a new addition to your family, but the adaptation period usually doesn’t last too long. Also, remember that the essential part of owning a ferret is making sure they are well-loved and cared for. It is well worth seeing them run around and having fun because they have a positive, caring environment and family.

If you need further guidance or information on adequately taking care of your ferret, we have provided many articles to help with the subject. For further details, make sure to reach out to a trained veterinarian you know and trust.

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