For many years, ferret owners had to make do with only kitten foods for their ferrets. Due to the rising popularity of our little fuzzies, there are now many high-quality foods available. But what food is best for your ferret? What can ferrets eat?
There are certain things you should know before choosing one kind or another; this article will help you understand what foods ferrets can eat, and what they can’t eat.
Let’s get to it.
What can ferrets eat?
to understand the answer to the question, “what can ferrets eat ?” you’ll need to understand the dieting and eating/ feeding habits of ferrets.
First, ferrets are carnivores – this means they need a diet that’s very high in animal protein. Ferrets cannot process vegetable protein because they lack a cecum (where fiber is digested), so vegetables are nutritionally useless to them.
Too much fiber in a ferret’s diet can lead to a very sick, malnourished ferret. Keep this in mind always when you choose a diet and find one where three or four out of the first six ingredients are meat. Avoid foods where the first ingredient is listed as cornmeal or other plant material.
Second, ferrets have a very short digestion period – the time when the food enters the body until the food exits are only a few hours. Therefore, it is highly essential to make sure you choose a food that is high enough in protein and fat, so your fuzzy can get the most nutrients and nourishment out of the food he eats.
The diet you choose should contain no less than 34% animal protein and no less than 20% fat.
Third, ferrets tend to imprint on the food they are fed – this means that if that food becomes unavailable, you might have one very hungry and stubborn fuzzy on your hands! It is best to feed your ferrets at least two foods in their daily diet.
Can Ferrets Eat…? What can ferrets eat?
Did you know that it only takes 3 full hours for food to pass through a ferret’s digestive tract? A constant supply of food and water is a must in order to keep your ferret in good health. For more all-natural feeding, little animals such as mice and birds can make a great ferret meal.
Can Ferrets Eat Cat Food?
Many people, when unsure of what food to feed their ferrets often as “can ferrets eat cat food?” The answer is Yes, and No, it depends on the cat food.
Having said that, there are some kitten foods out there that are okay to feed your ferret. However, they should only be fed in conjunction with actual ferret diets, and be sure to read the ingredient listing carefully to make sure it has the proper nutrients.
Can Ferrets Eat Wet Cat Food?
Yes, ferrets can eat wet cat food, although dry cat food is highly recommended over moist, wet ones.
The reason being is dry food stays fresh for longer periods of time and contains little or no milk products. Milk is not healthy for ferrets. It will cause diarrhea. However, goat’s milk can be given to babies to supplement their mother’s milk.
Water is the liquid of choice in a ferret’s case although, fruit juice can be a nice occasional treat. Also, dry food is better for the teeth and gums, and it costs a lot less.
Can Ferrets Eat Dog Food?
No, it is not recommended to feed ferret dog food. This is because its protein and fat are not enough to accommodate ferrets nutritional needs.
Dog food also contains plant protein and fiber, which are not easily digested by ferrets and can cause intestinal tract disease.
Can Ferrets Eat Fruits?
Ferrets are meat-eaters, therefore, the main food for ferrets should be meat. But can ferrets eat fruit? The answer is yes, but only occasionally and in small parts, usually as a treat, but remember, high-sugar foods can lead to Insulinoma in ferrets.
Can Ferrets Eat Peanut Butter?
If you’re thinking about whether it’s safe to give peanut butter to your ferret, then the answer is more No, than a yes. Sure you can give a finger-tip of peanut butter to your pet, but it’s highly not recommended to do so, as peanut butter contain many artificial sweeteners and other inorganic ingredients.
Can Ferrets Eat Chocolate?
Every ferret owner must know that chocolate or chocolate products are toxic to ferrets. That’s because chocolates contain a high amount of theobromine. Theobromines in a real sense should be toxic to humans too, but we metabolize them faster than animals when this sweet treat is given in large amounts, it becomes more difficult for a tiny pet such as a ferret to digest.
Some owners may say they only offer small pieces of chocolate to their pets, but the bigger problem is that the theobromine will build up in their system. Therefore, regardless of the amount you offer to them, the effects and damages may go a long way.
So can ferrets eat chocolates? You know the best answer for you and your pet.
Can Ferrets Eat Eggs?
Eggs are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. They provide the most complete and nutritional form of animal protein. In addition to having the highest quality proteins, they also contain known minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and K.
So, Can I give my ferret an egg? Yes, indeed you can let your ferret feast on some eggs, but in moderation and not a substitute for meals. Dairy products, such as eggs, and especially boiled eggs, are some of the most popular treats for ferrets.
If you are looking for an all-natural food for your squeaky friend, then periodically giving him an egg is the right choice. Ferrets love eating whole eggs—ferrets like a high-protein diet. Like salmon and meat, eggs are also an essential source of protein. Therefore, you can egg in your ferret’s diet.
Can Ferrets Eat Raw Eggs?
Yes, ferrets can eat raw eggs as they are high in the much need protein in their diet.
However, if you want to feed raw eggs to your squeaky furry friend, then be sure that the eggs are fresh and in good condition. Additionally, It is also best to only give egg yolks, as egg whites can cause biotin deficiency. Giving egg white to ferrets will cause it to lose its fur, and a furless ferret is something we both do not want.
Can Ferrets Eat Chicken? What About Raw Chicken?
When you run out of the usual ferret food, homemade food is another way to feed your pets.
Can ferrets eat chicken? Yes, they can. You can feed them chicken, either cook or raw chicken, as long as it is fresh. Also, You can feed ferret cooked or raw chicken with pellets.
Additionally, Chicken baby food can also be used as a supplement to the usual pellet diet. Remember that dry food is an important staple because it keeps your teeth clean.
Can Ferrets Eat Tuna?
To clarify, if you’re asking about giving homemade tuna treat to your ferret, then the answer is Yes.
But if the question was can ferrets eat canned tuna?
Yes, if you absolutely must, but NO, if you have other alternatives to feed them.
Tuna does not have any nutrition that is beneficial for the healthy growth of ferrets. Also, for preservation reasons, canned tuna contains a lot of seasonings and salt; and these seasonings are also not healthy for ferrets.
Can Ferrets Eat Fish?
Yes, they can eat fish, but only for the fun it, and the reason is similar to answers about eating tunas too.
Although eating fish does not cause any harm to ferrets, it is not a good idea. The reason is that fish or seafood products can make your ferret smell fishy 😀 .
Fish are not part of the ferret’s natural diet, so they might even taste and smell unpleasant to them, and they may refuse. Chicken, minced meat, turkey, mice, and birds are more suitable diets that mimic the natural diet of ferrets.
Can Ferrets Eat Apples?
You’re not alone if you’re wondering whether your ferret can eat apples. The answer is Yes, they can have a nibble of sweet apples here and there.
Apples, among other nutrients, are a great source of a crucial nutrient needed by the ferrets, which is potassium.
Potassium, similar to cats, also promotes good muscles for our furry pet, so a little piece of apple here and can only do them good. You must remember though, don’t overfeed them with apples, too much of any has never been reported to be good, the same rule applies to small animals.
The team at SqueakyLove advises that it’s important to ensure the cleanliness of the apple, wash it, peel it, and pick out the seeds before offering them to your pet.
switching ferret food –What can ferrets eat?
If you do need to switch your ferret’s food, do so gradually. Switching them too quickly can result in stomach problems and diarrhea. Also, as mentioned before, ferrets imprint on the food they are used to, so you will need to slowly switch them over to a new food so they continue to eat.
You can do this by adding only a small amount of the new food to your ferret’s current diet. Gradually increase the ratio of new food to old food over a period of 10 to 14 days. This method works quite well with most ferrets and allows your ferret to get used to the new food at his or her own pace.
Ferret owners are very lucky that we have so many different foods to choose from, so you don’t keep asking what can ferrets eat, but just because there are a lot of choices now doesn’t mean that all ferret foods are created equal! Remember, when you’re choosing a food, compare ingredient listings, look for the animal protein sources, and avoid foods high in fiber and vegetable protein.
Which Treats Are Best? – what can ferrets eat?
Choosing the proper treats for your ferret is just as important as choosing the best diet. While ferrets should only be given treats in moderation, it is still important to make sure that the treats you choose are healthy and have nutritional value.
Ferret treats should be chosen in much the same way that we choose their diets – you want treats that are high in animal protein and low in sugar. Ferret diets and treats that are high in sugar are thought to be a leading factor of insulinoma in ferrets. Some treats can also aggravate the condition of chronic bowel or irritable bowel disease.
Treats that are best for your ferret’s health include meat and chicken-based treats.
Some people give their ferrets their regular kibble out of their hand – many ferrets will view this as a treat since they are taking it from your hand, and it has the advantage of keeping them on a fairly strict diet. It is also a good way to acclimate them to a new food.
Foods to avoid with your ferret
Avoid giving your ferrets the following treats no matter how much they beg!
- Alcohol and other high-sugar drinks
- Coffee, tea products, and any other caffeine drinks
- Dairy products – they can cause diarrhea
- Seeds & nuts – they are indigestible and can cause blockages
- Sugary foods, such as candy
- Salty foods
- peanut butter treats
- Raw egg whites – they contain a substance that can cause anemia in ferrets
- Processed meats – yes, they are meats, but they also contain a lot of salt and additives.
- Uncooked vegetables – they can get lodged in the intestinal tract.
A small taste of one of the items listed above is not going to kill your ferret, and even good treats can be bad if given in mass quantities. Find healthy treats that are low in sugar to satisfy your ferret’s treat needs, and give them to your ferret sparingly.
No matter what treats you feed your ferret, moderation and common sense are the keys to a healthy and happy fuzzy!
The Sugar Factor – what can ferrets eat?
There are several schools of thought to what is the best diet for a ferret, what treats are the best for ferrets, where treats fit into a ferret diet, but out of all of these opinions and practices, there is one absolute: sugar and other carbohydrates in high doses are not good for ferrets!
Ferrets’ bodies are designed to process animal proteins, and both their diets and treats should be high in protein and low in sugars and carbs. They are carnivores, and you wouldn’t find them munching on sugary treats in the wild!
Feeding ferrets sugary treats and food will actually leave you with an undernourished, lethargic ferret, as sugar and other sweets have no nutritional value for them. Too many sugary treats will fill them up with empty calories, causing them to eat less of their kibble and other nutritious foods.
For a generally healthy, happy, and active ferret, it is best to feed them high protein, meat-based treats, and food.
Many times, people ask “Can ferrets eat human food?” They might be tempted to offer a piece of chocolate or cheese, which may not only be bad for the ferret but may cause some health issues.
Some snacks for ferrets
If you’re wondering if ferrets can eat human foods, then here’s a list.
The following is a list of treats that should only be given to ferrets in moderation:
- Yogurt treats
- Fruit treats
- Nonacidic Fruits – melons, banana, apples, papaya, raisins
- Low salt & low sugar cereals
We all know that raisins and certain cereals (for example, cheerios) are a favorite treat of fuzzies everywhere, and although they both contain sugar, they are acceptable in moderation. Kim Schilling recommends in Ferrets For Dummies that 1 to 2 pieces per day is acceptable. She also suggests that two good bowls of cereal are Cheerios and Kix.
Besides the general lethargy and undernourishment that comes from a diet high in sugar, there are other health problems that have been tentatively linked to it. Ferrets are very prone to a disease called Insulinoma; it is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer diagnosed in ferrets.
Feeding ferrets food and treats that are high in sugar and carbohydrates has been proven to cause Insulinoma because high levels of sugar cause an increase in the level of glucose production, which leads to the constant production of insulin.
This is similar to the effects of Insulinoma – a ferret with Insulinoma has tumors of the insulin-secreting pancreatic cells, which cause the pancreas to overproduce insulin. Since a ferret’s pancreas works to release insulin as it is needed to regulate blood sugar levels, this causes rapid drops in blood sugar.
While this disease is treatable to an extent, it definitely requires a reassessment of your ferret’s diet and lifestyle, as things that trigger symptoms include exercise, stress, and diet. For these Insulinomic ferrets, it is vital that they are given food and treats very high in protein.
It is important that all ferrets – sick or healthy – are provided with the proper food and treats they need to live a long, healthy & happy lifestyle. While treats that contain sugar can be given, they should only be in strict moderation, and only in conjunction with a diet high in protein.
Ferret poop color – Is my ferret healthy?
So how can you tell if your ferret is getting the proper nutrition and the diet you have chosen is the right one?
Healthy ferrets have soft and shiny fur, bright clear eyes, supple skin, and normal feces. Feces that don’t normally include the following:
- Weird color – yellowish, greenish, dark brown almost black
- Very strong smell
- Wrong consistency – ferret feces should be firm. If they are very squishy, mucousy, or liquidy, this is a sign that something – either diet or health-related – is wrong.
So what can ferrets eat?
If you are unable to obtain food specifically labeled for ferrets, you could substitute a high-quality cat/kitten food(meat-based food that is high in protein and low in fiber). If your local pet store does not carry food specifically for ferrets, It is highly recommended that you feed your ferret a mix of food, so as to not imprint them on only one brand.
Problems could arise if for some reason you cannot get that particular brand and need to substitute, as they could refuse to eat the new food leading to health/medical problems.
Canned food should not be provided all the time, but rather as a treat, the hard kibble assists in breaking apart the plaque that forms on their teeth, keeping them healthier and cleaner. It is, however, a good idea to get your ferret accustomed to a mush type food (Duck Soup, Prescription Diet AD, Gerber’s Baby Food) for when they are ill and not eating on their own.
As ferrets have a very small digestive track they require the availability of food and water all the time. There is really no fear of your ferret overeating, due to their high metabolism and their small digestive track which will generally only retain food/water for about 3 hours.
Providing treats/snacks to your ferret should be given only in moderation so it will not interfere with their normal and necessary food intake. Providing them pieces of kibble by hand will often suffice as a special treat.
Raw vegetables should not be given as their bodies are unable to break the fiber down and can lead to intestinal problems and other health issues such as blockages, diarrhea, etc. Any treat you provide for your ferrets should be meat-based, do not provide any sugary treats. Keep in mind ferrets do not crave treats, this is a human emotion, so provide very sparingly.
What are your thoughts on what can ferrets eat?
Can ferrets eat cat food?
Can ferrets eat dog food?
Do you know the answers to these questions now?
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