What To Feed Your Ferret
After baby ferrets (kits) are weaned, you have to provide all the food Mom ferret used to. However, it's never been easier to provide proper nutrition for your furry little friends. In the last ten years, the demand for healthy, commercially available balanced ferret food has produced (arguably) just that. In the Sept/Oct 2007 issue of Ferrets, vets were asked what they thought was the best medical breakthrough in ferret care. "Advancement in nutrition" came in at number 7.
Don't Take Ferrets' Words For It
Ferrets are not too finicky about their food, which can lead them into a lot of gastro-intestinal embarrassments. They also can get fat. Although the thought of a fat ferret can make you giggle, a fat ferret, unfortunatley, goes through all of the dangers that a fater dog, cat or person goes through. Too much weight makes the body work harder and can lead to premature death.
You also shouldn't rely on giving ferrets canned or dry cat food or dog food, as was popular about twenty years ago. Food for cats is formulated for the strictly high protein, long sleep day nature of a cat. Dog food ...well, is dog food, and does not have enough protein. Also, it tends to contain corn, which a ferret cannot digest at all. Dog food also does not contain taurine, which a ferret needs for a thriving cardiovasculr system.
Raw meat is not a good idea for feeding pet ferrets, even though wild ferrets eat this. Raw meat can contain parasites that will infect your pet.
But commercially manufactured ferret food is considered balanced enough and specialized enough for the unique nutritional needs of a ferret. The ferret chow comes in kibble and cans, looking very similar to cat food. Check that chicken, turkey or lamb is the number one ingredient.
Breaking Down The Numbers
You need to stay somewhat inside the ballpark in percentages of nutrients for the proper feeding of ferrets. Everyday, your pet ferret needs:
- 33% protein (at least)
- 20% high fat (preferably from protein sources like gravy)
Vitamin supplements are not necessary unless your ferret is ill or your vet advises to put your pet on them. There are vitamin supplements made just for ferrets.
Good things to feed your ferret are commercvially available ferret kibble, canned food, treats, boiled eggs, high quailty kitten food, a small amount of mashed or cooked vegetables or fruits (no raisins or grapes) as treats only. Human baby food makes a nice treat -- Gerber Second Stages Chicken especially recommended by ferret care websites. Ferret vitamin supplements could also be used as a treat.
Please don't feed your ferret sweets, chocolate, candy, cakes, dog rawhide, salty human junk food snacks (some ferrets have died of salt poisioning), nuts or seasoned table scraps. Although ferrets like dairy treats, milk products will give them digestive problems -- unless it is lactose free milk.
And absolutely no alcohol and no caffeine. Your ferret will be a handful as it is without being either drunk or hyperactive. Seriously, alcohol or caffeine can do very severe dmamge to a ferret's cardiovascular system and lead to a premature death.
Looking at the "Bad Stuff" list, it makes you wonder why we eat most of the stuff on the list!