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What To Feed Your Ferret

Updated on November 14, 2007
Utensils are optional when it's dinnertime for ferrets.
Utensils are optional when it's dinnertime for ferrets.

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 Stuff

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.

Bad Stuff

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!

Nothing like home cookin'! Film by Dahl1a

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    jessie 9 years ago

    so what do i feed my pet for a treat

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    Christopher 9 years ago

    Thanks for links and info on healthy food. All the best to you.Beautiful ferret too. :-)

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    Susie 8 years ago

    It's good to look for the first three ingredients in ferret food to be meat based. Corn products in ferret food can lead to blockage in ferrets. I'm currently feeding Evo, another good ferret food is Wysong. Ferrets are so much fun to play with!

  • Bueller's Way profile image

    Bueller's Way 8 years ago from Massachussetts

    My little monsters are always after 2 things. Cereal milk and beer. I never give them any but sometimes they manage to spill one of the two and go nuts lapping it up. I remove them and they get obsessive instantly. Little drunks.

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    wendy 8 years ago

    hi my mother ferret and her babys were stollen and i have managed to get the babys back and i am finding it really hard 2 get the small 1 to eat or drink the other 1 has came on good aqny tips 4 me please

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    AshleyRae 8 years ago

    We found a ferret in our yard last night. We plan on keeping him if nobody replies to the signs, but I cant get him to eat. I can't get to the store for ferret food yet and he wont eat anything I have. Is there anything I can do to get him to eat? Also, he is chewing the door frame trying to get out. Should I let him out ?

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    Irene 8 years ago

    I live in Calgay found an albino ferret . just wandering the streets, a big cat was following to check it out. How much exercise does a ferret need every day?

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    Rebecca 8 years ago

    hi, im from new zealand and this morning my dog bought home an approx. 3 day old kit..i have been feeding it kitten milk but what else can i feed it? how should i look after it?

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    vinny 8 years ago

    ferrets are insane i just got one 2 days ago and it misbehaves gets into everything and shits like every minute, its name is ralph i want to take him back to the pet store

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    david 8 years ago

    my ferrit died in my arms 2day am realy sad it was jumping about last nite and then this morning it was on the verge of calling it dead it then droped its head and died. what was wrong with it please email me if u think u know why it just died at davy_1993@hotmail.co.uk

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    jo 8 years ago

    Actually a lot of ferrets a very picky about there food if they are use to eating one kind of food they like to stick with that one food. Its easier to get them to switch if you have there new food with there old food. Ferrets don't tend to over eat either, not saying that they wont its just not really something you have to worry to much about unless you notice them starting to get overweight. Raw food is a lot healthier to feed your ferret then kibble actually a lot of ferrets tend to have softer and healthier fur, they go a lot less and there stool oder is cut down a lot, they have more enery, and it helps them keep there teeth clean when they chew on the bone. When you are feeding them ferret food you need make sure there food is at least 33 percent protein, and at least 20 percent fat, and a maximum of 3 percent fiber. corn, wheat, oats, barley, rye, or rice should be avoided in large quantities; foods that list any of these as their FIRST ingredient should NOT be fed to a ferret. If you are unsure on what to feed your ferret or what is best for your ferret its a really good idea to look at all the pros and cons that both ra

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    Jo 8 years ago

    Hit the wrong button but anyways its a good idea to look at the pros and cons of both raw

  • profile image

    Jo 8 years ago

    Hit the wrong button but anyways its a good idea to look at the pros and cons of both raw and

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    ash 7 years ago

    ferrets should NOT be given fruits or veggies as they do not properly digest. http://www.craftycreatures.com/forferretsonly/ferr... please read more on the natural ferret diet and their anatomy before mashing or cooking any veggies or fruits. other sites are out there on the ferret diet as well. any vet that would suggest veggies/fruits for a ferret you should consider switching vets to a more knowledgable one about ferrets over all health, that doesn't discredit your vets ability with other animals at all :)

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    thom 7 years ago

    what iis the best stuff to feed my kits

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    ross + ben 7 years ago

    what is the best foood for my baby kits ?? cheers

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    ash 7 years ago

    the best food for ferrets is their natural diet, meat! doesn't have to be raw :) kits are easier to turn onto new food than adults. from birth to about 6 months is the easiest to introduce new foods. chicken seems to be a favorite amongst a lot of owners who feed the natural diet. i feed mine boiled chicken hearts and gizzards blended in with the water boiled with it as well as unlce jim's duck soup 1tbs(for introducing new food) also half a boiled egg. i just recently started changing their diet due to articles and research, i can say their poops smell better, more energy and coats are silky/shiney! I should also tell you I have introduced mice in their diet (frozen ofcourse) from a local pet store. that is also blended up so they are more opt to eat it up! 7 ferrets here :)

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    Robbie 7 years ago

    hi , just got 2 ferrets 4 months old , I am feeding then raw meat ( beef heart , lamb heart , liver , and some dry cat biscuits. Is that ok please let me know , they are growing fast . can they get fat?

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    pet ferret 7 years ago

    I could have sworn I also read somewhere that ferrets can't digest fiber, and veggies have a large amount of this. Otherwise great info, thanks for imparting the knowledge.

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    Jade -N- Chris 7 years ago

    We got our ferret about 3 months ago. He is a handful but i got him at 3 months old and I have to wet his food so he can eat it. When do I take him off of wetting it? I tried and he wont eat it.

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    sammy 6 years ago

    my mother ferret gave birth to 11 kits 2weeks ago however last night she suddenly fell ill and died this morning. A further 9 kits have died and I'm hand rearing the other 2. I'm feeding them lactol milk every 2 hours and helping them go to the toilet, however, I'm not sure exactly how much too feed them...please help!

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    Rob 6 years ago

    It is very difficult what to feed ferrets, I have kept to their strict diet of almost pure protein via dried ferret food, the darker the food seems to be the healthier and more protein it contains, this is in the UK anyway, they love it!

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    sam 6 years ago

    i brought 2 9 week old ferrets yesturday,,,,ive got them on ferret food called ferret complete which im havcing to add warm water too,as they wont eat it dry,only now all they want to do is bite,,ant idea why?

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    Ashley Ricketts 6 years ago

    Well maybe if you read this it tells you up above...( 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.)

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    dirnali ageless 6 years ago

    I have two female and one male ferret. ages 5,4, and 2. They have decided that if the food i give them doesn't have Purina cat chow in it, they don't want it! lol I have to mix it with their regular food. found a recipe for an awesome smoothy I thought you might like!

    1/4 cup whiskas cat milk(lactose lowered, taurine and thiamine added)

    1 egg yolk

    a generous squirt of ferretone

    mix and serve at room temp.

    my kids love this! (my fuzzy kids anyway lol)

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    lynsey 6 years ago

    i have 3 baby ferrets about 5 months old i feed them twice a day with wet and dry cat food but they just don't seem to gain any weight can some one advice me why

  • profile image

    lynsey 6 years ago

    i have 3 baby ferrets about 5 months old i feed them twice a day with wet and dry cat food but they just don't seem to gain any weight can some one advice me why

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    hi 6 years ago

    i like to tink that when a pet dies it gos somewere happy not sad!!!!!!! if your pet has died call 0174321345678

  • profile image

    hi 6 years ago

    i like to tink that when a pet dies it gos somewere happy not sad!!!!!!! if your pet has died call 0174321345678

  • profile image

    ashley 6 years ago

    thanks for so much info i hope i get a ferret sometime

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    catsy 6 years ago

    My son found a ferret while driving, he almost ran over it. Needless to say he brought the rodent home and I yelled but my son won. He is now my little buddy. He is tempermental as my son lol and is one of the family. So much so he is not in a cage. When he moved in he claimed an old chair and burrows in it. He also likes my sons closet and we have a box with lid fixed up for him to sleep in also. He has been with us for 3 years and I love him to death. I did realize that you can train them to do what you want, takes some time but they are so smart. He goes to the bathroom on training pads I keep in one corner. Has no other accidents. Babi (his name cause he was so small) also has 2 areas for food and one for water. It keeps him in instinct mode. He loves his treats but must eat his food first. I love him and wish everyone could actually have one for their family. They are funny and very lovable.

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    Ferret Hammock 6 years ago

    Ferrets need a MINIMUM of 40% protein AND 20% fat. Fat is what ferrets use for energy, not carbohydrates. Never give your ferret ANY fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts, peanuts or grains(crackers/cereal). They cannot digest these things.

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    John Curtis 6 years ago

    Our baby girl, Treecko, dies in my arms last night, at the age of 8. She was the sweetest little creature! She was healthy as a horse and then she started just stopping in the middle of the floor and laying down. We didn't think nothing of it, cause she didn't seem to be in pain. The next day I noticed she had dirhea. That night, I went in her room and she was unresponsive and barely breathing. My wife, boys and I laid on the bed with her, talking to her, hoping she would respond. A few hours later, I took her from the bed, where she was laying with my wife and held her in my arms. She began to jerk a little and her breaths became spread out, until she took her last one. Her little legs twitched and she was gone. I don't know if I have ever hurt so bad over a pet. I am an Army Ranger Vet and have been through some tough things, but, that moment, I cried like a baby. We went out today and purchased a little boy and girl kits. They are so much fun, already and it has done my boys good to have them. They will never replace Treecko, but, I am sure they will carve their own special place in our hearts. Enjoy them while you have them! Once they are gone you really miss them! Treecko is the only Ferret that I have ever seen that obeyed orders, like lay down and roll over. She would, also, jump when told too. Very smart animal! My 9 year old son taught her the tricks.

    RIP Treecko! I know you are waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge and we will be there to pick you up as we complete our journey! We love you little girl!

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    Zues 6 years ago

    Just bought my first Ferret, his name is Taz i'm not sure how old he is exactly but i'm guessing around 5 months because of his size and temperment, i'm having a hard time getting him to eat his dry Ferret food, the stuff was expensive but honestly im considering getting some wet cat food and mixing the two, i know kitten food with high protien, but i just hope it works, i also considered cracking an egg over the dry ferret food, would that be ok to try out?

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    zabriana 5 years ago

    i just found a baby ferret in my front yard. i hve no clue on how to take care of it. HELP ME!!

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    rebecca 5 years ago

    i've had my two ferrets since they were born for about a year now, and i fell in love with them right away. they are so much fun and although take up a lot of time, money and attention it is all well worth it.

    I have always fed them on tinned cat food and milk, but recent research that i have been doing has said that it is unhealthy for them, but other people have said they were fine! so what should i feed them to keep them healthy?

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    lindsay 5 years ago

    I have recently brought myself and my daughter 2, 9 week old male ferrets called charlie and sam. They are already little terrors and nipping, so I'm trying to train them as much as I can as I don't want them to grow up biting. I feed them dry ferret foods, hamster treats and chicken, with shredded wheat for breakfast and they love it. In a weeks time I will add something else to the diet and will continue to do so as I don't want them to have bad stools by rushing it.

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    shala 5 years ago

    How do u teach them to do tricks?

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    Jennifer 5 years ago

    Please do your research before getting a ferret! They can be very expensive to take care of and need lots of exercise. They are not meant to be caged animals. Commercial ferret food is a joke and cat food is not good for them either. Ferrets cannot digest ant types of fruit, veggies, or grains! A raw meat diet is best. This article sounds ridiculous when it says raw meat is not good for them even though they eat it in the wild! How does that make any sense? You don't have to choose a raw diet for your ferrets but at least research it and be informed.

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    Jennifer 5 years ago

    Oh and by the way freezing raw meat in a deep freeze for at least 2 weeks kills any possible parasites.

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    Zara 5 years ago

    I really want a ferret but I want a baby 1 2 start off wiv where can I get 1? by the way can take them for a walk on a leash???

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    christina 5 years ago

    what is the best food brand and name to give your ferret? i would like to know soon as possible bec i just got him last month for christmas we got him from someone..she been feeding the ferret premium hearty chicken flavor blend and its hard food.. is that good for him? because a lot of people are telling me yes and then some people are telling me no because walmart stuff isn't good for them and not enough protein i am confused, someone please help me.???? if you can email me at christinaklein25@hotmail.com and let me know plz.

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    william hazell 5 years ago

    hi,

    my female ferret is about to give birth and i don't now wot i feed the kit when i start weening them help pls????

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    joshregan 5 years ago

    i am getting 2 or 3 ferrets for ferreting not as pet when my mum was younger she had 2 ferrets and she fed them on bread and milk and cat sashies and they lived to 7

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    whiskandbowl 5 years ago

    Lots of misinformation on this article.

    -A healthy ferret fed a proper diet will rarely overeat to the point of obesity.

    -There is no research stating that high end cat foods should not be fed to ferrets

    -Raw IS the best diet for ferrets, their digestive systems haven't evolved to handle most ingredients in kibble. If handled correctly, raw meat is a good and healthy diet.

    -There is no governing body that deals with ferret food, so any company can put a picture of a ferret on a bag and say it is balanced for ferrets

    -Ferrets are obligate carnivores and cannot digest fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, milk products, and sugars. Feeding these items can lead to insulinoma.

    Any and all of the items should NOT be fed to ferrets!!

    Food should be at least 35% protein and 20% fat, and have less than 3% fiber. At least 4 of the first 6 ingredients should be meat.

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    rufus 4 years ago

    so much confusion

    feed, don't feed

    raw, cooked, veg, meat, no meat,

    now wondering about whether i should get one

    maybe the best advice would be from owners who have them for a while now

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    Me 4 years ago

    I have recently found a ferret in my garden and ever since, I have given it canned hot dogs(cold), is that ok?

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