Before you are getting a ferret, it is good to research this pet and find its needs such as behavior, housing or diet. I often get asked by people, if ferrets are carnivores or omnivores.
Carnivores, are animals which eat meat, and require protein based diet in order to stay healthy and thrive. They are hunters and usually feed on other animals. Carnivores don’t consume plants.
Omnivores refer to animals that eat and thrive on both meat and plants. These animals can digest protein, fiber, fat, and carbohydrates from both plants and animals and turn them into nutrients and energy.
Ferrets are carnivores and they are extremely good hunters. Ferrets usually hunt for smaller prey, but they can catch animals which are bigger in size. Their digestive system can only process animal fats and protein, so they don’t eat vegetables or fruit.
Wild Ferret Diet
In the wild, ferrets usually eat whole animals. Since the bodies of ferrets are tube-shaped, they run through tunnels and burrows to ambush, capture, maim and eat their prey.
The black-footed ferret is popular for running into rabbit holes and using its sharp claws and teeth to catch rabbits. Wild ferrets are nocturnal—they are most active during the night. Consequently, they hunt for animals such as coyotes, badgers, and owls that are also most active at night.
The diet of wild ferret includes:
- Mammals such as prairie dogs, rabbits, possums, hedgehogs, and rodents.
- Reptiles such as lizards and frogs
- Fish and amphibian
- Bird eggs
- Carrion and invertebrates
Pet Ferret Diet
Ferrets have a fast metabolic rate that processes and passes food quickly. They best thrive on a diet that is high in protein, low in fiber, and high in fat.
Unfortunately, pet ferrets are susceptible to a wide range of nutritional diseases. Knowing what to feed your pet can help you minimize the risk of it developing digestive complications and falling ill.
Several ferrets dietary foods are available in the market, some better than others, while some are priced higher but not any healthy. Whatever you choose should consist of:
- 30-38% high protein
- At least 20 percent fat contents
- 3 percent and below fiber and carbohydrate contents
In the store, pet ferrets foods are sold under premium quality foods for ferrets. These foods pass through veterinary clinics for testing and certification.
Premium ferret foods are also palatable and nutritionally adequate for your small friend. Some also come with ingredients that provide essential vitamins and minerals that ferrets need to develop and combat diseases.
The only downside of premium ferret foods is their high cost. In any case, you cannot afford to buy the packaged food; you can as well shop for generic cat foods that are a bit low-cost. You can’t go wrong with generic cat foods as they are also high in protein content and low in fiber.
Well, sometimes you’ll want to spruce up the bond between you and your pet by dashing a few snacks.
Ferrets don’t always need snacks in their diet, but you can still serve them things such as biscuits. However, make sure that whatever you serve is not too sugary, as this may cause nutritional conditions such as obesity.
What Kind of Meat do Pet Ferrets Eat?
Ferrets eat any kind of meat—muscle meat, ground bone meat, and organ meat. Whether raw or cooked, your ferret should thrive on meat, as long as it is high in protein, fresh, and not contaminated.
Also, ferrets eat meats of a wide range of animals—chicken, game bird, cow, lamb, goat, offal, rabbit, turkey, pigeons, duck, rats, and so forth.
When feeding your little friend, make sure that the diet replicates its wild, natural diet. This way, you will meet its nutritional needs.
Also, ferrets like to hide leftovers to munch them later in the day. Raw meat, when kept for long, can go off, leading to poisoning. Therefore make sure to check on your buddy regularly to minimize the chances of this happening.
Can Pet Ferrets Eat Eggs?
Yes, ferrets eat boiled, scrambled, or raw eggs. However, vets advise serving eggs to ferrets twice or once a week, since they can make your pet obese.
The middle-white part of an egg is 95% protein without fats, making it an ideal supplement in your pet’s diet. Conversely, the yolk contains little protein and fats, making it ideal for adding weight to malnourished ferrets.
Lastly, eggshells contain minerals such as calcium–which helps with bone and teeth strengthening. However, vets recommend powdered eggshells since they do not stick in the throat like cracked ones.
Can Pet Ferrets Drink Milk?
Yes, ferrets will drink milk and dairy products such as cheese and ice cream, however, since their digestive system lacks the enzymes that digest lactose, it is best to avoid milk products in your pets’ diet.
A little amount of milk usually will not cause any problem, but keep dairy products away from your pet, because it may not be worth the risk.
Milk can help if your ferret gets constipated. In this case always consult a vet first, before giving your ferret milk.
Can Pet Ferrets Eat Vegetables?
No, ferrets do not eat vegetables or fruits since their digestive system do not process them. Most vegetables are complex carbohydrates that contain a lot of fiber. Unfortunately, ferrets cannot digest fibers due to their high metabolic rate and short intestinal tract.
Some vegetables contain proteins that ferrets cannot digest properly. Too much vegetable protein cause health conditions such as bladder stones, gastroenteritis, and ulceration of the skin.
Also, when you put your ferret on a vegetable-based diet, it will produce kits with stunted growth, while some will not give birth at all.
Can Ferrets Eat Cat Food?
Yes, ferrets eat and thrive on cat food, especially kitten food. When purchasing, ensure that the cat food contains 30-40% high protein and at least 10% fats.
Whatever food you serve your pet determines its psychological and mental well-being. Since ferrets are obligate carnivores (strictly carnivores) purpose to maintain a protein-based diet since animal proteins sit well in their system.