Pet Health Articles

Ferrets - Feeding

What do ferrets eat?ferrets-feeding-1

Ferrets are true carnivores and cannot handle a diet containing more than 4% fiber. There are several good commercial ferret foods available that are dry foods. While cat food has been suggested for use in ferrets in the past, food specifically made for ferrets is more appropriate and is definitely recommended.


"Food specifically made for ferrets is more appropriate and is definitely recommended."

There are diets available to meet the special needs of the growing kits, pregnant or lactating females, and geriatric ferrets. Keep in mind that your ferret "is what he eats", so try to feed him the best food possible, such as one of the premium foods your veterinarian might recommend.

 

How often should I feed my ferret?

Ferrets have a very quick gut transit time (the time from eating to defecating) of three to four hours, so they appear to eat and defecate constantly. As ferrets age, many develop tumors in their pancreas causing the production of excess insulin. Because of this, ferrets can easily develop hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when they are without food, and should be fed several small meals throughout the day. This is most easily accomplished by leaving food out for them 24 hours a day, allowing the ferret to graze throughout the day. Ferrets that spend excessive time eating may become obese and should be offered only limited food quantities.

 

Do I need to give my ferret vitamins?

If your ferret is eating a high quality premium diet, extra vitamins are not necessary.

 

 

Can I offer my ferret treats?

Ferrets do enjoy sweets, dairy products, raisins, fruits, and vegetables, but these foods should be avoided, as they may produce diarrhea and erratic swings in blood sugar. A piece of cooked meat or some meat baby food is fine as an occasional treat.

"Chocolate can be fatal to ferrets."

Chocolate can be fatal to ferrets! Be sure to check with your veterinarian before you feed your ferret any people food, especially snack foods. Dietary changes can contribute to problems such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and pancreatic problems. In addition, ferrets can become overweight if fed an abundance of high calorie treats or foods.

 

What about water?

Fresh water should be available all the time. You can offer water from a sipper bottle or a heavy crockery bowl that will not easily tip over, as ferrets love to play with and spill their dishes.

Rick Axelson, DVM; Updated by Laurie Hess, DVM
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