Ferrets are carnivorous animals that require a high-protein diet. Here are some guidelines regarding the diet of ferrets.
Ferrets are cute, furry creatures, who are related to otters, weasels and polecats. They are not rodents, but are mammals belonging to theMustelidae family. The origin of domestication of ferrets has been traced back to the period of ancient Egyptians.
Later, these animals were used for hunting purposes. However, they were not commonly raised as pets, till the last decades of the twentieth century.
Now, there are thousands of pet ferrets in the United States itself. However, raising a ferret is very much different from raising a pet cat or a dog. This little creature needs special care regarding his diet and other requirements.
Proper Ferret Diet
Ferrets are strictly carnivorous in nature, and their wild ancestors fed on rabbits, mice, small rodents, and insects. This can be substantiated with the fact that, ferrets have well-developed carnassials, that are specialized teeth meant to tear meat.
Unlike omnivores, these animals do not have the vermiform appendix and cecum. So they are unable to digest foods rich in carbohydrates; or fibrous foods, like vegetables, fruits or grains. They need a high-protein diet with a small amount of fat. This requirement can be fulfilled with meat and animal products only.
However, your pet ferret may feed on anything that comes across its way. An improper diet can be detrimental for the health as well as the lifespan of a ferret.
» Different types of ferret foods are available in the market. Go for the one with 35 to 40% protein, 18 to 30% fat and around 2% fiber.
» While fresh meat is claimed to be the perfect food for ferrets, some people use cooked met for feeding ferrets. However, regular feeding of fatty meat is not recommended. Small, frequent meals of raw/cooked poultry, lamb, fish, beef, and cooked eggs, are sufficient for them.
» Fresh food for ferrets include mice, chicks, eggs, and some types of fish. However, make sure to keep your ferret confined, till it finishes the meal. This is because, these animals can hoard and stack food materials in different locations. Apart from that, eating rotten food may affect their health.
» Being lactose intolerant, ferrets may get sick, if fed with milk. So, it is always better to provide them with fresh water throughout the day.
» An occasional treat of fruits, like banana and pineapple; or vegetables, like broccoli and carrots, is allowed, but in very small quantities. It will be better to cook and mash these foods, before feeding ferrets.
» Other ferret treats include animal parts, boiled eggs, mouse, and pieces of cereal. Treats must be given in very small quantities. Otherwise, it may cause health concerns, like heart diseases, obesity and dental problems.
» When it comes to ferret diet, you must avoid sugary foods, junk food, dairy products, soda, cat or dog food, candy, cakes, chocolates, and sugar coated cereals. While sugars can cause diabetes, other foods can cause life-threatening diarrhea.
In short, ferrets are strictly meat eaters; and their diet should consist of meat and other animal products, high in proteins, with a considerable amount of fat. However, such foods must be low in carbohydrates and fiber.
You must use raw or cooked meat for feeding ferrets. Instead of heavy meals, these animals require small, but frequent food supply. They must get a 24-hour supply of fresh water. It is always better to seek the opinion of a veterinarian about the proper ferret diet, if you decide to raise one as pet.