Ferrets are carnivores and must be fed high quality animal protein with high fat content and low in fiber, carbohydrates, sugar and grains. The best way to feed a domesticated ferret is why dry ferret food or high quality kitten/ cat food.
The food ferrets are given should contain anywhere from about 32% to 36% protein (half of which should be derived from meat), at least 18% fat, minimal ash and the supplement taurine to prevent urinary tract problems.
Be sure to look at the content of food you will give your pet because there are times that the content although protein is high, they’ll be fish meal, oil and other by products which is basically empty nutrients or not the healthiest for your little friend. Be sure to avoid foods with added flavours or gimmicks, like raisins, to induce the ferret to eat.
Pet owners should be mindful to give dairy products and dried fruits sparingly as ferrets are lactose intolerant and dried fruit is difficult to digest. Having cow’s milk, similar to the ones that human drink would cause your ferret to have diarrhea and run the risk of becoming dehydrated.
Ferrets do not have the lactase enzyme to breakdown this complex sugar. Ferrets will only naturally consume milk when they are first born from their mother. As they become older and have weaned from milk, they become lactose intolerant.
Milk and milk products given sparingly will not cause much problems. Should you really need or want to give your pet milk, you may opt for lactose reduced cow’s milk as a treat only (Pets Own or Whiskas Cat Milk). Regular milk causes diarrhea and the alternative, soy milk can interfere with absorption of calcium from food.
NEVER GIVE regular dairy products, chocolate, fish-based biscuits or meat, cooked bones, salt, dried coconut, dog’s leather hide chews, sausage mince. These foods are either dangerous choking hazards or potentially poisonous to ferrets.
As previously mentioned, ferrets are strict carnivores. When found in the wild, ferrets receive their nutrients from grains, fruits, vegetables etc. by eating the belly of herbivore animals – they never eat it directly. Ferrets in the wild will eat whole prey (the entire animal), which is much more nutritious than eating only muscle tissue.
As responsible pet owners, it’s vital that you are keeping your ferret on “clean” meat only, e.g. chicken fillets, can therefore lead to malnutrition in the long run. Like ferrets found in nature, domesticated ferrets should be high in protein and animal fat and low in fiber. Food rich in carbohydrates and sugars is not something that ferrets would naturally eat and encounter in the wild.
You can for instance give your ferret whole mice, rats and chicks. Raw meat is easier for the ferret to digest than cooked food.
Commercial dog and cat food vary from the food requirement specific to ferrets. For example, commercial dog food would normally have too high a vegetable (including grains) content to be healthy for ferrets.
Avoid using water bottles for ferrets: These are much more unsanitary than using water bowls, teeth may be damaged and ferrets, with their playful and water enjoying nature would prefer to have an open source of water that will be able to assist in their hygiene as well as allow them to play a little.
Ferrets have a very quick metabolism and feed about every four hours. Ensure that even if you are not present in the home during their meal times, fresh water and food should always be available to them. Ferrets eat only what they need and leave excess food for later, so one need not worry about over feeding.
During the first year of their lives, ferrets imprint on their food during so in order for them to be familiar with different flavors, food and textures, you should ensure that they are exposed to a mix of kibble and meats.
This is sound advice because ferrets are picky eaters and generally enjoy food that is not always good for them. They are especially fussy when they’re sick and generally really suffer from loss of appetite.
Due to this, a number of owners recommend feeding ferrets with a soupy mixture frequently, as a treat. This is called “duck soup” and recipes vary but basically, its kibble soaked in water, baby food, oils, kitten replacer milk, goat’s milk or a variety of other supplements.
When you would like or need to change your ferret’s food, make sure to do this gradually and with a transition so that your pet gets accustomed to new flavors that will make the change not as noticeable to your pet.