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What Do Ferrets Eat?

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Ferrets are domesticated mammals falling in the group of Mustela putorius furo, or the weasel family. Ferrets are carnivores and are closely related to animals including ermines or stoats, minks and weasels. Since ferrets don’t have a cecum and appendix, their digestive systems can’t handle fiber-rich or carbohydrate-rich food. The natural diet of the wild ancestors of ferrets consisted of small prey including organs, bones, meat, fur, feathers and skin. The principal diets of ferrets are those rich in fat and protein like meat and animal products.

The European Polecat and the Black-footed FerretThe European polecat (M. Putorius) and the black-footed ferret.

How about other types of foods?

Ferrets also can’t digest fruits, vegetables and grains. The total time ferrets take to digest is typically between three to four hours. Ferrets need food and water available continuously during all times. These factors need to be considered in choosing the right food for ferrets reared at homes.

In the domestic environment

The best option for a ferret food is the dry food especially manufactured for their needs. Sometimes, kitten food will do well. It is never a good idea to give cat or dog food to ferrets, which will make them ill and may even cause death in the long run. The Innova brand makes specifically suitable food for ferrets and it is available in most leading pet shops. The other foods available for ferrets in the market include EVO ferret food and Wysong Ferret Archetypal-1 or Archetypal-2.

How about fruits and eggs?

For no more than a couple of times in a week, small pieces of soft fruits can be given. Ferrets can eat both raw and cooked eggs. Giving them too many eggs impairs the secretion of biotin, consequently leading to hair loss.

What is the best food for ferrets?

Foods ideal for ferrets should meet their daily nutritional needs. Products that have tocopherols as a preservative are good for ferrets since these are best sources of vitamin E and have antioxidant properties. Beet pulp used in ferret foods is also good for them. One must avoid ingredients derived from corn, soybean and grains. Ferret foods must also not contain fruits and vegetables. These foods might lead to blockages that can only be removed by surgical processes. Ferrets can be given mice and raw meat.

Other foods to avoid

Sugar in excess quantities may also prove fatal for ferrets. Always avoid foods that use artificial preservatives. No dairy products like milk, cheese or ice cream should be given to ferrets. Ferrets can be given cooked chicken, turkeys or beef occasionally. As these animals can’t distinguish good food from that of harmful food and therefore, pet owners need to be extra careful in feeding them.