Feeding Ferrets: What ferrets love

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As Picnic Month continues, we’re looking a little more closely at the food your ferrets will love. What is good for them and what will have them running for the dinner bowl.

In case you missed it – ferrets are obligate carnivores – they can only eat meat and high protein content food.

A varied ferret diet

It is always a good idea to introduce a varied diet to your ferrets. That way, if they get sick and won’t eat a certain type of food, you have plenty of other options open to you.

If you’d like to feed your ferrets a raw diet, please keep away from anything processed like bacon, ham, sausage, burgers. It’s best to feed unprocessed meat.

What is ideal is things like raw pig heart, kidney, and liver. If you can get it, give it to them. It’s raw, 100% meat and nothing processed. And it is awesome. But remember not to give them too much kidney or liver as they’re a bit rich! If they’re mixed in with heart and raw chicken, that’s fine for everyday – just don’t be tempted to feed them pure liver and kidney every day!

Raw chicken on or off the bone, raw rabbit, birds are all fine if your ferrets are used to dealing with raw food. If they aren’t, they might not like whole animals to eat. That might be something you move up to!

Pork, beef mince, sirloin steak (if you’re feeling flush!), prawns are all fine too. I used to order a pizza with prawns and tuna and one of my ferts would have the prawns, another would have the tuna and I’d eat a margherita pizza! 🍕 (that said I made sure there was no cheese on the meat and would rinse off the prawns first!!)

Prawns are great, raw or cooked. As long as they don’t have any sauce or spice on there – don’t take them out of your Marie-rose dressing to give to a ferret!

You can give them tuna – yes it has mercury in but you’d have to give them LOADS before you need to worry about that. Just make sure it’s only in spring water NOT brine (SALT-tastic) or oil (just to be sure).

Dog food

Another great option is raw food designed for dogs. As long as it’s 100% raw meat (without grain) it’s great for them. Always check on the back to make sure about the grain. Dogs are omnivores so can eat a bit of everything, so some some foods will have other things in there. Always check the label to be sure.

Cooked meat – we often cook chicken (without the bone) and chop it up to give to our fertles. Although you don’t have to chop it up – we just spoil ours! It’ll be chopped up in to bits and fried off with something like rapeseed oil which is fine for ferrets. We’ll give that to poorly and old ferrets because it’s nice and bland and easy for them to digest while being nicely high in protein.

Ferret food

Specially formulated ferret kibble is always a great option and ‘store cupboard’ essential. It lasts a lot longer in the cage than raw food (especially if the weather is warm) and it also has ingredients that lessen the stinkiness of those poos! Just bear in mind that kibble diets mean there is more volume to the poops – they will be bigger and browner rather than smaller and darker which you would expect on a raw diet.

In terms of properly designed ferret foods, we recommend Gilbertson and Paige’s Dr John’s Merlin. It’s specifically for ferrets because it has the right ratio of protein to oil. Merlin kibble is all triangular in shape. Similarly there is Science Selective “Supreme” ferret kibble too. These are the ones shaped like bones! 🦴😍

Vitalin and PetsAtHome also produce ferret kibble. We don’t use it ourselves but we know people who do. (Vitalin is the one shaped like a throwing star ⭐). There are many other specifically formulated ferret kibbles out there and many people also prefer to give their carpet sharks a blend of several different brands which is a great idea!

Sadly I can confirm that James Wellbeloved has ceased production of their ferret food which is a real shame as it was one of the few ferret kibbles with a turkey meat base rather than a chicken meat base – good for those few parky ferts who can’t eat chicken!

Avoid Cat kibble

Cat kibble while also containing protein and oils can also include vegetables and even cheese so it’s NOT SUITABLE for ferrets. As a rule avoid cat food.

If you really want to give food designed for our feline friends, make sure it is very high quality kitten (NOT cat!!) food. We would always suggest consulting your vet before putting any ferret on kitten kibble to be sure that it is suitable.

It’s always worth having a conversation with your vet if you are looking to change you ferrets’ diet. Most will be happy to give you advice over the phone.

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