What do ferrets eat?
Ferrets are carnivores and cannot handle a diet containing more than 4% fiber. A good quality ferret diet should contain 32-40% protein and 10-15% fat. There are several good commercial dry foods for ferrets. While cat food has been suggested for use in ferrets in the past, diets specifically made for ferrets are more appropriate and highly recommended. Whole meat diets are an option, but they can be messy and, if not balanced properly, can lead to nutritional imbalances.
"Ferrets are carnivores and cannot handle a diet containing more than 4% fiber."
There are diets available to meet the unique needs of growing kits, pregnant or lactating females, and geriatric ferrets. Remember that your ferret "is what he/she eats", so try to feed him/her the best food possible. Consult your veterinarian for a proper diet.
How often should I feed my ferret?
Ferrets have a rapid gut transit 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) without food and should be fed several small meals throughout the day. This is most easily accomplished by leaving food out 24 hours a day, allowing your ferret to graze as desired. Ferrets who spend excessive time eating may become obese and should be offered only limited food quantities.
"...ferrets can easily develop hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) without food and should be fed several small meals throughout the day."
Do I need to give my ferret vitamins?
Extra vitamins are unnecessary if your ferret is eating a high-quality, premium diet.
Can I offer my ferret treats?
Ferrets enjoy sweets, dairy products, raisins, fruits, and vegetables, but these foods should be avoided because they may produce diarrhea and erratic swings in blood sugar. A piece of cooked meat or some meat baby food is acceptable as an occasional treat. Supplementation with ‘Duck Soup’ is unnecessary for a healthy ferret and causes obesity in ferrets who consume it regularly. It is intended as a supplemental diet for sick ferrets needing extra calories.
"...ferrets can become overweight if fed an abundance of calorie-dense treats or foods."
Chocolate can be fatal to ferrets! 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 calorie-dense 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.