What can ferret eat?

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Ferrets have a specific digestive system, which is rather short. They don’t have much time to digest every nutrient. Due to that, bad nutrition can develop tumors and cancer at an early age. Their natural diet is for carnivores – raw meat. That specific digestive system makes ferrets sensitive to different kinds of food, meaning you can’t feed them vegetables because they can’t digest them. Since ferrets are so special, we have to be aware of what they can eat and what they can’t. If you know what is the proper diet for your ferret, he will be a healthy and energetic little furball his whole life.

What Can Ferret Eat?

So, let’s talk about what ferret can eat and what can’t.  First, we will talk about common questions regarding ferret nutrition.

CAN FERRET EAT MEAT, ORGANS, BONES?

Yes, a ferret can and ferret must eat meat, organs, and bones, all wrapped in a balanced diet. Ferrets are obligate carnivores and they should have a balanced diet consisting of at least 3 kinds of meat, organs, and bones, all in specific amounts weekly. Ferret’s nutrition consists of raw meat, raw organs, and raw bones. You can cook meat and use it as treat, but organs and bones should be raw. Bones can break when they are cooked and that can injure your ferret.

CAN FERRET EAT DOG FOOD?

No, dog food isn’t good for ferrets, if you want to feed them with kibble, use high-quality cat food. Dog food doesn’t have taurine, which is really important to ferrets (cats need it too, that is why cat food is a better solution) Also, dog food has a low amount of fat content which is also important to ferrets (it should be around 25-30%). Dogs are around men for about 12 000 years so, through that time, dogs developed some adjustment to live with humans. A dog can eat fruit, vegetables, and meat and that is why their food has a high amount of grains, vegetables, or fruit in it which are bad for ferrets. 3 reasons to avoid dog food are: – no taurine (ferrets need), not enough fat content (ferrets need), too many vegetables, grains, fruit (ferrets shouldn’t eat)

CAN FERRET EAT CAT FOOD?

Ferrets can eat cat food, but only high quality. Cat food can also have grains and vegetables in it, which is bad for ferrets and that kind of food you should avoid. The best is food which has 3 main ingredients meat (they are written at the top of ingredients), high level of proteins (minimum 40%) and fat (25-30%). Always check ingredients first before buying cat food for your ferret. There is some cat food that is better for ferrets than ferret food (kibble).

CAN FERRET EAT EGGS?

Yes, a ferret can eat eggs. Don’t give your ferret an egg every day, but twice a week is a good amount. If you are feeding your ferret chicken eggs, give them both egg whites and egg yolks, you don’t have to separate them. Quail eggs can be used as a treat as well, you can give it to your ferret and he will eat it in seconds, just remove the top of the eggshell with a knife.

CAN FERRET EAT FRUIT?

Ferrets are obligate carnivores, meaning, they can’t process anything but meat. Ferret runs on animal protein, not fruit or vegetables. They lack organs and enzymes that can digest fibers. If you give your ferret fruit, it can be harmful to him. Wrong nutrition can lead to cancer. When I am talking about the fruit I mean apples, bananas, peaches, pears….. There are no exceptions.

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CAN FERRET EAT VEGETABLES?

Ferrets are obligate carnivores, meaning that they can’t process anything but meat. Their body is designed to run on animal protein, not fruit or vegetables. They lack organs and enzymes that can digest fibers. Herbivores have a slow digestive system due to vegetables and ferrets are the complete opposite of them. Their digestive system is too fast to process and it isn’t able to process enzymes which makes vegetables harmful for ferrets.

CAN FERRET EAT BREAD?

No, that is not recommended. Just like fruits and vegetables, ferrets can’t digest grains and fiber. That means ferrets can’t eat bread, cakes,  cookies, cereals, nothing like that. If you feed your ferret bread and milk for the long run, your ferret will be sick, have diarrhea, be malnourished and it won’t live long. Avoid fruit, vegetables, and bread, and feed your ferret only meat.

CAN FERRET EAT BACON?

Even though bacon is meat, it is not recommended to feed it to your ferret because it is processed meat. Bacon is filled with salt and sugar. Too much bacon isn’t good for humans which means a big NO-NO for ferrets. Sugar and salt aren’t something ferrets can digest easily and bacon is filled with it. They should eat meat, but raw meat, not processed meat, without adding salt and other spices.

CAN FERRET EAT CHOCOLATE?

No, ferrets can’t eat chocolate or anything sweet. Chocolate is extremely bad for them (all candy) just like for dogs and other pets. Chocolate can be poisonous to ferrets because their body doesn’t know how to process candy. If he eats an even small piece of chocolate he can get very sick.

CAN FERRET EAT COCONUT OIL?

Yes, it can, but in small amounts. Coconut oil, just like olive oil can help ferret can act as a laxative when your ferret has constipation. You can give your ferret coconut oil in a small amount, meaning less than half a spoon daily. When you are giving your ferret oil for the first time, observe it, because ferrets can have allergies or some other reaction to it. Besides the laxative effect and help with ingested fur during cleaning, coconut oil can make your ferret’s fur shinier.

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CAN FERRET EAT FISH?

Yes, ferrets can eat fish but it isn’t their natural diet. If you give your ferret fish it is possible that your ferret won’t eat it, due to smell. Since fish has a very strong smell, your ferret will also have a strong smell after eating fish. They can eat it, but it is better to feed them with meat, organs, and bones which are their natural diet.

CAN FERRET EAT HONEY?

Honey is sweet and ferrets can’t process sweets which means ferret can’t eat honey. It can be harmful to a healthy ferret but there is one exception. If your ferret has low blood sugar and has a seizure you can give him a small amount of honey on the gums which can help stop the seizure. When you give him honey immediately gives him meat (high protein) because honey is pure sugar.

CAN FERRET EAT INSECTS?

Yes, ferrets can eat insects and there are people who give insects sometimes as treats. It is normal for ferrets.

CAN FERRET EAT NOODLES?

Noodles, just like pasta, aren’t good for ferrets. Ferrets can’t eat grain, just like fruit and vegetables. Their digestive system is so unique it makes them very sensitive to other nutrients, apart from meat. Obligate carnivores mean they can’t eat anything but meat, organs, and bones. Will you give them sliced meat and organs or whole prey is at your choice, both are good.

CAN FERRET EAT OLIVE OIL?

Olive oil acts the same as coconut oil. When your ferret has problems with fur from cleaning you can give him a small amount of olive oil for better digestion. Olive oil is good for them but in a small amount. Less than half a spoon a day is more than enough.

CAN FERRET EAT PUMPKIN?

Pumpkin is almost the only vegetable that ferrets can eat and it can help them with digestion and hairballs. You can give it to your ferret from time to time but in really small amounts because there are studies that showed that too much pumpkin can help develop the adrenal disease with ferrets.

CAN FERRET EAT PORK?

Pork is meat that can be used to feed ferrets, but ferret owners are avoiding it. Pork can be infected with Trichinella so if you have a 100% good source of pork, you can use it for your ferrets. But if you don’t have, be careful. There are few ferrets that had thrown up due to pork, so you really need to be sure that pork meat is 100% healthy and of good quality.

CAN FERRET EAT SLUGS?

Slugs are edible and ferrets can eat them, but I don’t recommend it. Slugs can carry different parasites or diseases that can affect ferrets. For example, slugs can carry lungworms. The same thing is with snails. If you let your ferret outside, keeps slugs away or treat your ferret for parasites to make sure they are safe.

Ferret’s diet is actually very simple. It contains only meat, organs, and bones. Everything else can harm your ferret or make it sick. No fruit, no vegetables, no grain, no sweets. Like I’ve mentioned a few times in this article, they are obligate carnivores who can only eat meat. There are high-quality cat foods that are a good substitution for meat, but the best solution is meat, organs, and bones, all in one balanced diet.

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Anja Delic
Anja is a Friendly Ferret owner and a ferret parent who is involved in the ferret world for more than 10 years. She started her Friendly Ferret blog when she got her first ferret Frida 8 years ago. In 2013, Friendly Ferret was recognized as a great source of information and it has become a good ferret brand for education, products, and fun. Since then, Anja was a part in many ferrets shows as a sponsor and as a judge, and she met many great and interesting people who share the same passion as her - ferrets. Anja is always opened for suggestions and advice, so if you have something to ask or say about ferrets, feel free to contact her on Instagram, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter or support@friendlyferret.com