About Ferrets : feeding guide

Ferrets are strict carnivores, meaning they can only digest animal products, not plant-based products.  

Ferrrets should be fed at least twice daily as it only takes three to four hours for food to pass from the mouth to the other end. Feeding only once a day will mean the ferret will spend a long day with an empty stomach.  

A supply of fresh clean water should be available at all times.  

Ferrets should be fed a combination of raw meaty chunks, raw meaty bones and a selection of whole or parts of prey such as mice, day old baby chicks, chicken necks, etc.  

It is thought that dry biscuits may cause crystals to form in the ferret's urinary tract therefore it is advisable to feed them as a supplement rather than a sole diet. Processed foods such as biscuits also contain too high a level of carbohydrates.  

It is considered by some of our members that processed biscuits of any kind do not keep a ferret's mouth clean and including them in the diet may eventually lead to periodontal disease, however this is a theory on which studies are being carried out and there are many differing opinions on this subject.  

Tinned or dry dog food should not be fed to ferrets as the protein and fat contents are far too low. Tinned or dry adult cat food is not recommended for the same reasons.  

Raw meaty bones, and chunky (not ground) raw meats will help keep the teeth clean as they require ripping and tearing to be consumed.  

Raw meaty bones & chunky meat sources can include chicken necks, wings & thighs, rabbit, quail, weaner mice, day old baby chicks, fish, lamb chops, beef, etc. and, if given on a daily basis, will go a long way towards preventing periodontal disease.  

Bones must be raw as cooked bones may splinter and lodge in the digestive tract causing serious problems. Ferrets also need a certain amount of fat in their diet, so make sure the meat you feed them is not too lean.  

It is important to remove any excess food which may rot and cause food poisoning.  

EGGS: Eggs are great for ferrets, as they contain protein and fat which help to give a nice glossy coat.  

Feeding Pregnant Jills: Pregnant jills need extra calcium and minerals in their diet. For further information please read the breeding sheet.  

Feeding Kits: Growing kits require a balanced calcium to phosphorous ratio in their diet. Meat alone is very deficient in calcium. The best way to ensure ferret kits receive enough calcium is, from about 3-4 weeks of age, to feed them a balanced diet including chunks of raw meat with a calcium supplement and/or milk supplement, until the kits are at least 12 weeks of age. It is also important to introduce ferret kits to raw meaty bones at an early age, not only for added calcium but to ensure good dental hygiene for the years to come.  

The two big differences you will notice between baby ferets and adult are that the babies eat much more and sleep much less. Provided that the right food is being offered (chicken wings, raw chunky beef, whole chicks and mice and raw eggs) it is almost impossible for them to be over-fed. In fact, kits often bite the hand that feeds them if the food bowl is empty when they feel the need to feed.

During the first few months when they are growing so quickly and learning what is good to eat, giving a variety of foods makes them less picky as they grow older. Babies should not be fed soft processed food or mince as they really need to chew their food and bones to promote good dental hygiene. Bones, as in whole small prey or chicken wings, are very important in the diet as they provide the minerals for strong bones and teeth.  

For more in depth details please call a member of our committee.