If you have just gotten a ferret, or are thinking of getting a ferret, it’s a really good idea to do a little research into the best nutritional diet for your new little pal. PetMD is here to help you on your way.
Nourishing Your Ferret
To begin, ferrets have a high metabolic rate, so they will eat around 8 to 10 small meals daily. And being strict carnivores, they need a high protein food source. Food pellets are an excellent source of protein for ferrets, which can be found at your veterinarian's office or the local pet store.
You will need to read the ingredient list on the packet to make sure that the pellets are made of the most nutritious ingredients. As lists go, the ingredients are listed in order from highest to lowest quantity. As such, chicken or lamb should always be the first ingredient listed for a good ferret food. Additionally, avoid foods that include grain or corn.
If you are not able to find a prepackaged ferret food in your area, don’t panic. Kitten food works as well (again, check the ingredients list), as long as you give your ferret fatty acid supplements, which are available from a pet store.
Homemade food is another way to feed your ferret. You can feed your ferret cooked or raw chicken along with the pellets. Chicken baby food is acceptable as a supplement to the pellet diet, too. Remember that the dry food is an important staple, as it helps to keep their teeth clean.
Variety is the Key
Like cats, ferrets can be fussy creatures, preferring only one type of food, so it's a good idea to vary it up (just in case a brand either changes its ingredient makeup or goes out of business). If you do have a fussy ferret, you might try slowly mixing small amounts of the new food in with the old, until you transition over completely to the new food. This may take about two weeks.
If you choose to feed your ferret pellets, choose the shape of the pellets carefully. Triangles or anything with sharp corners can jab the roof of your ferret’s mouth, so smooth, small chunks and oval shapes are the best.
Watch Out For the Hairballs
Ferrets also get hairballs from self-grooming, but they don’t regurgitate them like cats do. To combat the problem, manufacturers have designed treats to prevent hairballs from developing. Supplement these treats into your ferret's diet and weekly routine.
If your ferret does have hairballs that have become lodged, you may need to take it in to a veterinarian to have it surgically removed. The ability to prevent any hairball-related complications far outweigh the costs of this cure.
Smart (and Healthy) Treats
Speaking of treats, ferrets love them! Good treats for ferrets include fruits, green veggies, cooked egg, cat treats, and bits of chicken, turkey or lamb. Meanwhile, you should avoid giving your ferret any grains, ice cream, or chocolate.
This is just the beginning of getting to know your furry new friend. Now that you know what to feed your ferret, when to feed it, and what not to feed it, you can start having some fun bonding.