A healthy diet for ferrets
Make sure your ferret has a healthy diet
Things you should do
- Provide fresh clean drinking water at all times. Check your ferret’s water supply twice a day. Make sure the water doesn’t freeze if your ferret is outdoors in winter.
- Make sure your ferret eats a balanced diet suitable for his/her age, health status, level of activity and reproduction status.
- Consult with your veterinarian or another ferret expert about a complete, commercially available diet for your ferret.
- It is thought that ferrets cannot digest large amounts of fibre or starches. For example, this includes bread and cereals. It is therefore advised not to feed these to your ferret.
- Only give your ferret treats in small amounts. Suitable ferret treats include pieces of meat and cat or ferret treats.
- Feed your ferret throughout the day. Ad lib feeding or feeding him/her little and often is better than only feeding once or twice daily.
- Offer your ferret food in several ways to stimulate foraging behaviour and make him/her work for their food or treat, for example by hiding food or by using commercially available food toys.
- Read and follow the feeding instructions relating to any ferret foods that you buy.
- Assess your ferret’s body condition regularly to establish if food intake is sufficient, especially when housed in a group.
- Sudden changes to your ferret’s diet may upset his/her digestive system. Any diet changes should be made gradually.
- If your ferret’s eating and drinking habits change, talk to your vet, as your ferret could be ill.
- Without water to drink a ferret will become seriously ill.
- Ferrets are strict carnivores – they need a well-balanced, meat based diet to stay fit and healthy. Ferrets cannot be vegetarians.
- Ferrets have high metabolic rates, so they need to eat little and often. Food should be available at all times.
- How much a ferret needs to eat depends on his/her age, bodyweight, level of activity, reproductive status, health status and the type of food given.
- It is thought that ferrets cannot easily digest large amounts of fibre or complex carbohydrates (starches). For example, this includes bread, cereals, etc.
- If ferrets eat more food than they need, they will become overweight and may suffer.
- Experts are still learning about ferrets' daily dietary requirements.