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A healthy diet for ferrets

Diet logo © RSPCA publications and brand 2010


Ensure your ferret has a healthy diet

 

Ferret eating a complete and commercially available food © Fotolia

Ferrets need:

  • Constant access to clean drinking water - without water to drink a ferret will become seriously ill.
    - Check the water supply twice a day. Make sure it doesn’t freeze if your ferret is outdoors in winter.
     
  • A balanced diet suitable for their age, health status, level of activity and reproduction status.
    - Ferrets are strict carnivores – they need a well-balanced, meat based diet to stay fit and healthy. Ferrets cannot be vegetarians.
    - Consult with your vet or another ferret expert about a complete, commercially available diet for your ferret.
    - It’s thought that ferrets can’t digest large amounts of fibre or complex carbohydrates (starches), e.g. bread and cereals. It is therefore advised not to feed these to your ferret. 
     
  • Feeding throughout the day. Ferrets have high metabolic rates, so they need to eat little and often. Ad lib feeding or feeding little and often is better than only feeding once or twice daily. Food should be available at all times.
     
  • Food offered in several ways to stimulate foraging behaviour and make them work for their food or treat, e.g. by hiding food or by using food toys.
     
  • Their body condition assessing regularly to check that they’re eating enough, especially when housed in a group. 
    - 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. 
    - Read and follow the feeding instructions relating to any ferret foods that you buy.
    - Only give your ferret treats in small amounts. Suitable ferret treats include pieces of meat and cat or ferret treats. 
    - If ferrets eat more food than they need, they will become overweight and may suffer.
     
  • Any changes to their diet to be made gradually. Sudden changes to your ferret’s diet may upset his/her digestive system. 
     
  • You to talk to your vet if their eating and drinking habits change, as they could be ill.