Take a closer look at your pets’ diet in 2019: Ferrets

Ferrets are strict carnivores with a high metabolic rate who like to eat little and often and enjoy foraging for their food. Here’s how to help them get the most out of the nutrition they need...

Posted: 07 February 2019

Take a closer look at your pets’ diet in 2019: Ferrets

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The benefits of Veganuary and flexitarian diets may be the big nutrition stories of the moment, but a non-meat-based diet is something that every ferret will turn its adorable little nose up at. Ferrets are true carnivores who need a well-balanced diet containing animal protein to stay in top form.

Like cats, ferrets are ‘obligate carnivores’ – this means that they have to eat meat to stay healthy as it contains important nutrients they can’t get from other types of food.


DID YOU KNOW?

Ferrets turn food into energy very quickly and have a short gut. This means food passes through them quickly and they need to eat every few hours.


However, this is where things get a little more complicated. Feeding a meat only diet without calcium can lead to the softening of the bones. So, what’s the solution? The answer is to choose a complete ferret diet that contains a carefully balanced mix of all the protein and supplements a ferret requires to thrive.

Food should be fun

Active, curious and clever, ferrets are natural puzzle-solvers and will enjoy foraging for their food. Measure out their daily allowance of nuggets and hide some of it in tunnels, in paper bags or around their accommodation so they can have lots of fun searching for it. You could also try filling a Kong toy with some of their daily ration, so they can keep both mind and body busy figuring out how to get their paws on their tasty stash. You could also introduce some special activity toys suitable for small animals, such as treat balls or puzzle boards.


DID YOU KNOW?

Ferrets can’t digest lactose (a sugar found in dairy products such as milk and cheese) or carbohydrates (found in starchy foods such as rice, potato and bread) so it’s best to avoid food with these ingredients.


Treat time

Treats in small amounts can be provided occasionally – such as a little cooked chicken or half a boiled egg. Like any animal, ferrets can put on weight if they eat too much and don’t get enough exercise. However, be aware that ferrets tend to put on weight before winter so they have enough fat stored away to get them through the colder months. This is natural and they should lose it again in spring. If they don’t shed their winter weight, cut down on treats and make sure you weigh out all their food each day so you know they’re getting the correct amount. If you’re worried that your ferret is gaining or losing too much weight, speak to your vet, as it could be a sign of an underlying health problem.

Nutrition-packed nuggets 

Burgess Excel Ferret Nuggets is a super-premium complete food that is healthier than feeding raw meat, which can contain harmful bacteria, and stays fresher for longer. The tasty recipe has no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives and contains:

  • Good quality chicken protein and fat for obligate carnivores
  • A natural prebiotic to aid healthy digestion
  • Natural antioxidants to support the immune system
  • Added linseed and Taurine for coat condition and all-round health
  • Vitamins A, D3 & E for healthy skin, coat, teeth and bones

DID YOU KNOW?

There are a number of foods that are poisonous to ferrets, including raisins, avocado and chocolate. 


Water on tap

Fresh, clean water must always be available. Water bottles with a metal spout are ideal, but ferrets can also drink from bowls – just make sure it’s a heavy, ceramic one that they can’t tip over.


If you found this interesting, you may also like:

The merits of ferrets >>
Like a cat, most ferrets can be trained to use a litter tray. Like a dog, they’re playful and can even be taken for walks on a lead. They also like to sleep for up to 20 hours a day. Could ferrets be the perfect pets for you?

Fun toys for ferrets >>
Ferrets are highly intelligent and providing a variety of toys is a great way to keep your slinky friends busy and happy. But what toys are best for these inquisitive, mischievous little carnivores?

Bonding with your small pets >>
Hand-feeding is a great way to build a closer bond with small animals. It takes time to build trust, but when your little friend finally feels confident enough to take a treat from your hand, it’s a special moment. 

 

Sources: pfma.org.uk, pdsa.org.uk

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