Last Updated on January 23, 2021
Ferrets are a cute and playful alternative to traditional house pets. Bred from European polecats, these quirky little animals were originally used to hunt rabbits. Today, ferrets are mostly kept as pets. But they do have some specialized needs that need extra attention.
Are you a new ferret owner, possibly confused about what to feed your new pet? The good news is that commercial ferret foods are now available to address their specific dietary needs. There are still several brands available, so let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.
What are the Dietary Requirements for Ferrets?
Ferrets have a very high metabolism and a short digestive tract so they will require frequent, small meals. Most ferrets will eat 8-10 small meals of commercial pellet food on a given day. Due to the frequency of their feedings, it is best to keep a supply of food available at all times.
Look for foods that are high in protein and fat:
- 30-40% protein content
- Animal-based proteins
- 20-30% fat content
- Low carbohydrate content
- Less than 3% fiber
Ferrets are predatory carnivores. Their diet should be high in animal-based proteins with no plant-based materials. In fact, some fruits like grapes (and raisins) are actually toxic to these furry little guys.
Here are our top 10 picks for the BEST FERRET FOODS:
1. Wysong Archetype Ferret Food
Wysong Archetype is a raw meat food product that is freeze-dried to maintain freshness. It is a meat product that most closely resembles the ideal ferret diet and it is provided by the industry leader in quality ferret foods.
2. Zupreem Premium Ferret Diet
Zupreem premium ferret food is a completely balanced formula that requires absolutely no supplements. 40% crude protein, 20% fat, and 3% fiber is perfectly aligned with suggested dietary guidelines. Plus, this highly digestible formula is made with real chicken and egg protein
3. Higgins InTune, Grain-free Ferret Diet
Higgins In Tune is a balanced diet ferret food with 40% protein and 20% fat, matching dietary guidelines. Protein comes from quality sources like easily digestible poultry, including turkey and chicken. And, Alaskan-caught Pollak processed right in the boat to preserve nutrients
4. Wysong Epigen 90 Ferret Food
With 90% meat-based ingredients, Wysong Epigen 90 most closely resembles a ferret’s natural diet. What’s in the other 10%? Not starch, which is often used as fillers for pellet foods. The manufacturer prides itself on eliminating this digestible carbohydrate.
5. Kaytee Premium Ferret Food
Kaytee Premium Ferret food checks all of the right boxes with 42% crude protein and 20% crude fat. This formula is available in two flavors – turkey or chicken to provide tasty variety to your furry little ferrets. Both are highly digestible poultry proteins.
6. Marshall Premium Ferret Food
Marshall premium ferret food is a good choice for all life stages. It is made with highly digestible poultry proteins and special attention is paid during processing to ensure nutrient-values are not compromised.
7. Mazuri Complete Ferret Food
Mazuri complete ferret food is an all life stages formula with high animal-based proteins and low starches – appropriate for a carnivorous diet. It is highly palatable and easily digestible, which is backed up by dozens of consumer reviews from happy ferret owners.
8. Sheppard and Greene Adult Ferret Food
Sheppard and Greene is an adult ferret food with all of the right proportions on protein, fat, and fiber content. It boasts a few benefits, including a healthier immune system, less shedding, and more solid fecal matter. Many ferret owners will combine this food with other brands to combat diarrhea.
9. Wild Harvest Advanced Nutrition Ferret Food
Wild Harvest is a budget-friendly ferret food that still offers a balanced, high-protein diet supplemented with taurine. Consumer reviews indicate that many ferret owners find it to be well-received with their furry friends, suggesting a good taste.
10. Solid Gold Indigo Moon
Before ferret foods were commercially available many owners fed cat food. Most high-quality cat food formulas meet all of the same requirements of a carnivorous diet and work well as an appropriate ferret food.
There are a number of commercial options available for processed kibble ferret foods. Unfortunately, none of them will fit the bill of the perfect ferret diet’ as all contain minimal amounts of plant-based materials like cornmeal, peas, potato starches, and the like.
The best diet for a ferret is a 100% raw meat diet, but that is expensive and inconvenient. Kibble is much easier to free-feed in order to accommodate a ferret’s need for 8-10 meals per day. All of the products on this list are suitable in moderation. Many ferret owners who feed commercial kibble will rotate or combine multiple products which may lessen the impact of one formula.
Focus on providing a balanced diet and minimizing the amount of filler ingredients by choosing a quality ferret food.
Ferret Diet FAQ
If you’re planning on owning a pet, but don’t want to go for a generally large-sized one, why not consider a pet ferret, they’re fuzzy and cuddly and make excellent household companions. Ferrets are vicious carnivores, so if you were planning on making your pet ferret vegetarian, you’re going to have a tough time. So what exactly do ferrets eat? here are a bunch of frequently asked questions about pet ferrets and what they eat:
Q: Do ferrets eat cats?
A: Ferrets do not naturally eat cats, it’s completely safe to have both in the same household as long as they are properly trained to coexist with each other, you can do this by slowly and gradually introducing both pets to each other, while properly supervising them both of course in case of any mishaps, ferrets can be fed cat food but it is advised not to feed them fish-flavored cat food as that may cause odor problems.
Q: Do ferrets eat mice?
A: Absolutely, ferrets can be fed mice, it has essentially been part of their food chain for thousands of years, however, it is ill-advised to feed them too many mice, as that can make them ill. The mice need to be free of germs or bacteria and fresh for your ferret to eat them.
Q: Do ferrets eat rabbits?
A: Like mice, rabbits have been hunted using ferrets in the past as well, hence if you already own a rabbit, buying a pet ferret and keeping them both in the household will not yield a pretty result, so yes, ferrets do eat rabbits and other rodents.
Q: Do ferrets eat snakes?
A: Ferrets, like weasels, will attack and kill snakes in the wild, however, their diet does not usually consist of eating them as they prefer rodents and small birds, in the end, it really depends on what your pet ferret prefers.
Q: Do ferrets eat prairie dogs?
A: In the wild, prairie dogs make up most of the ferrets’ diet, they eat about 100 in a year, so it’s safe to say that pet ferrets love eating prairie dogs.
Q: What do ferrets eat in general?
A: Like we’ve already mentioned before, ferrets are strict carnivores, which means they’re obligated to eat almost anything containing meat in general.
Q: What do ferrets eat in the wild?
A: Prairie dogs make up about 90% of their diet in the wild, they also eat rabbits, rats, and small-sized birds.
Q: Can ferrets eat fruit?
A: You should never, ever feed your pet ferret fruits or vegetables, they are strict carnivores that only eat meat, feeding your ferret fruit could really give them digestion problems in the form of intestinal blockages, and you wouldn’t want that happening to the poor thing, so it’s best to stay away from fruits and vegetables.
Q: Can ferrets eat dog food?
A: No, feeding your pet ferret dog food is not recommended, ferrets need a high dosage of protein in their diet and dog food doesn’t really contain that much, dog food also consists of fiber and vegetable protein, which cannot be digested by ferrets.
Q: Can ferrets eat eggs?
A: Ferrets absolutely love raw eggs as they’re full of essential proteins, make sure the egg is fresh and new before feeding it to your ferret though or it’ll get sick.
Q: Can ferrets eat peanut butter?
A: It is not recommended to feed your ferret sugar-containing food products, so peanut butter is a no in this case unless you plan on giving your ferret bitter medication, then small amounts of peanut butter (of the NON-chunky type) may be given sparingly.
Q: Can ferrets eat fish?
A: Ferrets can eat fish, although it’s not part of their natural diet, it depends on the preference of your pet ferret but they usually go for meats instead of fish.
Q: Can ferrets eat chocolate?
A: NEVER feed your pet ferret chocolate, it is considered toxic for them and will make them ill, this is because they cannot digest it, so refrain from the chocolate goodness.
Q: Can ferrets eat apples?
A: Like we’ve said before, it is not recommended that you ever feed your pet ferrets fruit of any kind, they cannot digest the fiber and that includes apples.
Q: Can ferrets eat grapes?
A: Grapes also contain fiber as they’re classified as fruits, so you should not feed them to your ferrets.
Q: Can ferrets eat ham?
A: It should normally be fine to feed your ferret ham as it’s a meat and full of protein, but only sparingly, as most ham present in the human household is processed and has extra ingredients added to it, which isn’t good news for the ferret since they’re used to eating raw meat in the wild, however, small amounts of ham occasionally should be perfectly fine as a treat.
Q: Can ferrets eat human food?
A: As long as the food doesn’t involve fruits, vegetables or grain and is mostly raw or unprocessed meat, it should be fine to feed your ferret human food that doesn’t contradict with the above list.
Q: Can ferrets eat cat food?
A: Knowing that ferrets can eat cat food, you must keep in mind that not all of them are consumable for them.
Cat food is plan B if you don’t get ferret feed in pet stores, because eating a homemade diet isn’t recommended because it’s impossible to control the percentage of fat and nutrients that foods contain.
If you have to choose some type of food for your ferret, it would be kitty food, it’s the best alternative without a doubt. It should be preferably dry, and if possible, contain Taurine.
Kitty food should be supplemented with fatty acid and vitamin supplements. Cat feed doesn’t contain enough fat. Beware of the feed that is chosen, ferrets don’t need grains such as rice or corn as the main ingredient, and if they’re present in the food, they must be found as a fourth or fifth ingredient.
Q: Can ferrets eat wet cat food?
A: They can eat it, but it isn’t recommended that they consume it, or at least not in quantity, since the moisture of the food favors the formation of tartar on the ferret’s teeth.
Not only that, in the nutritive part, wet food doesn’t allow to obtain the appropriate level of calories, so in theory, a ferret should eat this food in large quantities to reach the necessary levels. Another disadvantage is wet foods are damaged much faster than dry foods, giving a point in favor of the latter.
Q: Can ferrets eat cat treats?
A: Just as there are feed for ferrets, there are special treats for them. Whenever you want to reward your pet, ferret treats are the best if you don’t want to worry about the ingredients it contains.
In the same way as it happens with the feed for ferrets that aren’t obtained in pet stores, it happens with treats. Can your ferret eat cat treats? The answer is yes, but in a few quantities.
Treats shouldn’t replace meals during the day. Rewarding your ferret at most once or twice with a treat will be enough to keep it happy and vary its meals.
It’s very important to review the list of ingredients in cat treats, most of them are made from fruits, vegetables, sugar and grains such as rice and corn. Try to give a treat that meets the nutritional parameters we have explained above.
If you don’t feel very comfortable with giving him treats for cats, you can feed him small pieces of raw meat in good condition, cooked egg yolk or whole prey, such as mice and rats, which can be found in scarce pet stores (food of reptiles).
Taking care of a pet ferret is no walk in the park, it needs to be under constant supervision and fed only the right stuff if you’re sure you can “meat” all its needs then a ferret would make an excellent furry pet and companion.
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