Though there are oodles of commercial food available in the market for ferrets, some ferret owners wish to prepare food for their charms on their own. Ferrets have great memory power, they try to recognize the food when they are young and adapts to it forever.
Ferrets are obligate carnivores with a digestive system that is not designed to process grains and plants. Their diet should be mostly made up of proteins from animals, some fat, and a minimal amount of carbohydrates.
One of the reasons some ferret owners are keen on making their own meals rather than buying commercial foods is to avoid their ferret from insulinomas. This is a type of cancer that may be linked to the presence of carbohydrates in a ferret’s diet.
Food for ferrets
Ferrets have a high metabolic rate, so they will eat around 8 to 10 small meals daily. And being strict carnivores, like cats, they need a high protein food source. Quality meats, which can include poultry, lamb, beef, and eggs.
Raw or cooked, although raw feeders believe cooking alters the nutritional benefits of the food. A ferret should never get any foods that contain sugar or dairy products, and no vegetables or fruit. They can also benefit from fatty acid supplements like olive and fish oil.
Ferret puree mix
- 2 pound protein of your choice like lamb, chicken, turkey, etc. Adding the organs to the food is completely your choice.
- 5 Eggs
- Fish oil / olive oil
- Container for storing
Cut up the protein into small pieces. You also have the option of using ground versions of the meat, in which case you do not need to cut it before the next step. Put the meat into the blender or food processor.
Add in the water or broth so that it comes to the top of the meat and no farther. Blend the meat in a puree setting for about 60 to 90 seconds until pureed. Crack the five eggs and add them to the meat. You must add the entire egg, including the shell.
Add about a tablespoon of the oil into the mixture. Add three teaspoons of the vitamin mix into the mixture. Mix the food again on the puree setting for one to two minutes until the meat is fully broken down.
Scoop the mix into your saucepan or oven and cook on the stove for about 30 minutes. If the meat doesn’t look completely cooked, you can cook it for an additional five to 10 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool and then scoop into your storage containers. Seal tightly and freeze.
- 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
- 6 cups of water
- One pound of chopped meat, such as beef, chicken, turkey, lamb or rabbit, use cheaper cuts of meat or even leftover trimmings from your own meals
- 1/2 pound of chopped chicken gizzards
- 2 tablespoons of eggshell powder
- 2 tablespoons of ferret vitamin supplement powder
- 1 tablespoon of olive or fish oil
- A large soup pot or Dutch oven
- Storage containers for freezing
Put the water and broth in the pot and bring to a full boil. Add in the chopped meat, gizzards, and oil and mix well with a spoon. Allow continuing boiling covered for about 20 to 30 minutes. Add eggshell powder and vitamin powder and stir well.
Continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before serving to your ferret. Add the mixture to the storage containers and freeze.
- Boil an egg
- Chop up the cooked and cooled egg into small pieces that you can give to your ferret.
- It helps to make a bunch at a time and then refrigerator or freeze the extras so you always have them handy.
- 1 whole roasting chicken with skin, fat and giblets (cut into small pieces)
- 1 tablespoon Ferretone
- 1 cup ferret kibble
- 2 tablespoons whole oats or fine bran
- 1/2 tube Nutri-Cal
- 3 eggshells
Puree the chicken, kibble, and eggshells. Pour mixture into a pot and cook on the stove for 30 minutes or until the consistency of thick gravy. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and mix well. Cool before serving.
- 1 can tuna (packed in water)
- 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
- 1/8th cup chicken broth
- a pinch of high quality bone meal
Add all ingredients into a blender. Blend to a smoothie-like consistency.
- 1/2 gallon water
- chicken, turkey or beef leftovers or trimmings (giblets, skin, cartilage too)
- 1 tablespoon chicken or beef soup stock
- ground kibble
Bring water to a boil. Cut up leftovers into small pieces and add to boiling water. Boil about 20 minutes or until meat is cooked. Add the soup stock. Thicken soup to desired consistency with ground kibble. Cool before serving.
Live prey is a controversial topic but does have some benefits that cannot be denied. Defined as the practice of giving your pet live animals to eat on an occasional basis, live prey feeding mimics the day-to-day life and survival of wild ferrets and helps add enrichment to your pet’s life.
On the downside, some prey animals can fight back and cause injury to a ferret, which can be off-putting and has caused some to believe live feeding is unsafe and unnecessary.
Either way, do what you feel is right for your pet and only use feeder mice and other animals that are ethically cared for and bred to be nutritionally safe for your pet.
Foods to avoid
Avoid foods that are high in complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, or anything containing sugar. Because ferrets are strict carnivores, their digestive tracts cannot process these types of food.
Risks of eating those foods
Insulinoma, a form of cancer in ferrets, is more common in countries where ferret diets are highly processed and high in carbohydrates when compared with countries where ferrets eat primarily raw diets.
The current belief is that high carbohydrate foods mean that their pancreas has to overproduce insulin to maintain a level of blood sugar level. Over time this constant stimulus leads to cells becoming cancerous (insulinoma).
Ferrets with insulinoma struggle to maintain their blood sugar levels and are prone to blood glucose crashes and seizures. Species of animals, an optimum diet is more likely to promote better overall health.
Ferrets that are fed unsuitable diets are also more likely to develop skin disease, bladder stones, gastroenteritis, and experience poor growth, and dental disease.
Ferret teeth are also designed for cutting and tearing meat, so large, hard biscuits and soft canned foods can also accelerate the dental disease.