Suppose you are considering having a ferret as a pet, or you already have a ferret. In that case, you need to know the necessary diet for your ferret’s health and growth.
Ferrets are carnivorous animals and, as such, should be fed food rich in protein and fats. Meat is the best source of their diet as it replicates their natural diet in the wild. But, can ferrets eat vegetables?
No, ferrets do not have cecum and cannot digest complex carbohydrates, fibers, sugars, and dairy-based products. They need food rich in protein and fat for healthy living. Meat, for example, is a good source of food.
Ferret diets should consist of 32-38% of protein and 15-20% of fat.
This article acts as a guide for why you should not choose vegetables as a meal source for ferrets.
Before getting meals for your ferrets, you should always try to provide a feed that fits their body systems. Ferrets feed should replicate what they eat in the wild because of the way their body system is built.
The presence of cecum in the large intestine produces bacteria or microorganisms that help break down complex food. Unfortunately, ferrets do not have that gland and cannot break down complex carbohydrates or proteins present in vegetables and fruits.
Also, carbohydrate-rich food is not beneficial to their health. Every single ounce of carbohydrate produced can cause a whole lot of health complications for your ferret.
High amounts of carbohydrates in their diet can lead to the body having excessive glucose in the bloodstream, leading to beta-cell cancer in the pancreas. Vegetable proteins also cannot be digested by ferrets.
And feeding your ferret vegetables might result in your ferret having bladder stones, reproductive complications, skin ulcers, and many more.
What should my ferret eat instead?
Ferrets are carnivores. Raw meat is the best source of protein for ferrets. This can be easily digested.
Yet, ferrets can also eat kitten food, baby food, and dried ferret food, which are high in protein. However, avoid rabbit food.
Beef, chicken, lamb, lamb’s heart, turkey head, rabbits, or pigeons are best recommended to feed your ferrets. It is also necessary to provide ferrets with raw animal bones for calcium and for cleaning their teeth.
When considering feeding your ferrets with rodents such as mice and rats, consider not feeding your ferret with random mice from the environment. Many wild mice contain parasites. It would be best to get your rodents from a reputable shop.
Giving ferrets vegetables can cause a lot of complications. A few of the complications include urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and intestinal problems.
It is no longer news that the major cause of urinary tract stones in ferrets is vegetable protein accumulation.
They contain calcium oxalate and are very poor in quality and can cause many health complications in ferrets and other animals like cats and dogs. Bladder stones can be dangerous and result in death if left untreated.
Also, ferrets do not have molars like other animals for grinding vegetables. So, any vegetables you give them might either block their airways, which could choke them, or obstruct their intestines, which may require an operation.
The pancreas is not designed to hold vegetable or fruit nutrients. Any incorrect food that passes through the pancreas could lead to a severe indigestion problem, known as gastroenteritis.
This can lead to intestinal cancer, as well.
As much as feeding ferrets vegetables is not advised, there is one instance where ferret owners sometimes feed their pets veggies.
Unlike other animals, ferrets cannot produce vitamin C, which is a supplement for boosting the immune system. However, to alternate that, ferret owners find a way of introducing vitamin C to their diet.
This is done by boiling and meshing some vegetables and fruits such as unseeded peppers, carrots, squash, cauliflower, tomato mushrooms, potatoes, salsa, and broccoli. This way, ferrets can easily be treated when ferrets are suffering from scurvy caused by a lack of vitamin C.
Ferrets are carnivorous, and it is not advisable to turn them into herbivores or omnivores. You would need to stick to what they eat in the wild to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Meat or meat supplements are the best sources for ferrets’ feed, and non-meat supplements should only be used in extreme conditions to boost their immune systems.
Awareness is always the solution to everything. Sometimes your kids might throw in some vegetables or fruits; the innocent ferret would eat without knowing the consequence. Well, as a ferret owner, watch closely their poo and behavior.
Once you see a seedy poop, that is a sign that your ferret has taken in an unaccepted substance to the body system. React fast or call a vet to ascertain how much damage it has caused.
Once your ferret begins to decline food, know that something is wrong with its digestive system due to either eating vegetables or fruits. Treat it fast before it becomes worse.
Can ferrets eat lettuce?
Ferrets’ digestive systems are not built to digest vegetables. They are pure carnivores and, as such, should be treated with only meat-based food.
Can ferrets eat cucumbers?
Some owners may feed their ferrets cucumbers because of their health benefits. However, the American Ferret Association advises against feeding your ferret with cucumber or any fruit or vegetables as they can be harmful to her health.
How often should I feed my ferret vegetables?
Vegetables should be given to ferrets occasionally. Vegetables contain unnecessary proteins that are not good for their digestive system.
However, it is not recommended, but you would need to closely monitor your ferret for any change in lifestyle if you do. It would be best if you stick to their meat-based diet for a healthy lifestyle.
Can ferrets eat vegetable oil?
Yes, you can give your ferret vegetable oils occasionally. Some people mix it up with olive oil with a 50/50 intake.
Others prefer ½ teaspoon daily and ¾-1 if they are shedding. Try as much as possible not to make it too often as this may be too bad for them.
Can I mix vegetables or fruits with meat for my ferret?
Yes, but do that once a week with a little serving. You can give your ferret boiled potatoes and mash them with meat.
You only need to mash it well so that the digestive system can process it. However, keep note that this food is not healthy for your ferret and is not recommended to be given.
It is beneficial to give ferrets the best meal to aid in their health and general well-being. Also, put into consideration the amount and the type of food in terms of nutrients you give to your pets.
Vegetables are not to be given to your ferret.
You could give them some boiled vegetables or fruits in some extreme conditions to boost their immune system. But, it would be best if you focus on meat-based food as it replicates what they eat in the wild.
It keeps them healthy and provides a good source of protein perfect for their digestive system.
However, if you are unsure of what to feed your ferrets, you can consult your vet. If your ferret falls sick or behaves unwell, call your vet.