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Introduction to Ferret Nutrition

A ferret’s natural diet (determined by looking at their cousin, the European polecat, from which the domestic ferret is genetically nearly indistinguishable) consists of rats, mice, frogs, snakes, fish, and other small animals. Nowhere on that list will you find corn, wheat, rice, soy, or any grain which is the bulk of many commercial ferret foods. Ferrets are obligate carnivores aka strict carnivore. That is, they are biologically adapted to eat only meat. Their bodies are not biologically designed to absorb and be able to use the nutrients in plant fiber.

Feeding your ferret a high quality food is one of the most important things you can do for their health.

Ferrets will eat things other than meat, but that doesn’t mean it is good for them. Many experts believe excess carbohydrates in their diet is the most likely reason that we see such a high incidence of insulinoma in ferrets. There is a growing belief that a relationship exists between poor diet and other common health problems as well.

Feeding your ferret a high quality food is one of the most important things you can do for their health. All pets benefit from improved diet, but ferrets, in particular, suffer heavily when their food is poor quality.

Ferret Food Options

Some ferret owners feed live or frozen whole prey such as day-old chicks and baby mice. They believe it is best for their pet to provide a diet which resembles as closely as possible the food eaten by their wild ancestors. If you have the stomach for this (many don’t) you’ll find this type food available from companies who market these products as reptile food.

If you prefer to feed dry kibble, choosing a high quality ferret food is important. The food you choose should contain a minimum of 34% protein and 20% fat.

Compare ferret foods for quality.

Compare the many different ferret foods available on the market.

The Food Comparison Chart compares the many ferret and cat foods available on the market to determine which foods are best fed to ferrets.

Dry kibble food for ferrets should be mostly protein and fat, and VERY low carb. No corn, to which ferrets are frequently allergic, and no sugar. Most cat foods do not meet these requirements, the exception being a very few high-quality kitten foods. An excellent resource for help in choosing an appropriate food is the MDFerretPaws Food Comparison Chart. Although it hasn’t been updated in several years it will still give you a good idea of what to look for in comparing foods.