Ferrets are obligate carnivores and require a high meat content diet. Options for feeding are a good kibble, 100% raw or a mix of both kibble and raw. Ferrets have a high metabolic rate and as such should be able to access food every 3 to 4 hours. With dry food, allow ferrets constant free access. To give new owners a range of options, here at the rescue all of our ferrets are offered a variety of raw meat each evening alongside a freely available mix of dry ferret foods.
Raw feeding: A fully balanced raw diet should include approximately 80% meat, 20% bone and 20% offal. This is the best diet you can offer but we understand that this is not for everyone. Some of our volunteers feed a balanced entirely raw meat diet and we know most of our ferrets would be very happy with that option. With raw meat, rabbit, quail, pheasant and pigeon are very popular alongside the more standard chicken. Other meats can be offered but are less natural to ferrets. Offal such as heart and kidneys should be offered each week. Day old chicks are also offered as a treat now and again. Some owners include fish in their ferrets diet.
Kibble: When feeding kibble offer a freely available mix of dry ferret foods such as Dr John Merlin, Vitalin and James Wellbeloved. We always recommend feeding a mix of at least two brands of quality dry food in case you have difficulty sourcing one of them as ferrets can get fussy when changing food. When choosing kibble look for high protein levels.
Acceptable treats: Freeze dried meat is fine to feed as a treat. A raw beaten egg can be given once a week. We often have ferret oil, a mix of oils such as salmon oil, available to purchase. Salmon oil is ideal as bribery for nail clipping.
Unacceptable food and treats: Ferrets cannot be fed a vegetarian or vegan diet; they are obligate carnivores. With the exception of a small number of very high quality dry cat foods, cat and dog food is not an appropriate diet for ferrets and can lead to a number of health problems later in life. The old habit of feeding bread and milk is not suitable. Treats sold in pet shops marketed to ferrets are generally not suitable for ferrets. Avoid any treats high in sugar or grains such as Ferretone and malt paste.
Water: Ferrets need access to plenty of fresh drinking water in large ‘spill proof’ bowls. Water bottles can be provided as a backup option but they do not allow ferrets to drink sufficiently.