Ferrets are basically meat eaters or carnivores; therefore, the main food that you give your ferret should be meat. But can ferrets eat fruit? The answer is yes, but only occasionally.
People have kept ferrets as pets for more than 300 years and earlier ferret owners fed them only whole prey, such as chicks, rats and mice. In recent years, more and more people have started feeding their ferrets processed foods.
Perhaps this is due to a general shortage of time, but mainly it is due to the convenience it offers. Most people simply don’t have the time to get healthy ferret food.
If you want your ferrets to be healthy and live out their natural life-span, it would be advisable to spend some time in looking for healthy food for your ferrets.
Can Ferrets Eat Fruit: What Fruits Can They Have?
Ferrets can be given fruit, but only in small quantities. If you feed your ferret a banana, it will come out in the same form in its excrements. This is because their digestive system isn’t designed for processing any foods except meat. Feeding your ferrets large amounts of fruits can therefore be very harmful for your pet ferret.
Having said that, you can use fruit as an occasional treat or reward.
Fruits have high sugar content, which means that they also contain complex carbohydrates. The ferrets’ digestive system is unable to process carbohydrates and a high carbohydrate diet can possibly cause intestinal complications and even cancer in some cases.
Your ferrets will be safe from severe harm if you are able to feed them fruit in moderation. A suitable quantity would be approximately half a teaspoon a day. You may feed them berries, apples or banana. They usually love raisins which are possibly their favorite.
While selecting fruit for your ferrets, another thing you must remember is to avoid any acidic fruits as these are likely to cause stomach problems. They cause additional acidity which can make your ferrets ill with diarrhea. This in turn can result in weight loss, dehydration and even malnutrition.
The fruits you should avoid feeding your ferrets are grapefruits, grapes, lemons, oranges and limes.
The fruits that are safe to give to your ferrets are apple, melon, banana, but only in small quantities. Remember to use them only as treats.
Your ferret may have its own individual preference among fruits. It would be better to remove the skins of the fruits and cut them up into very thin slices. This is because ferrets have thin intestinal passages and thicker pieces can possibly cause a blockage.
In small amounts, fruits can provide important nutrients to your ferrets. When you use them as treats instead of commercial foods, you are saving your pet from many possibly harmful chemicals found in preservatives.
Because ferrets are by nature carnivores, their diet should include the following:
- Have high protein content, approximately 32% to 36%. Please read the nutrition facts on the label of any commercial food you consider buying.
- Ensure that the protein is animal-based, highly digestible and of good quality. Avoid plant-based protein content.
- The fat content should be a minimum of 18%.
- The fiber and carbohydrate content should be 3% or less.
When good quality commercial food is not available for ferrets, the best option is cat food. As more and more people are now choosing to have ferrets for pets, there are several alternatives available for commercial ferret food.
Ferret food has additional protein and lesser fat content. It usually costs more than usual pet food, but is definitely worth the additional expense. However, as people realize the significance of feeding their pet ferrets healthy food, there is a greater interest in natural foods that are closer to the ferrets natural diet.
Some people also choose to mix the more expensive commercial ferret food with less costly cat food to reduce the cost. This makes the pet food more suitable for ferrets.
If you are considering making a change in your ferrets’ diet, it would be best to make the change gradual. Mix both foods together, slowly increasing the proportion of the new food, while decreasing the previous one. Observe your ferrets carefully during this process to ensure that it adapts to the change comfortably.
If you have just gotten your baby ferrets, try to have them a variety of foods because they are more adaptable during this stage. Adult ferrets are often stubborn when it comes to trying new foods and this can cause issues if the brand of commercial food that they are used to is not available.
To come back to the initial question ‘can ferrets eat fruits?’ The answer is a yes.
Healthy food choices for your ferrets will make your pets happy and healthy, leading to a longer life span. They will also be at a lesser risk for illnesses which means lesser money and fewer visits to the vet!