Monday, March 22, 2010

Feeding the Ferret: The Bad

     These foods are considered bad foods because they aren’t part of a ferret’s natural diet. Given in moderation they won’t kill a ferret.

     Ferrets are like small children in that everything goes into their mouths and need to be monitored about what goes into their little mouths.

     Ferrets are determined little animals and will demand what you are eating just because they see it going into your mouth.

Dairy Products:

     Ferrets are lactose intolerant meaning that any milk-based product is going to give them diarrhea. Although you can give them a baby spoon taste of what you are eating.

     By using a baby spoon accomplishes two things. It allows you to control how much a ferret is getting and it teaches them that if it is on the spoon they are allowed a taste.

     It should be noted here and will be again in the next post. Chocolate should never be given to a ferret or any other animal, as it is toxic to ALL animals.

Fruit and Vegetables:

     Ferrets lack a cecum (1) to process fruits and vegetables. They gain no nutritional value out of these items and are hard to digest. Knowing this you can allow a ferret a taste occasionally but no more than once or twice a month. There are exceptions of course.

     Raisins can be given but no more than ten a day and be sure they are being eaten and not stashed away for later.

     Baby carrots cut lengthwise and into thin strips. My boys like to chew on them until they are mushy then they are done with them.

     Celery cut into the size of baby carrots and cut the same way. Removing as much of the stringy part as you can.

     Strawberries only a small bite.

Nuts and Grains:

     Cheerios out of the box and only 10 a day. You can alternate this with raisins. Again, be sure they are actually eating them.

     Bread either can be out of the wrapper or toasted. Only a nibble now and then otherwise a ferret will try to eat your sandwich out of your hand.

     Peanut Butter no more than once a month and use the baby spoon leveled off. Peanut Butter is a good emergency laxative if you are out ferret lax.


     These treats are made for animals but not for ferrets.

     Treats for cats: These include Pounce®, Greenies for Cats® pretty much any of the hard cat treats. If the serving says, five pieces a day only give one or two to a ferret.

     There are treats on the market for ferrets and are reasonable in price but I have found that not all ferrets share the same tastes and will turn their noses up at treats designed for them.

     Have lived with eight ferrets at one time you find that they can be demanding and will keep after something until either it is out of their sight or you let them have some.

     Galahad was a prime example of this. He loved coffee and would hunt down my coffee cup so he could have a drink. After losing three keyboards to ferret spilled coffee, I bought a doll’s tea set and gave him one of the cups.

     I would fill his cup with a small amount of my coffee. This did two things it kept him off my desk an away from my coffee and it allowed him to have some. He also knew that he only got one cup a day and would bring me his cup when he was ready for it.

     I don’t recommend giving ferrets coffee but I wanted to illustrate just how persistent they can be and one of the solutions I came up with.

     The last post in this series will cover the foods you should never give a ferret and the reasons why.

     I hope you have found these first two posts informational. Any feedback, comment, links to other blogs is encouraged and welcomed.


     1. Cecum or caecum comes from the Latin caecus meaning blind. It is a pouch that connects the ileum with the ascending colon of the large intestines. Herbivores have a relatively large cecum that host bacteria that helps to break down plant materials. 

     Obligatory carnivores whose diet contains little or no plant material have a reduced cecum that is either partially or completely replaced by the vermiform appendix(2)

     2.Vermiform appendix is a blind-ended tube connected to the cecum. Vermiform comes from Latin and means worm-shaped.

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