Welcome to our ultimate food list for ferrets, in this post we will be going over as many different food types and food recommendations as possible. Our goal is to enrich the diet of your pet ferret as well as share some foods that are commonly offered to pet ferrets that may actually be harmful to them!
All ferrets are obligate carnivores by nature, this means that their survival depends heavily on the nutrients that are only found in meat. Additionally, ferrets have evolved to have a very short intestinal tract. This means that they are very inefficient at absorbing nutrients from the food they are offered.
An Ideal Diet
An ideal macronutrient breakdown for a ferrets diet would be around:-
- At least 30 percent protein.
- At least 15 percent fat.
- No more than 5 percent fiber.
It is important that the protein sources are animal-based and not cheap vegetable or dairy substitutes. Our post on why ferrets need fat may also help you understand its importance in their diet.
There is a very high chance that your pet ferret will attempt to hide some of its food somewhere for later consumption. Be aware that most foods you should be feeding your ferret will go bad quickly.
If you only feed your ferret in its enclosure we recommend a deep clean to remove stored foods every three days. If you feed your ferret while it is roaming loose in your house, expect to find moldy food in random locations as time goes on.
If you choose to feed your ferret meat off the bone be aware that it is natural for them to consume the some of the bone. This helps increase the nutrient profile in their diet as well as give their jaw a good workout.
Stapel Food Mix
Due to cost, ease of use, shelflife, and availability, many ferret owners will choose a high-quality dry ferret based food as the staple food source for their ferrets. We have selected some of the market leaders to share below with our advice on why we feel it is a worthy ferret food.
If you do choose to go with a brand that is not included in this list, try to ensure if falls within the macronutrient profile above, uses real meat protein sources, and is grain-free!
If you do choose to switch your ferret over to one of the recommended food types then our article on getting your ferret to eat new foods may be helpful.
Marshall Premium Ferret Diet
When it comes to dry ferret foods we always recommend Marshall Premium Ferret food. It is one of, if not the most popular dry ferret food sold worldwide with an excellent reputation among ferret owners.
It has been specifically designed to support a healthy lifestyle for ferrets of all ages when offered as their main food source. It provides a complete nutritional profile and contains plenty of healthy omega three and six fatty acids.
If you are new to owning ferrets or new to feeding them dry food then it’s helpful, easy to understand feeding guide on the back of the packaging will help you understand how much food mix to offer your ferrets. This food is 38% protein, 18% fat, and 3.5% fiber falling into the guideline macronutrient breakdown for a ferret to have a healthy lifestyle on this food. You can click here to read independent reviews of this ferret food from ferret owners.
Wysong Ferret Epigen 90
Our second best choice for high-quality dry ferret food is the Wysong Ferret Epigen 90 mix. Another very popular dry food mix with ferret owners that has established itself as one of the market leaders.
Its macronutrient breakdown is as follows:-
- 60 percent protein.
- 16 percent fat.
- 5 percent fiber.
This food mix has been designed to support a healthy digestive system in your ferret. It contains a bunch of both pro and prebiotics, essential enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Click here to read independent reviews of this food mix from ferret owners.
Although many people choose to feed their ferrets cat food, the macronutrient profile is usually not ideal to support a healthy lifestyle for a ferret. That said, due to kittens having a higher protein requirement than adult cats, you can offer your ferret a number of food mixes designed for kittens.
Our recommended kitten food for ferrets is Nature’s Variety Instinct Kitten Mix. Although designed for kittens, its macronutrient profile is perfect for ferrets and is follows:-
- 43.5 percent protein.
- 20.5 percent fat.
- 3 percent fiber.
In addition to this, over 80% of the content of the food comes from real animal ingredients. You can click here to read independent reviews of this food from kitten owners or click here to read independent reviews from ferret owners.
Our post on the best kitten food for ferrets goes into much more detail as well as shares other suitable kitten based products that you can feed your ferret.
Ideal Meats To Feed Your Pet Ferret
Meat is the ideal food for your ferret, it has an excellent nutritional profile for them and can be offered either raw or cooked. Ideally, meat will make up the majority of your ferret’s diet even if it is the meat content in a dry food covered above. This is due to meat usually having an ideal macronutrient breakdown for a healthy lifestyle in your ferret.
When it comes to meat-based products, you can go out and source your own by hunting. Just keep in mind that these animals may contain parasites or contaminations from things such as crop dusting. That said, the majority of the time, feeding your ferret self-sources meat should be fine.
High-quality turkey necks can make the perfect treat for your pet ferret. They are a tough real meat based treat they can keep your ferret occupied while it enjoys its snack.
Although they can be somewhat difficult to find in stores and can be seasonal, your local butcher or various online stores will be able to provide you with them. Although breakdowns can change source to source, our recommended turkey necks linked below contain:-
- 54.5 percent protein.
- 16.9 percent fat.
- 0.9 percent fiber.
Many people who own working ferrets will use them for rabbit hunting. This can provide a free and excellent source of food for your ferret. I know some people who own farms that will use rabbit as the primary food source for their working ferrets rather than a dry food. Unfortunately, this is out of the range of possibilities for most of us.
If you want to give rabbit a try as a food source for your ferret then you can order it online from here. The nutritional value of rabbit changed slightly depending on the part of the rabbit being consumed but here is an average breakdown for a full rabbit.
- 33 percent protein.
- 4 percent fat, up to 20 percent in the hind legs.
- Zero fiber.
Although pheasant can be expensive if purchased from an online vendor, it is a common game bird that hunters may choose to treat their ferrets with. That said, if a hunter is successful on a pheasant hunt they will usually keep the meat for themselves or sell it.
Due to a lack of fat and a slightly low amount of protein in the bird, it is usually best to only offer small amounts of pheasant as a treat. The nutrient profile of pheasant meat can change slightly depending on the type of food source the pheasant has been eating but it is usually similar to this:-
- 24 percent protein.
- 3 percent fat.
- Zero fiber.
The marketing of minced meat can be a little confusing. The fat content on the front of the packaging relates to fat content by weight rather than calorie based fat content.
For example, a pack of regular minced beef may say it is twenty percent fat. This means that twenty percent of the weight of the product is made up of fat. For example, 20 grams out of a 100-gram pack is fat.
It does not mean that twenty percent of the calories are fat. A single gram of fat contains nine calories where as a single gram of protein contains four. This means that this same 100 grams of twenty percent fat minced beef could contain around 66 percent nutritional fat. Always check the back of the packaging for the nutritional breakdown. This is the usual fat percentage of minced meat by weight:-
- Extra lean containing five percent fat.
- Lean containing between ten and fifteen percent fat.
- Regular containing around twenty percent fat.
High-quality fatty cuts of lamb is another popular meat that is used as a treat for ferrets. Depending on the cut, the fat content can range from around 15 percent up to 25 percent. Protein content can also fluctuate from around 25 percent up to around 30 percent.
Due to this, we recommend that you only use lamb as a treat or food supplement in addition to a high-quality dry ferret food. Doing this allows your ferret to have a nice treat while also getting a balanced and recommended nutritional profile from its main dry food.
Depending on the season and your location, lamb can be a relatively expensive food source putting many pet owners off for using it as pet food.
This is due to them having a larger fat content than the breast. Keep in mind though, even the wings and thighs of chicken do not fit the ideal macronutrient breakdown for a ferrets diet.
Ideal Treats For Your Ferret
Although some of the above meat-based products are best used as treats, provided you are using a high-quality dry food designed for ferrets as its staple food source, they can be used daily. The below set of treats are only recommended for use only once per week unless otherwise stated.
Some ferret owners don’t like the idea of feeding their ferret raw food but this replicates their natural diet perfectly. Always make sure you purchase high-quality meat and source any rodent treats from reputable retailers. Similar to using meat, if you catch the rodents yourself they may contain parasites or diseases.
Although low in fat, Stewart Pro-Treat Chicken Treats have proven very popular with ferret owners. Although they are low in fat, they can be used as a part of a healthy diet on a daily basis as a treat.
If you also own cats or dogs they can also be used as a delicious treat for those pets removing the need to purchase additional products.
Eggs are another food type that is commonly offered to ferrets as a treat. Some people will often use eggs as a part of their ferrets daily diet. This is not recommended, Offer your ferret an egg as a treat once a week at most! Any more and your ferret could begin to suffer from digestive issues.
Many people choose not to risk ordering eggs online but you can actually save money and get fresher eggs by ordering directly from the supplier. Click here to read independent reviews from people who use our recommended online egg vendor.
Most people will boil their eggs before offering them to their pet ferret but you can feed your ferret a raw egg if you choose Just be sure that the egg is still good using the quick and easy test in the video below.
Mice are another relatively common food people will treat their ferrets with. I know a few people who own working ferrets for farms who love to eat the mice they help flush out.
Breeding mice as a cheap treat for your ferret is becoming an increasingly popular way to essentially farm food for your pet.
Day Old Chicks
Day old chicks are a popular food for pets such as birds of prey, snakes, cats and a few other common pets.
They also make the perfect treat for your pet ferret. As the chick is so young its bones should be consumable by your ferret as an extra source of calcium and pass through it naturally.
What Not To Feed Your Ferret
Fruit and vegetables should be kept to an absolute minimum and if possible, totally avoided. If you choose to use a mass-produced commercial pet food then check its label to make sure it is grain-free and has low vegetable content. Different brands try different tricks to try and cut costs. This can result in a less than ideal food for your ferret.
You can save yourself the time, effort, and worry by using the high-quality dry ferret food mix that we recommend. It has been tried and tested by ferret owners the world over and has an excellent reputation.
Similar to humans, ferrets are unable to digest fiber but it does help them stay regular. This is why we recommended not using foods higher than five percent fiber at the start of the article. In addition to having large amounts of fiber, fruit and vegetables can also lead to diseases in your ferret.
Avoid Dog Food
Although many people think that dogs are carnivores similar to ferrets, they are actually omnivores. This means that they can survive on fruits and vegetables if required with little to meat protein. Some people even choose to feed their dog a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Due to this, many dog foods will contain a large number of vegetable sources in their food mix. While this does not cause any issues for dogs, it does for ferrets! Additionally, they are usually too low in protein and fat to support a healthy diet in your ferret.
Although not an extensive list, the below items should be avoided from your ferret’s diet as best as possible.
- Brussel sprouts
- Dried plums
- Green Beans
- Kiwi fruit
- Lima Beans
- Peanut butter
- Pigeon beans
- Pink beans
- Pinto beans
- Small white beans
- Split peas
- Sweet potato
- Winged beans
Getting Your Ferret To Gain Or Lose Weight
The above foods can be manipulated to your advantage if you need to get your ferret to gain or lose weight. Our articles linked below will be able to offer further assistance on this.
Shared under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Max Moreau – Lord of the Manor – https://flic.kr/p/agLH9Y
Charles Sharp – pheasant cock – https://flic.kr/p/m3j3kC