Ferrets are basically carnivores, for this reason, the main food for them must be meat. But can they also eat fruit? The answer is yes, but only occasionally.
People have kept ferrets as pets for more than 300 years, and long ago their diet was based only on whole prey, such as chickens, meat, and mice. In recent years, more and more people have begun to feed their ferrets only processed foods. Perhaps this is due to a general lack of time available, but above all to the convenience of ready-made food. People simply don’t have the time to buy good healthy food.
If you want your ferret to live a happy and healthy life, it would be wise to spend some time finding the most appropriate foods.
Can ferrets eat fruit: which one?
Ferrets can eat fruit but only in small quantities. If the ferret eats a banana, it will come out in the same original form in its droppings, because its digestive system can’t process anything but meat. Giving the ferret lots of fruit can even cause problems.
That said, fruit can be given as a treat or as a snack on occasion. Fruits have a high sugar content which means the presence of complex carbohydrates. The ferret’s digestive system is unable to process carbohydrates and a diet too rich in these elements can cause intestinal problems and even cancer in some cases.
Your ferrets will not risk developing problems if fruits are a moderately sourced food for them. Roughly, to stay within the safest possible values, we talk about half a teaspoon of fruit a day: you can give them berries, apples or bananas, even raisins, probably their favorite.
One thing to always remember is not to give ferrets acidic fruits, which could cause stomach problems: being the cause of further acidity, they can also cause diarrhea which leads to wasting, dehydration and malnutrition. Fruits that must be avoided are grapefruits, grapes, lemons, oranges, and limes.
The safe fruits are apple, melon, banana, but only in small quantities: they are just prizes, not a habit!
The ferret may have its own individual preferences among the different fruits. It is always best to remove the skins and cut the fruit into very small pieces, as the intestinal passages of ferrets are very small and pieces that are too large could cause blockages.
In small quantities, fruit can also provide excellent nutrients to ferrets: when used as a snack, rather than opting for commercial products, it saves the pet from too many potentially harmful chemicals in preservatives.
What should ferrets eat
Since ferrets are carnivores by nature, their diet should include the following:
- High protein foods, between 32% and 36% animal protein. Always read the label before purchasing.
- Make sure that the proteins are of animal origin, perfectly digestible, and of excellent quality. No to vegetable proteins.
- The fat content should be at least 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 to opt for cat food. Given that, however, more and more people decide to adopt a ferret, the choices on the market are still many.
Ferret food has more protein and less fat, but generally costs more than generic pet food, even if the expense is still worth it. However, as people realize the significance of feeding animals healthy food, there is a great deal of interest in natural food, closer to that native to the wild animal.
Some people decide to mix the more expensive ferret food with the cheaper cat food, in order to reduce costs: in doing so, the ferret’s diet will be more balanced.
If you are considering making a change in the ferret’s diet, it is best to proceed gradually. Mix both foods by slightly increasing the proportion of the new one, while decreasing the amount of the old one. However, it will be necessary to observe the ferret and its behavior during the process to be sure that everything is going well.
If you have just got a ferret puppy, try to provide a good variety of foods right away, as they are much more adaptable at this age. Adult ferrets are often stubborn, especially when it comes to food: this becomes a problem if the brand they are used to is not available in their trusted store.
To return to the original question: can ferrets eat fruit? The answer is yes.
Healthy food choices for your ferret will keep them happy and healthy, for a long, long time. They will also allow you to limit visits to the vet, which means fewer diseases and less money to spend!
This article is purely informative, at Shelterapet we do not have the right to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We encourage you to take your pet to the vet in case of any kind of discomfort.