Raw Info for Ferrets
In the wild, polecats (the closest relatives of the domestic ferret) feed on whole animals such as rodents and small birds. They eat everything… from head to toe.
Ferrets have a very short gastrointestinal tract and the little organisms living in it are very simple, unlike other animals that eat vegetation. This means that even if ferrets do want a piece of fruit or vegetable, they actually are incapable of digesting it!
In the wild, the only “vegetarian” items that a polecat would come across would be in their prey’s stomach (and it would be partially digested).
Due to the short gastrointestinal tract it takes only 3-4 hours for food to pass through the mouth to the bottom. This makes ferrets rather inefficient when it comes to absorbing vitamins and nutrients.
This is why a ferret’s diet needs to be made up of mostly FAT, as the main source of energy. Plus, it needs highly digestible MEAT – BASED PROTEINS.
I encourage all pet parents to be well educated on raw diets and here is a great article from a very reputable Veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker.
So in this case, what is healthy ferret food?
Healthy ferret food consists of whole prey…such as mice, rats and chicks etc.
Healthy ferret food includes:
- Raw chicken necks
- A bit of raw meat (can be ground as well, but like any carnivoret they have inbuilt mincers - their teeth - so it is better to give them whole chunks of meat)
- Raw egg yolks (no whites)
- Piece of raw liver or heart
Or pre-prepared frozen carnivore diets. These contain bits of lamb, beef, rabbit, chicken, etc. including ground bones, organs, muscle and fat. There should be no grains or vegetable products, sweeteners and additives.
Below are the basic guidelines for the Whole Prey Model of raw feeding for Ferrets:
75-80% - raw meat
10-15% - edible bone
10% - organ meat (half of that being liver)
Ok, so this is healthy for the ferret, but what else do they get out of it?
The advantages of including these items in your ferret’s diet include:
- Better absorption of nutrients and vitamins – better coat and general health.
- The above, also results in less poo (because everything is better absorbed).
- Exercise for the muscles of the neck and jaw
- Clean teeth and healthy gums (the bones normally clean them while they are being chewed on)
- Mental stimulation for your ferret – It will experience different textures, tastes and the harder effort of getting through a raw meal! (it will definitely keep them occupied)
- Ferrets will not need supplements while on a raw food diet – because all the nutrients and vitamins will be coming from their wholesome food!
- True excitement when it comes to feeding time!
Courtesy of http://www.ferret-world.com/
If feeding meat/bone/organ grinds you can use the Alnutrin supplement.
According to the "small animal nutritional guidelines" for cats should also be used when assessing the completeness for foods for ferrets.
This is a good website for nutritional info http://sites.google.com/site/holisticferret/