Ferrets have been domesticated for over 2000 years and we all certainly at least know someone who has one in their house as a pet. These animals are typically reserved and do not seek company, but are amiable and can be social. And while they look miniature and easy to manage, looks can be deceptive! They are not a small responsibility and it is certainly not easy to manage their everyday needs including housing, diet, exercise, mental well-being, cleanliness, and accessories. So, while taking care of these tiny animals, if you come across a situation where you have questions about your caretaking, you are not alone! One of these inquisitions a lot of Ferret owners have is whether Ferrets can consume Raw Meat.
Giving your Ferrets raw meat sounds scary as you will never do the same for yourself or any other human being, because raw meat is tough and chewy and well, raw. But is the situation here the same for the Ferrets? It is always advisable to do your research before taking any measures. So, let’s dive into this question and analyze everything we study to make a well-crafted judgment.
Protein In A Ferret’s Diet
A Ferret is a carnivorous animal that needs a high protein intake regularly. Although requirements vary from individual to individual; a rough estimate of their daily need is 32%-38% of their total diet. This means that meat is an important aspect of their daily menu as it contains high proportions of protein. Domesticated Ferrets can fulfill this demand with food like Kitten food and dried Ferret food, both of which are high in meat proteins and can provide the animal with what they need.
Moreover, when it comes to the actual food menu, meat is truly one of the things you can feed your Ferret without hesitation when compared to other consumables such as:
- Fruits and vegetables can be seriously lethal as their high carbohydrate content can strain their pancreas leading to Insulinoma which can life-threatening as it metastasizes
- Dog/Cat Food: While kitten food was allowed to consume, dog and cat food do not satisfy the ferret’s needs.
- Grains: Ferrets cannot process grains either even though they can contain proteins, and this can lead to obesity and diarrhea.
- Dairy Products: Whilst dairy goods do contain a high amount of protein, adult ferrets are not able to digest the lactose in the dairy products, therefore it can be a health hazard if you provide them with this leading to diarrhea and dehydration.
Can Ferrets Eat Raw Meat?
In wild, Ferrets normally eat their prey whole, thereby taking all the necessary nutrients. They prey on smaller animals like rodents and birds to feed themselves and they consume them raw. So, a short answer to whether ferrets can eat raw meat or not is: yes, they can. But there is a catch here, as you domesticate a ferret it diet is also changed. You feed them the pellets from the pet shop designed to fulfill their hunger. No matter how beneficial a meaty diet can be, if your ferret is not accustomed to eating raw meat then it is not a great idea to give them raw meat as the main part of their diet. If you plan on changing your ferret’s diet, do it gradually, little by little so it does not jeopardize their normal life, especially involving their digestive tract. Many times, pet owners would often feed their ferret cooked or processed meat which is different from the relatively new addition to their tray, which is raw meat. As this would only create further complications you should follow the gradual process of shifting a ferret’s diet.
For a smooth transition to a raw diet, you should follow your vet’s guidance as each Ferret is different and it would take a different method and period for every individual. A few of these transitioning tricks include to keep offering your ferrets ground meat like a chicken until they willingly eat it or taking some of the ground meat and rubbing it over their nose and at some point, they have to lick it to clean. However, this can be a lengthy process and requires constant attention. It is such a diverse process that it would require its own set of instructions with all the discrepancies.
Whilst in the wild they will consume the meat of the animal they hunt, a domesticated ferret, one which has a raw diet lifestyle, can eat all types of meat you have to offer. Although they survive on meat, you need to make sure you introduce variety in their diet as it is significant for their health, making sure they get a balanced diet. Including red meat is also necessary as it contains various nutrients your ferret needs which white meat can just not provide them with. Some of the meats they can eat are:
- Chicken wings and stripped carcasses
- Turkey necks
- Minced beef
- Lambs heart
- Raw animal bones for calcium and for cleaning your ferret’s teeth
Source: The British Ferret Club, Feeding Adult Ferrets
Some of this meat is easy to obtain and some difficult, but for your ferret’s appetite as well as their health, you must at least provide them with four to five different types of meat, and even more if possible as it will be even further assisting them in getting a balanced diet.
How to feed Meat to your Ferret?
There are different pathways to choose from when it comes to a raw diet. This study will take a look into each of them and delve into the pros and cons to make things easier for you to understand.
- Freeze/Air-dried Meat: This type of meat is stripped of its moisture content while still making sure it has its nutritional value. This type of diet lacks larger bones and ferret benefits greatly from eating bones, especially big ones so you might have to look for other alternatives for bones and cannot solely rely on it for every nutrition your ferret needs. This type of meat also is dehydrated so you have to rehydrate it before giving it to your ferret or else it can lead to dehydration in the animal by draining moisture from its digestive tract. Although convenient as they come in a packaging which you can store and give to your ferret instantly, one drawback of this diet is that it is really expensive and so is not cost-effective.
- Commercial grinds: Whilst it is not as pricier, it comes with two options. Complete grind and incomplete grind. The complete version can be fed on its own without any supplements. The incomplete does require more supplements to provide your ferret with a balanced diet. Additionally, though, you may need to add more bone to the diet.
- Franken prey: This one is the most cost-efficient but comes with a big burden of monitoring. It consists of different parts of different animals so they get a variety of food in their meal. Whatever diet plan you choose to follow for your ferret, you must ensure that it is well balanced and for this, you may have to consult your vet to be certain about it. You also have to make sure your ferret eats each part of the diet and is eating enough of it as they may avoid some parts which are very necessary for their health.
- Whole prey: This diet plan is perfect for your pet as it mimics the diet they receive in the wild, but it can be pricey. It is a whole animal which they get to consume for their meal. You have to make sure you are giving them enough variety though, and giving them enough of it to ensure a balanced supper. Furthermore, it is challenging to obtain different whole prey easily but it is worth it. Also, you should freeze hunter meat for safety purposes.
Moreover, it is recommended you avoid carnivorous meat or processed, seasoned, and preserved meat as both come with their cons. Carnivorous meat does not meet the nutritional requirement whilst processed, seasoned, and preserved meat comes with compounds added to them like preservatives or seasoning which can be detrimental to your ferret.
Raw meat is certainly a good meal choice for your Ferret, and will undeniably provide a healthy lifestyle to your ferret. Therefore, in conclusion not only can your ferret eat raw meat but also it should eat it. It has everything your ferret needs and wants and is the best option out there. Although you may have to struggle at first while feeding your ferret with raw meat but it will be worth it nonetheless. However, if any complications do arise do not hesitate to contact your vet. Every pet is unique and it is best to see what suits your pet best!