Ferrets are a domesticated pet and were domesticated from the European Polecat, which is related to similar mammals such as weasels, otters, badgers and wolverines. The exact reason that these animals were domesticated remains uncertain, but it is believed that they were first domesticated around 500 BC. Today, they are mostly kept as pets, but some owners train their animals to hunt small game (such as rabbits) and some enjoy racing their ferrets. Other uses for this species relate to experimental animal testing (specifically testing common human diseases). Let’s take a closer look at the diet of these popular little pets.
What do ferrets eat?
Their wild relatives, the European Polecat, are known for being carnivorous (meat eating) predators. The common diet of this species consists of small rodents, amphibians and birds. They are known for consuming this prey whole (including all meat, organ, skin, bones, fur/feathers etc). Ferrets are also carnivores and they rely on meat products for all of their dietary needs. This means that they are fed prepared food that consists. This should be high in protein and fat, but low in carbohydrates and fiber. Ferrets do not require any plant based foods! This is usually in the form of specialized ferret food that is commonly found at pet stores. Where this is not available a high quality cat food is a perfectly acceptable substitute. Some ferret owners prefer to feed their animals live prey, which is closer to the diet that their ancestors ate. This may include species such as live mice, rats and rabbits.
Did you know?
You can treat your ferret with cooked eggs, pieces of meat and freeze dried liver treats. Any commercial treat with grains, vegetables or sugar should be avoided. Most owners recognize that ferrets have a sweet tooth, but any sweet treat (including fruit) is best avoided!