Natural Ferret Food
Historically, ferrets were thought to be an unusual, entertaining and easy to care for pet, but in fact, ferrets have some very specific nutritional needs, and foods that are suitable for other small animals and rodents are often unsuitable, or not nutritionally complete, for ferrets.
A Healthy Diet for Ferrets
Our pet ferrets are a domesticated relative of the European polecat and belong to the same family as weasels. They’re thought to have been domesticated at least 2,500 years ago, when they were used to cull vermin. With no wild ferrets to study, researchers have to look to the diet and habitat of ferrets’ wild cousins and the biology of ferrets themselves to discover the ideal natural, healthy diet for a ferret and formulate natural ferret food recipes.
Ferrets are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat high amounts of meat and that meat should be their primary source of protein. Natural ferret food should always have a very high meat and protein content.
Two Important Rules for Formulating Natural Ferret Food
There are two quirks in a ferret’s biology that make them different from most other small pets and rodents.
1. Like cats and weasels, ferrets cannot make taurine.
Taurine is an amino acid that many animals can make within their body from other amino acid precursors. However, ferrets, like cats and weasels, cannot do this—and must get taurine from their diet, as it’s essential to the health and function of their heart and eyes.
2. Ferrets have a very short gastrointestinal tract.
While rodents thrive on a high fibre diet, a ferret’s short digestive tract means this is the very opposite of what they need! Food passes through their gastrointestinal tract very quickly and their digestive system has neither the time nor ability to digest large quantities of fibre, so natural ferret food should be low in fibre and based on easily digestible animal proteins like chicken, turkey and fish.
Natural ferret food should also have no added sugars or artificial ingredients, mimicking the natural diet of ferrets’ wild relatives as closely as possible to keep them happy and healthy.