· Ferrets are obligate carnivores. That means that their bodies are designed to eat muscle, bone, organ and fur/feathers. It also means that they are physically unable to process or digest anything else such as fruits, veggies, grains etc.
· If you look at a ferret’s teeth, you’ll see they’re not flat. Flat teeth are designed for chewing and grinding, like ours are or cows are. Ferret teeth are pointy on top and come together in a scissor-like way and are designed to crush and tear, not grind.
Benefits of Raw
· The number one benefit of raw is that they are much healthier. Their fur is softer and fuller, and they smell a ton better. Grape Tail is a real thing.
· They poop less and it smells much less. This is because they are actually absorbing and using everything they eat, instead of eating a bunch of veggies and grains that are used as fillers/binders in kibble that they can’t digest and it just passes through them.
· They have more energy.
· They aren’t chronically dehydrated like kibble fed ferrets
· Raw food stabilizes blood sugars much better and helps control insulinoma
· Healthier ferrets means less vet bills.
· If they eat bone in, or chew bone in treats (wings, feet, necks etc) on a regular basis, there’s no need for them to ever have a dental cleaning done. Crushing raw bone is the same as brushing their teeth. If they eat grinds, it does help their teeth, but it does not have the same cleaning effect as frankenprey or whole prey. Ferrets that eat grinds and don’t like bone in treats should have their teeth brushed once per week, just like kibble fed ferrets should.
My vet says it’s bad for them.
· Unfortunately, nutrition classes in vet school are sponsored by the kibble companies. Kibble companies have a vested interest in keeping every pet on their food. Vets are taught that kibble will satisfy the basic nutritional requirements, and it will, but there’s a difference between surviving and thriving, isn’t there? Sometimes, your vet isn’t actually against raw feeding, they’re against UNBALANCED raw feeding and therefore tell their clients not to feed raw. Unbalanced raw IS worse for them than kibble.
My ferret won’t eat meat, I gave him some chicken and he didn’t want anything to do with it.
He didn’t know it was food. If I gave you a plate of crickets, would you eat them? No, but they are edible. Ferrets imprint on their food by about 4-6 months of age, that’s why it’s a transition process. It doesn’t happen overnight. EVERY ferret can be transitioned. You just have to introduce it correctly and out stubborn them. You wouldn’t let a 2-year-old skin kid only eat ice cream every day, would you?
Raw diets are too complicated.
They can seem complicated at first, but once you’re doing it and breaking it down day by day, it’s really not. Grinds and whole prey are the easiest way to feed raw because each meal is already balanced. The hardest part of feeding grinds or whole prey is remembering to pull the food out of the freezer in time for it to thaw. A lot of frankenprey feeders make up a weekly calendar and write the meals out for each day for a solid week and then follow it. The hardest part of that is the 20 minutes it takes to plan out your meals. And remembering to pull it out of the freezer.
What Tools Do I Need?
· Small kitchen scale
· Freezer (most raw feeders have a freezer just for their ferrets)
· Plates to avoid whisker fatigue
How Often Do I Feed?
· Every 12 hours or so. This doesn’t have to be exact. Ferrets are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. This is usually when they’ll be looking for their food. In the winter, I tend to feed supper a lot earlier because the sun goes down a lot earlier. So in the winter, mine get fed around 8am and 4pm. In the summer, it’s closer to that 12 hours.
· Some raw feeders will pick the food back up after a couple of hours, some will leave it down for the full 12 hours or until the next meal is served.
· Yes, it’s safe to leave down, no it doesn’t stink. Black-footed ferrets and polecats don’t have refrigerators, they’ll eat from their prey for days and days, and your ferret’s body is designed the same way. Raw soups are good for 8-10 hours, grinds for 12 hours, bone-in for 12-24 hours and whole prey for 24-48 hours. If it’s gone bad, they won’t eat it. Until it’s Ferret Jerky, then they’ll eat it again. (If feeding bone-in or whole prey, take it away after 48 hours as dried bones can become brittle like cooked bones and can (rarely) cause intestinal damage.)
Where Do I Feed?
· Some do in cage feeding only
· Some do free roam feeding
· Some do feeding dens to help avoid stashing
· Some hang whole prey/bone-in in the cage for enrichment
· Some hide food around their play area for stimulation
How Much Do I Feed?
This varies with a lot of different factors. Seasons, age, type of food (soup vs grind vs bone-in)
A General rule of thumb, once they’re transitioned, is 1-3oz per meal for girls and 2-4oz per meal for boys. Kits eat lots more. Winter will be on the higher end of that range, summer on the lower end. Soupies will be more than grinds, which will be more than bone in, which will be more than whole prey and that comes down to ease. You can drink a milkshake faster than you can eat a steak, and you’ll consume more of the milkshake than you will of the steak.
From balanced raw grinds, to transition soupies, to our Dook Soup to help support sick/elderly ferrets and bone in treats to keep teefies clean