The journey to raw can be exciting, frustrating, rewarding and painstaking.There is no absolute right way or wrong way, different methods work differently for different people and different ferrets. The things that are always the same with every transition is being patient and being stubborn, both you and your ferrets. This is a learning process for both of you and you have to celebrate the victories and move past the set backs.
The first step in transitioning to raw is to introduce your ferrets to a smooth raw soup like Simon's Simple Soupie. The lighter meats, like chicken and turkey, have a milder flavor and are more easily accepted than meats with a stronger flavor like beef. The introduction process begins with the "grab and dab" method. Warm up the soupie and then sit on the floor with your plate while your ferrets are playing. Whenever one gets close enough, scoop him up into your lap. Dab your finger in the soupie, and then dab that on his lips and let him go. Since ferrets can be very dramatic, there may be gagging or face rubbing, possibly even some stink eye. That's ok, keep at it. Depending on your ferret, you may have to repeat this process several times a day for a week or more before they're willing to eat the soupie on their own. That's ok too. Bribery is a very useful tool at this stage.
Bribery is good when it comes to ferrets and there are lots of ways to entice them to eat their soup. Here's a few suggestions:
And reward them with their favorite oil or treat and lots of kisses and praise when they are willing to eat their soup on their own!
One of the most important things about switching your ferrets to a raw diet is to not starve them. It does not speed up the process at all. If I offered you a plate of crickets, would you be more excited about eating it if you were hungry? Nope. Same with your ferret. He doesn't recognize the soup as food and he's not going to want to eat it, even if he's hungry. That's why it's a process and a long, slow introduction. Do not take away the kibble entirely until they are willingly eating the soup on their own. Once they are, you can take the kibble out during the day and replace it at night until you're certain that they're eating the soup overnight and not just eating the kibble. Kibble is addictive. It's full of all kinds of fat and grease that tastes great to them and they will choose it over soup almost every time in the beginning. It's like choosing between a salad and a milkshake for us. Once they're eating the soup willingly and enthusiastically, you officially have raw fed ferrets and you can remove the kibble forever.
Once you have fully raw fed ferrets, you will begin the rest of the journey. The hardest part is over. Now it's time to move them along in their transition until you get to whatever type of diet is your goal, whether that's grinds, frankenprey or whole prey. To transition from soup to grinds, begin by putting some grinds in their soup and gradually increase the grind while decreasing the soup. You can also water the grinds down and make a soup out of them and just slowly decrease the amount of water until they're just eating the grinds. This is also the stage where you will introduce them to new proteins. Each new protein can require a mini-transition, so don't be surprised at this stage if they turn their noses up to each new protein the first time it's offered. If they do, fall back on your bribery skills. New proteins as grinds can be introduced with great success as soups with oil on top.