There are lots of treats out there for ferrets, ranging from raw meat to fancy gourmet treats. The problem is that most of these treats contain high levels of sugar, fats, and other ingredients that aren’t beneficial to their health. Ferrets also shouldn’t eat too much of anything because they can quickly become obese. Instead, you should focus on providing them with healthy and nutritious food. As a ferret owner, you might be wondering what treats you can safely feed your pet ferret, well I’m here to help so read on.
The best treats for ferrets are organ meat (liver, heart, kidney) meat proteins such as chicken, turkey and rabbit, with the occasional egg.
How to use treats with your ferret
I use treats primary as rewards when training. Using treats as part of positive reinforcement training is an excellent way to encourage desirable actions in your ferrets, especially if they are food motivated.
At the veterinarian’s office, to assist the ferret remain still during an examination. Ferrets are restless animals, which can make examinations by a veterinarian difficult. This is where a food reward can be beneficial; it allows your ferret to concentrate on food rather than the frightening medical professional poking and prodding him.
When you’re trying to clip your ferret’s nails or clean its ears, a food treat may come in handy as a distraction.
When a ferret’s illness or injury leaves it in need of additional nutrition treats can help. If you’ve ever had to care for a sick ferret, you’ll know that keeping their weight up can be difficult. To provide energy, encourage them to eat more, and combat the ailment they are suffering from, feeding them food bribes is sometimes required.
What Treats Can I Feed My Ferret?
Ferrets mostly eat meat as they are carnivores. A ferret’s diet must contain at least 30-40% of animal based protein. This is the list of some foods that you can use as treats with much per portion and how to prepare them. Some foods are more suited to rewards for training like chopped chicken or egg. Please note you should not feed your ferret all these foods in one day! The portion guide is for one training exercise per day.
List of Safe Treats and Portion Control for Ferrets
|Food||Portion Sized||Preparation Guide|
|Chicken or Turkey||Cut one breast into small cubes||Cooked or raw chicken can be fed to your ferret. If using raw, make sure you wash your hands and utensils thoroughly in hot soapy water after feeding.|
|Egg||Chop one egg into bite sized chunks feed 4-5 chunks only.||Hard boiled are easiest to handle as treats, but can be fed raw on top of other food|
|Raw Chicken Bone||Leg bone||Only feed raw chicken bones as these make good ferret toothbrushes.|
|Whole mice, chick or rat||One fresh||Fed whole as a jackpot reward after training session|
|Liver||One slice||Cooked or raw chopped into small chunks|
|Kidney||Half||Cooked or raw chopped into small chunks|
|Heart||Quarter of Lambs heart||Cooked or raw chopped into small chunks|
|Kitten Food ( kibble)||3-4 pieces||Higher protein content in kitten food makes it suitable as a treat for your ferret or a substitute for their normal pellets if you run out in an emergency|
|Cat Treats||4-5 a day||Choose freeze dried meats or high quality cat treats|
|Apple||One slice||Chop into small crunchy cubes|
How to choose ferret friendly treats
When choosing your treats there are a couple of things to bear in mind.
Check the ingredients
First, make sure that the treats are safe for your ferret. There are many types of ferret treats available. You need to check the ingredients to ensure that they are suitable for your ferret. Some commercial treats that are introduced and sold in the market today, contain some ingredients that can be harmful to them like there are some added artificial colors, flavors, and BHT that are used as a preservative but are considered a carcinogen. If you see something not genuine or anything that is not good on the list of ingredients, it is best not to buy that treat and look for some option that has natural ingredients inside.
Texture and size of treats
The texture of the treat is important to your ferret, too hard and it will hurt their soft mouths, too soft and it will end up as mush in your hand – especially if you are using them for training. Ferrets like a bit of crunch in their treats which mimics the feeling of crushing a bone in a small mouse ( yeuk I know, but true). So, it’s important when looking for commercial treats to buy that they are not little hard treats with sharp corners, like cat treats sometimes are. Opt for the kitten version instead as they tend to be moist and more chewable. Alternatively, buy some specific ferret treats like the ones I’m recommending below.
Preventing hairballs in ferrets
If you want to prevent hairball issues, then you may want to consider buying some special treats that are designed specifically for ferrets. These treats are usually made out of wheat gluten, so they won’t cause any problems for your ferret’s stomach. They are also very easy to digest and do not require any prepping at all. Just add water and let them soak for about 30 minutes. You can even get them ready in advance and freeze them until you’re ready to serve them.
What foods to avoid giving as treats to your ferret
These are the lists of some foods you must avoid feeding your ferrets to make sure they are always healthy and happy.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are high in carbohydrates and these types of foods are not good on their digestive tracts since they are strict carnivores. Avoid hard raw vegetables like carrots as these can form and cause internal obstructions.
Chocolate and Caffeine
Eating chocolate can be fatal to ferrets because of its contents like theobromine and caffeine that even if they eat a small amount of these contents can immediately become lethal to them. And no, your ferret won’t want a cup of tea or coffee!
Avoid foods that contain high sugar like any sweets such as ice cream, raisins, cheese, and milk as these products can cause diarrhoea and produce erratic swings in their blood sugars.
Ferrets can eat and digest small raw bones but cooking bones makes them brittle and break into sharp pieces. These pieces can cause severe damage to your ferret’s digestive tract which can be fatal.
Anything that contains Xylitol
Keep these things out of their reach like chewable gums, vitamins, toothpaste, and anything that contains xylitol as these can be toxic to ferrets.
Too much consumption of grapes can cause kidney failure in ferrets. Just to be on the safer side, do not give grapes to them.
Preparation Tips for Ferret Treats
Cook raw meats
Some offer raw meats to their ferrets but this will increase their risk of having a foodborne illness. It is recommended to best boil meats until cooked through and still moist and tender. For you to save time, cook a large batch of meat and put it in your freezer. You can then defrost portions overnight ready to use the next day.
Cut treats into small pieces
Ferrets have sensitive gums, quick metabolism, narrow and short digestive tracks, so any food or object that is too large and sharp is not good for them. Cut the treats up to a quarter-inch or 0.5cm pieces and round off any sharp edges.
Remove all cooked bones
Said this before, but you must remove bones from your cooked meat before you offer them to ferrets as this can injure like cause cut and break to their mouth and worse.
Ferrets love treats but eating too much is not good for them. As part of the general rule, limit them to only one treat a day. Limit threats up to 10% caloric intake daily. 30 to 40 grams or 1 to 1.5 ounces of dry food a day is good for adult ferrets. Read the food packaging first for you to calculate their caloric intake daily by multiplying servings by the calories.
Homemade Treat Recipes for Ferrets
Along with my table of treat ideas above, here are some recipes I’ve found online that you might like to make at home.
These are easy treats to make and pet ferrets love to eat this kind of treat. If you do not have a dehydrator, you can use an oven at home. Top round and flank steak are some good options of meat for jerky. Just cut into thin strips and cook on a really really low oven for a long time. To make this economical I pop some in the oven when it’s cooling down after we’ve made our Sunday roast dinner!
No good for training, but a great treat for your ferret to slurp up after playtime. The main ingredients of this soup are low sodium chicken broth and one pound of chop meat – you can use cheaper cuts meats or some leftover meats from your meals. This is a simple soup and you can add more ingredients if you like and you can vary with various proteins. Pop all the ingredients in a slow cooker and leave on for 24 hours to really break everything down. You can put bones in this but make sure that you crush them all up when cooked to get the best out of them and strain your soup before giving to your ferret in case you missed any bits.
Ferrets don’t eat carbohydrates but base recipes are good for them. For you to add variety to their diets, you can differ the type of meat that you will use such as beef, turkey, rabbit, or chicken meat and you can mix it with some internal organ parts like heart, liver, or gizzard. This is just a simple recipe and you can prepare this with more ingredients and you can put the leftovers in the fridge. I like to freeze the puree in a silicone mat which makes little frozen treats ideal for ferrets.
Commercial Treats for Ferrets
* LOW SUGAR CONTENT AND COMPOSED OF MEAT INGREDIENTS. These ferret treats have a peanut butter flavor and are good for ferret because it has low sugar content. These Marshall bandits premiums are needed so that their levels of blood sugar will keep and under control. Most of Marshall’s bandits’ ingredients are meat and the flavoring of peanut butter is being used.
* AFFORDABLE PRICE. The market price is $4.99 and the net weight is 85 grams or 3 oz.
* RESEALABLE PACKAGE. The package is resealable that’s why you don’t need to refrigerate between uses.
* YOU CAN KEEP THEM FRESH ALWAYS. To keep these fresh, put them in a second bag or you need to repackage these treats if your ferret will no longer eat.
NBone Ferret Chews
* ALL-NATURAL INGREDIENTS. Ingredients of these ferret chew sticks are corn starch, gelatin, water, gluten, vegetable glycerin, corn gluten meal, fish oil, menhaden meal, natural salmon flavor, ginger, taurine, preserved with mixed tocopherols, and lecithin. Ingredients are all-natural, have no preservatives, no added colors, and are completely digestible and edible.
* CLEAN THEIR TEETH AND GUMS. This will help in keeping their gums and teeth healthy as tartar and plaque are being frayed away during their chewing period.
* ADDED FEATURES. It has added taurine and omega 3 and 6 for healthier skin and coats. These are delicious edible treats for your ferret.
Natural Treats Chicken and Liver
* BRITISH CHICKEN. Made with fresh British chicken meat, liver & egg. Not dried or reconstituted – the way ferrets like it.
* MOIST AND CHEWTY. – Unlike other ferrets treats they are dense/semi moist rather than dried or crispy.
- MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR FERRETS. – They are gluten-free, dairy-free and added-sugar free.
What can I give my ferret as a treat? FAQs
Can Ferrets Eat Cat Treats?
In general, veterinarians recommend offering kitten food or kitten treats rather than food or treats formulated for full-grown adult cats. The high-protein, high-fat growing kitten’s diet comes closer to the diet a ferret needs than that of an adult cat’s.
What Treats Are Most Delicious for Ferrets?
Usually ferrets will prefer meat treats such as chicken, turkey and organs such as liver, heart and kidney.
Can you give baby food to ferrets?
Yes, you can feed your ferret baby food with a high meat content such as chicken or turkey. Just be mindful of the sugar content and additives so read the label.
Can you feed cat food to ferrets?
Cat food is not beneficial to your ferret as it does not have a high enough protein content so choose kitten food instead.
Can you feed chocolate to ferrets?
Chocolate is poisonous to ferrets due to the levels of theobromine in cocoa beans.
Can you feed coconut oil to ferrets?
Coconut oil is safe for your ferret feed 1/4 – 1/2 tsp a day, no more than 2-3 times per week.
Can you feed egg yolks to ferrets?
Egg yolks are rich in biotin and safe to feed your ferrets, no more than one a day is recommended.
Can you feed fish to ferrets?
Fish are not a natural part of a ferret’s diet but it is safe for them to eat. Try a sardine from a tin (in plain oil) or tinned tuna in freshwater.
Can you feed pork to ferrets?
Pork offcuts raw pork on the bone are good sources of protein and vitamins for your ferret.
Can you feed rabbits to ferrets?
Ferrets love rabbit meat and can be fed a whole rabbit. Gut first and check for tapeworm cysts. Remove the liver but you can leave the heart, kidneys and then offer to your ferret.
Ferrets are very playful animals who love to play with their owners and other pets. They like to hide in places where humans cannot see them. This makes them great escape artists because you’ve no idea where your pet ferret has gone! They also enjoy playing games such as tug-of-war,