What Do Ferrets Eat In The Wild?

ferret gazing for food in the wild

Ferrets have been domesticated for thousands of years. However, they are increasingly becoming popular and people adore them. Ferrets are small wild animals that belong to the weasel family. Well, in this article, I am going to outline the ferret life in the wild. What do ferrets eat in the wild? ,

I have previously outlined the correct ferret diet for a domesticated ferret. Ferrets are strictly carnivorous, which means that they eat meat. Even the dry commercial food you find in the store will have a high content of proteins.

Well, let us look a little back at the ferret history. In ancient Greece, people kept ferrets to hunt vermin and rodents. At the same time, the sailors would use ferrets to keep the rats out of the ships. It is how we all learned about domesticating ferrets.

Ferrets in the wild

Ferrets are wild animals that feed on small animals as prey. They are hunters and will hunt down small animals and kill for prey. For this reason, ferrets are equipped with a very good sense of hearing. Ferrets are fast too. I mean, have you observed yours once you let him out of the cage?

Ferrets will hunt down small animals in the wild. They also love burrowing to retrieve their catch from the underground. They will spend most of their nights hunting and days asleep. Wild ferrets are more of nocturnal on the contrary to being crepuscular.

During winter, ferrets would hibernate even for more than a week. Well, as I mentioned above, ferrets are burrowers. So during the day, ferrets will sleep and hunt at night. Some of his favorite prey may include rats, birds, bird eggs, fish and even hedgehogs. Basically, ferrets in the wild will hunt down and kill small animals for prey.

Once they have their kill, they will feed on the whole prey. This includes all the organs of his catch and chews on the bones. This is healthy for them to keep their teeth strong and clean. Now, a ferret will need about 60-70 grams of meat per day.

 What foods are good for ferrets?

Well, understanding the wild ways of life for our pets is important. Domesticating ferrets means that we try to complement his lifestyle as much as we can. I have already indicated that ferrets are carnivorous. This means that they will feed on high protein food.

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to keep a ferret for hunting purposes. We keep them as pets and provide all the resources that they may need. So what exactly do you feed your ferret?

Luckily for you, you will find quality ferret food in your local store. Alternatively, you can purchase some of the best quality from recognized brands online. Ferret food will have a high protein content, which makes up for the prey he would feed on in the wild.

I advise you to read the ingredient content on the food before purchasing. You want to make sure that it has a high content of protein and fewer carbs. Fortunately, food specifically made for ferrets will contain all the right content for your fuzzy friend.

Can I feed him whole prey?

Now, this is a common question amongst ferret owners. Well, I have already indicated that ferrets would hunt down prey for food in the wild. So, yes, you can feed him whole prey with precautions. If you choose to supplement your ferret’s diet with raw foods, go for the small animals.

For instance, you can kill chicks and freeze them before feeding them to your ferret. Alternatively, you can also get mice and feed them to your ferret. Whole prey is nutritious to ferrets but also cooked meat. If you are out of ferret food, do not worry as you can make some chicken for him.

However, do not include other ingredients when cooking meat for your ferret. Some of the ingredients we make to season our food may be harmful to ferrets. For instance, garlic and onions can be deadly for your pet ferret. Avoid adding any additives in your ferret’s foods.

As must as this is a great option for you, I still love commercial ferret foods. Dry food is not only safe but also beneficial to developing healthy jaws and teeth.

Do not forget to provide clean drinking water for your ferret.

What about treats?

As with owning a dog or cat, you should also have treats for your ferret. They love the little tasty treats they get between means. Besides, it is going to be useful when training your ferret a few tricks. Now, as with the main diet, your ferret treats should also be very healthy.

The good news is, when you fail to buy ferret treats, you can easily substitute with something in your kitchen. For instance, ferrets love eggs. If you are going to feed him raw eggs, then only give the yolk.

Eggs make excellent treats in various forms. You can also cook or make scrambled eggs for your ferret. However, refrain from offering him too many eggs. Bring it down to one egg in a week.

There are other treats that you can result in. Pieces of chicken, turkey, and lamb also make healthy treats for ferrets. I advise you against foods that contain sugar. We are going to talk about the foods you must avoid to keep your ferret healthy.

Feeding your ferret

Ferrets have quite a short digestive tract. This means that they have a high metabolism rate. For this reason, they tend to feel hungry quite often. They usually feed at least 8 times a day. If you have to work every day, you have to come up with a way to make sure that your ferret has food at all times.

Understanding your ferret’s diet is one thing. However, feeding him will also require a systematic way of doing it. Well, before I go on, I must mention that ferrets tend to be fussy sometimes. I advise you to start mixing his food with another type slowly.

If you are considering changing the type of food you offer him, I suggest you start mixing small amounts of the new food with his old diet. This will help you transition your ferret diet from one type of food to another.

How do you feed a ferret

Once you have the correct type of food for your ferret, understanding how to feed him is important. For instance, you can depend on one type of ferret food for so long that he will not eat any other food. Well, consistency is great but think about the day you might not have access to the type of food you offer your ferret.

Ferrets tend to grow attachments to certain things. For example, he might be attached to one member of the family alone. While he might be friendly with everything else, you can notice the difference. The same happens with food. If he eats the same amount of food over a stretched period of time, he might not eat any other food.

For this reason, I suggest you start mixing two foods. All these foods should be safe and contain high animal protein.

In case you cannot access ferret food, I guarantee you that you will find quality cat food to use as a substitute.

Now, ferrets are excellent to keep as pets. However, they feed quite a lot which means you have to ensure that his bowl always has food. It is almost impossible to make a schedule for a pet who feeds about 8-10 times a day.

I love using a multi-level cage even if I have a single ferret. Well, when leaving the house, you can hide treats in different levels as well as install food stations at each level. Leave the gates to other levels open. This will not only stimulate your ferret but also keep them fed at all times of the day.

Foods to avoid giving your ferret

Ferrets are sensitive small creatures. As obligate carnivores, ferrets would eat prey in the wild. Well, I have already mentioned that his diet should compose of high animal protein content. There are so many options in terms of commercial ferret food.

Now, let us look at the foods you should avoid giving your ferret whatsoever. Starting with foods cooked with vegetables, especially garlic and onions. These could result in fatal illnesses and sometimes death. Furthermore, your ferret is not going to be able to digest vegetables.

Dairy products should also not be on the list of your ferret’s diet. Avoid chocolate, ice cream, yogurt, and milk. Do not offer your ferret any of these products, not even as a treat. The same case goes for fruits. Fruits and other sugar-laced foods may cause an increase in insulin production. As a result, your ferret could suffer from insulinoma.

One more thing that you need to understand about ferrets is that they cannot regurgitate foods. This is an important factor that will need you to check whether your ferret has hairballs. Ferrets may end up swallowing hairballs that shed during grooming. If you fail to empty and wash his food bowl, your ferret could eat them.

Hairballs are known to cause intestinal obstruction. This will need a visit to the doctor and sometimes complex surgery. Luckily for you, there are treats you may offer your ferret to reduce shedding of his fur. This is a perfect solution to prevent him from swallowing hairballs.


Understanding what ferrets eat in the wild is important when developing a diet for him. You now understand the kinds of food to go even when you are out of quality ferret food. Since ferrets are carnivorous, you can provide whole prey from time to time.  If you are considering getting commercial ferret food, read the ingredients list. Make sure that it does not contain harmful substances.

If you choose to offer him raw food, I suggest you keep them in the fridge before offering it to your ferret. This is much safer and ensures that the pre-killed prey is free of pathogens that could cause illnesses for your fuzzy buddy.

What foods are you currently giving to your ferret?

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