What Do Ferrets Eat In The Wild?
Ferrets are small, furry, carnivorous animals and members of the weasel family. They are related to ermines and minks in the Mustela genus. Ferrets have a conical nose, a long tail and a long slim pear-shaped body with short legs and long claws. According to the American Ferret Association, ferrets are the third most popular pet after dogs and cats. Male ferrets are called hobs and female ferrets are called jills. Baby ferrets are called kits. Their average lifespan is 12 years.
Ferrets have been domesticated as pets for a long time; more than 2, 500 years ago by the ancient Greeks to hunt vermin. The sailors brought ferrets to ships to eradicate rats. That is how ferrets reached North America in the 17th century.
Domesticated ferrets may have different shades of fur colors like white, sable, silver, cinnamon and chocolate. The wild ferrets are not very colorful as compared to the domesticated ferrets. They have pale color with white foreheads, muzzles and throats and black feet. Their diet is meat based and in the wild, they eat any animal that they can hunt and eat, such as rats, rabbits, frogs, snakes, birds as well as bird eggs. In the areas close to the human population, they also hunt and eat poultry.
What food is good for Ferrets?
Domesticated ferrets are friendly as pets. Although they like to sleep or slumber most of the time, they will adjust their sleeping pattern to their owner’s. Being carnivorous, ferrets have short digestive tracts and digest food quickly. They also have a high metabolic rate so they get hungry soon. Due to both these factors, ferrets eat little, but too often. They need to eat 8 to 10 times a day.
They eat several times and should always have access to fresh food and plenty of water, the latter is important because it prevents dehydration. Ferrets get thirsty during summers and when they eat dry ferret foot. They eat according to their requirements which is small meals taken frequently.
If you have a domestic ferret, then it can be fed on raw chicken, lamb or pork. They need high-protein food and it should be animal protein as it is easier for them to digest than protein from veg sources. You can also give cooked chicken, turkey or organs such as liver or kidneys.
Avoid giving raw food and always cook pork as it can transmit pathogens which may make the ferret sick. You can also tie-up with your local butcher for organs and other stuff that are not bought. You can bring these over and cook them, as raw meat can be unhealthy. You can keep these in the freezer in small batches and while giving these can be warmed in the microwave. Eggs are excellent for ferrets and you can give raw or cooked egg once in a while. Ferrets sometimes eat fish and fish can be given, although not every ferret likes fish.
Packaged Foods for Ferrets
Now a few companies have come out with packed ferret food. It comes in both dry and wet types. These foods provide the nutrients a domesticated ferret needs. A healthy diet for domesticated ferrets should contain about 35-40 percent protein and 15-20 percent fats. It should be low in carbohydrates and fibers. When buying dried ferret food, it should be ensured that it has high meat protein contents and is low in carbohydrate and fibers.
Many companies market the products for cat and dog owners. These meat and fish products can be used to feed the ferrets at home. However, keep in mind that dog food is not appropriate or adequate for ferrets, as it lacks taurine, which is a vital food ingredient for ferrets. Avoid giving dog food to your ferret as it is not very high in proteins and has vegetable protein and fiber which are not digested by ferrets, and can cause problems such as constipation. Avoid giving cat food, as it also doesn’t contain high levels of protein levels. However, kitten food can be given as it is high in meat protein.
Some dietary supplements are made specifically for ferrets to meet their vitamin requirements. Ferrets need vitamins A, E and C to maintain good health, and if their regular food lacks these, then they should be given vitamin supplements.
Foods to Avoid
Feeding them inappropriate food will harm their digestion and cause constipation. Some of the foods that should be avoided, for they can cause digestive problems, are fruits, vegetables, sweets and chocolates, leftover food, milk and dairy products. Avoid foods having cereals, grain or corn. Ferrets can be fussy eaters and show their preference for a particular food. This may cause a problem, in case that food is not available. So it is always desirable to give them a variety of foods. You can also mix different type of foods so that they are not dependent on a particular food. Since ferrets eat rabbits; if you have a pet rabbit, you must ensure that it is protected.
What do Ferrets eat in the wild?
Once wild ferrets were found all over from Mexico to Canada, but they have now become almost extinct. A ferret needs about 100 to 120 acres of forest land to survive and find food. Wild ferrets are nocturnal creatures and spend their nights hunting for prey. They have very good sight and hearing as well as a high ability to smell. They make a chattering or hissing sound when they are frightened. They sleep during the day and in winter they can stay underground for a week. In the wild, the ferrets depend on prairie dogs to a large extent. Prairie dogs are a type of rodents that burrow in the soil and lives in underground tunnels. Ferrets not only hunt and eat prairie dogs but also live in their abandoned dens, which protects them from swooping eagles and other predators.
Being obligate carnivores, ferrets eat only meat. They eat whole prey animals like rats, possum, hedgehogs, small birds, and rabbits which can be found in the wild. They also eat fish and bird eggs. They consume about 50 to 70 grams of meat per day. Ferrets eat every part of the animal including its bones. Bones helps exercise the jaws and keeps teeth clean. Although they eat small portions they need to eat frequently. This is because they have a high metabolic rate and smaller intestines.
Ferrets, being mammals, give birth to their babies who feed on their mother’s milk. The baby ferrets or kits are the sizes of a human finger at the time of their birth, but they gain weight and grow fast. The mother ferret or a jill gives birth to a number of kits. A jill has 5 to 9 nipples and if the number of kits is more, then she feeds each in shifts. The kits get their first teeth in 3 to 4 weeks and then start eating solid food.
Here is a small list of What Do Ferrets Eat In The Wild.
• Rodents which include rats, prairie dogs, and mice;
• Amphibians like frogs
• Small invertebrates
• Ground squirrels
Ferrets are interesting and delightful pets at home. In the wild, this adorable creature is a small carnivore that keeps rodents, snakes and other creatures in check.
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