Chicken is one of our favorite types of meat and it’s widely available everywhere. But can our beloved ferrets eat chicken as well? The answer is YES! Ferrets naturally hunt birds in the wild and chicken is easily one of the most popular foods for pet ferrets as well.
The best way to figure out what your pet’s diet should be is by checking what their wild counterparts eat in the wild. For cats there are the bigger cats, for dogs there are wolves, and for ferrets, there are the European Polecats.
Can ferrets eat chicken?
Ferrets absolutely love chicken, especially if they’re used to it from a young age. But if they’ve never seen raw food before, you will have to cook it. Chicken contains a lot of the fats and proteins your ferret needs to thrive. This is why kibble that is chicken-based is widely recommended as well.
Another great advantage is the fact that chicken also has taurine, which is extremely important to ferrets. Its job is to help the metabolism process the fat and produce energy. If your ferret’s diet doesn’t include any taurine, you can find various taurine supplements at the vet or exotic pet store.
Wild polecats hunt for rabbits, rats, mice, snakes, frogs, birds, etc. It’s very important to make sure your ferret gets all the nutrients polecats get through whole prey. And you can do this by creating specific meals for your ferret that includes exactly what your pet needs to lead a happy and healthy life. And chicken is a big part of that.
But you should be careful about the type of meat you give to your ferret. Just because it’s always available in your house doesn’t mean it’s good for the ferret. Chicken, duck, and other similar meats are perfect for ferrets. But pork, beef, etc, are too dense for them and they’ll have a hard time digesting them. Cured meats are also a no go, so avoid treats of salami or pepperoni.
Is Raw Chicken OK?
The body of a ferret is specifically made to eat raw food, more specifically, whole prey. This includes the fur or feathers, internal organs, bones, etc. Ferrets are pure carnivores and their bodies are designed to take all the nutrients they need from raw food more than anything.
Kibble is an easier option and it lasts for much longer. You can also leave the uneaten kibble in the cage all they and it won’t go bad. However, good kibble can be a bit pricey and kitten food is not 100% ideal for ferrets. It’s a good replacement in case of an emergency, but not ideal for long-term use.
And if you can’t afford to get good kibble, it’s much better to switch your ferret to a raw diet. It will also be much healthier for its body. But you need to keep in mind that the younger the ferret, the easier it will be to switch its food. If it’s already an adult, he will be very stubborn and it might take longer. And if it’s old, you might have absolutely no chance of switching its diet.
Should It Be Cooked Chicken?
If your ferret just won’t accept raw chicken, you can start cooking it. And the biggest advantage is that you have lots of cooking options. You can simply boil it and cut it into small pieces, make soup, slightly grill it, etc. Just remember to never add any condiments at all. And don’t use any pre-cooked chicken from stores as they contain quite a lot of salt.
A small disadvantage is that some of the nutrients are lost during the boiling process, but most of them will remain so it’s not something to be concerned about. However, a very dangerous thing is feeding cooked bones to your ferret. Cooked bones can splinter and cause your ferret to choke. Luckily, they have lots of strong acid in the stomach that will help deal with the bones, fur, feathers, etc.
Raw bones are actually highly recommended as they can help your ferret maintain its teeth clean. Just make sure you’re keeping an eye on the ferret while it’s eating as you never know when an accident might happen.
If you’re trying to switch from cooked chicken to raw chicken, just include a few very small pieces of raw chicken in the food and gradually increase it while giving less and less cooked meat. You might have to keep trying as there the ferret can easily eat everything except the tiny pieces of raw meat. They’re also stubborn creatures so you’ll need a lot of patience.