Ferrets are obligate carnivores, which means that their bodies are made to eat meat and whole-prey only. Any other type of food your ferret eats will come with consequences. Some fruits cause minimum damage while others can be fatal over time.
It’s incredible how many ferret owners just don’t take the time to inform themselves about the fact that they’re special animals with special dietary needs. And this often leads to various health issues that are only discovered when it’s already too late.
The only reason you should feed your ferret fruits and vegetables is if it lacks something important for its health and by eating a specific fruit or vegetable it will get back in shape. Some ferrets might even love fruits but they are not capable of digesting them.
Can Ferrets Eat Fruit? What Kind?
The short answer is NO. You should avoid feeding your ferret fruit no matter how curious they get when you eat one. It’s important to keep up with all the vet checkups, and if your vet recommends starting to feed your ferret something, you should follow the instructions very closely.
Don’t ever feed your ferret a fruit just because it makes you feel good. You’re a human and your digestive system is so different than your ferrets’. Don’t feed them fruits that your dog and cat love to eat either. What dogs eat can be very harmful to ferrets and cat diets are not always safe for them either.
Ferrets don’t have a cecum, which is the blind pouch at the beginning of a large intestine, right where the small intestine opens. This gland is the one that’s capable of producing microorganisms/bacteria that help digest the carbohydrates that are found in fruits.
In other words, ferrets simply don’t have the capacity to digest fruits. Anything that contains complex carbohydrates, sugar, fiber, or is dairy-based, can harm your ferret very badly, especially if fed in abundance. You should only feed them high-quality, meat-based ferret food.
More than that, fruits contain sugars that are completely unnecessary for their bodies but are bad for them and their sensitive teeth. Feeding them anything that is not meat can easily get them out of shape.
If your sick little furry friend needs them, your vet might recommend you to feed it apple, melon, or banana, but only in very small quantities. You might even be able to use them as treats. You’ll also have to remove the skins of the fruits them cut them up into thin slices.
Ferrets have thin intestinal passages and if the food is not cut into small pieces, it can cause a blockage. This is why it’s also recommended to cut their meat into tiny pieces as well.
Are Vegetables Better For Ferrets?
Vegetables might seem a little better for ferrets and are often more recommended by vets than fruits are. However, it’s the same discussion. The lack of a cecum makes digesting the complex carbohydrates found in most vegetables an almost impossible job.
If you feed your ferrets the wrong food, you could cause them some unexpected diseases that are only discovered in the last stages. You also might not be able to tell when you’re ferret is in pain as they tend to sleep most of the time. This is why you should only get ferrets if you have the time to keep an eye on them most of the time.
When it comes to feeding your ferret vegetables, you should always follow the vet’s instructions. This usually means never feeding them whole and raw vegetables. You can boil potatoes or carrots and mash them extremely well before each meal.
More than that, you should always mix the mashed vegetable with lots and lots of chunks of meat. You might also be recommended to use a very small portion of mashed vegetables and only feed this mix to your ferret once a week.
If you don’t mash it extremely well, your ferret will be in pain while it’s trying to digest it. If it’s properly mashed, it will be able to process it a lot easier and flush it out pretty quickly, without causing any harm. But again, this should only be done if it’s recommended by the vet. Otherwise, stick to the carnivorous diet.
It’s important to always keep in mind that fruits and vegetables just don’t usually contain what your ferrets need, and what they do, they can safely get it from other healthier ferret food sources.
Possible Health Issues If You Feed Ferrets Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits have high carbohydrate content and if they’re fed to ferrets they can cause excessive production of glucose in the blood. This can slowly lead to insulinoma, which is a rare type of beta-cell cancer that happens in their pancreas.
Vegetables are just as dangerous as they contain their own vegetable protein, which ferrets can’t digest either. If they eat too many vegetables they can develop other diseases as well. This includes bladder stones, gastroenteritis, fertility problems, and even skin ulcerations.
Plant-based foods can cause ferrets urinary tract stones that are made up of the compound Calcium oxalate. This can be found in raw leaves, fleshy fruits, vegetables, and even grains. These are also present in poor-quality cat and dog food. The stones are incredibly painful for ferrets and can be very dangerous, even fatal.
The sugary foods are very bad for a ferret’s teeth, and if anything gets to the pancreas that shouldn’t be there, your ferret might end up with bigger health problems as well, This includes a sever indigestion that causes gastroenteritis, beta-cell disorders that can cause insulinoma and intestinal cancer.
Ferrets should be kept away from apples, grapes, dried form raisins, sweet potatoes, plums, oranges, onions, kiwis, guava, dates, broccoli, blueberries, bananas, spinach, pigeon beans, pinto, raspberries, pears, blackberries, lima beans, lentils, limes, grapefruit, apples, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can ferrets eat Fruit Loops?
Absolutely not. Ferrets have sensitive teeth and anything sweet can cause serious problems for them. Chicken chunks are much better as treats.
What type of fruit can Ferrets eat?
Nothing. You should never feed your ferret fruits unless your vet that’s an expert on ferrets recommends it. Apples, bananas, and melon might be some of the fruits your vet might recommend but they should only be used as treats, once a week or so.
Can I give my ferret a banana?
Bananas are not as harmful as oranges or similar fruits but they don’t benefit your ferret in any way. The banana will come out exactly as it came in since they can’t digest them.