Ferrets thrive on whole prey in the wild as they are obligate carnivores. This is also why many ferret owners choose to keep their pets on a raw diet, for which their body was build in the first place. This includes whole mice, chicks, small birds, etc.
In this article, we’ll talk about the diet of a wild ferret and how it’s different than the one of a domestic ferret.
What Do Wild Ferrets Eat?
Ferrets are made to consume meat and their digestive system hasn’t evolved much from that of their ancestors. This means that a wild ferret’s diet has remained consistent throughout the years ever since they appeared. Despite being incredibly adorable creatures, ferrets are natural-born killers and they’re very good at it.
In the wild, a ferret can eat anything from mice, small birds, other creature’s babies, to rabbits, turtles, bigger birds, and even snakes if they have to. They are very good hunters equipped with excellent low-light vision and powerful teeth. Their sense of smell is also incredibly evolved, which helps them identify prey from very long distances.
Generally, wild ferrets stay hidden in the burrows made by rabbits or other similar creatures. They tend to eat the burrow-makers and move in. They also live in groups (called “Businesses”), which makes getting rid of a few hares very easy. This is also why there were domesticated in the first place. A few ferrets can get the rabbits out of their burrows very easily and the human can catch them or shoot them a lot easier.
Ferrets are also very protective of their young, which means they will stand up to pretty much any predator that tries their luck with them. And if they win the encounter, they will often eat them as well. This includes snakes or other similar animals that love ferret babies. Even the animals from the same family as the ferret can be a threat as well, which are weasels, minks, martens, etc.
What Kind of Meat Do They Consume In The Wild
Ferrets are built to consume meat and they can have a very hard time digesting plant matter. They also have to eat pretty often, which is why they resort to eating pretty much anything they catch. You should also keep in mind that they can eat their entire prey without any issues.
Eating whole prey means eating the entire creature, including the fur, bones, intestines, head, stomach content, feathers, etc. Their stomach is strong enough to break down everything. But if the prey just recently ate fruits or vegetables, the ferret might get an upset stomach until its digestive system can deal with the contents of the stomach as well.
Wild ferrets tend to prefer rabbits as they are big and easy for them to catch, but they gladly eat possums, hedgehogs, prairie dogs, and various types of rodents. They tend to thrive in areas that are infested with mice and rats as well. And while rats can put one hell of a battle, ferrets rarely back down.
Ferrets are also known to steal whole adult chickens, ducks, geese, and other farm birds they can get their paws on. They may look small and fragile, but they can carry a whole chicken at incredible speeds. And once the bird is taken, you probably won’t find it again as they are hoarders and they keep their stash very well-hidden.
Wild ferrets are also quick and aggressive enough to take down a cat, especially if it’s a younger or a free-roaming house cat that doesn’t have the claws to defend itself properly.
Feeding Whole Pray to Pet Ferrets – How to Adopt a Wild Ferret Diet
Raw diets are a bit of a controversy within the ferret-owning community. There are some valid concerns about doing it the right way, which include making sure the meat is salmonella-free and 100% safe. But many owners just can’t seem to accept the fact that the adorable little ball of fur that loves kissing might also be a cold killer that needs raw meat and whole prey to truly thrive, and not just live.
And this can make the transition a bit difficult, especially if you love smaller animals as well. But with time and practice, anyone can learn how to adapt a raw diet for their pet ferret. The good news is that you don’t have to feed it live prey and watch the poor rodent fight for its life every time you feed your ferret. All you need to do is get a separate small fridge and microwave.
You can buy chicks, mice, and various parts of a chicken in bulk then simply freeze them. When it’s time to feed your ferret, you can just defrost different prey each meal and let your pet enjoy it. If you use different parts of a chicken and not whole prey, make sure you’re paring different parts with one another and that you’re not just feeding everything separately.
This means pairing a bit of skin with a bone, and the liver, then the feet with the heart, and the head, etc. It’s important to make sure the meal is varied enough. You should also keep in mind that a raw diet also calls for daily teeth brushing, but raw bones help a lot as well.
Particularities of a Ferret’s Digestive System
A ferret’s digestive system is very short. This means that its body only has a very short amount of time to get all the nutrients it needs from every meal. It’s very important to make sure that every single meal and treat that goes into your ferret is nutritious in one way or another. And despite your best efforts, you might have to use a few supplements from time to time as well.
Feeding a ferret food that it can’t digest can create some serious problems. They can experience a lot of pain and they will end up with health issues simply because of bad-quality food. A ferret’s digestive system includes a simple digestive tract, a simple stomach, duodenum, jejuno-ileum, colon, and rectum. It’s very important to keep in mind that these creatures lack a caecum.