Can I Give My Ferret a Bone?

Ferrets are considered to be intelligent animals and can learn new skills quickly. They are also playful and affectionate. If you are a new ferret owner your probably wondered if it is ok to give your ferret a bone. After all, ferrets are strict meat-eaters so why would they not want bones?

The answer to your question “Can I give my Ferret a Bone” is Yes! There is nothing wrong with giving your furry friend a bone. A raw bone that is! Do not let them have cooked bones! 

Why are Cooked Bones bad for Ferrets?

Once a bone is cooked it dries out and can splinter. The problem comes when the bone breaks off your ferrets´ mouth or becomes lodged between teeth causing pain. Raw and meaty bones are ideal for your ferret.

One thing to be aware of is that the bone needs to be large enough so your ferret is not able to put it in its mouth as a whole! Additionally, some ferrets (especially older ones) have dental problems, check with your vet if your ferret can have bones before you start feeding him/her bones.

How do I know What Size Bone to get?

As said above, make sure it’s big enough, so your furry friend is not tempted to try to swallow it as a whole! A good example of the “perfect” bone would be beef bones. Cut into larger pieces of at least 4 inches long and one or two inches wide, they make a perfect treat and will keep them busy for some time. 

Bones are a great source of calcium which helps build strong bones and teeth. Bones should always be fed separately from other foods because they contain high levels of phosphorus which could cause kidney stones.

What about treats made from chicken wings?

Chicken wing bones are smaller but softer. Ferrets that are used to eating raw meat can also have chicken wings as a treat. 

Ferret Diet

beef bones raw and meaty

The perfect diet for your ferret should consist of at least 35% protein and 20% fat. Ferrets that were bred for larger pet stores mainly live on kibble. And while dry food can provide a ferret with everything it needs (nutrition) it is important to remember that this type of food does not offer any additional variety to your ferrets’ meal plan. Just imagine you would have to eat oatmeal every single day of your life!! 

Ferrets that are bought from reputable breeders are often already used to eating raw meat. Did you know that by the age of approximately six months, your ferrets´ preferences regarding foods are set? 

If a ferret never had raw meat, it can be quite a challenge to introduce it to such an unusual taste. It might take several weeks until he accepts his first piece of raw meat. But once he has accepted it, there is no going back. Your ferret will love it and won’t stop asking for more!

Raw Meat vs Cooked Food

Cooking kills most bacteria found in meats. However, cooking also reduces the number of vitamins and nutrition. Ferrets do not need their food to be cooked. Make sure to buy fresh meat of good quality and feed it raw. That´s it! 

If you decide to feed your ferret canned wet food then choose an appropriate brand based on their age and health status – and make sure to read the ingredients list! You do not want to see any starch, sugar, vegetables, fillers or fiber added. I personally would avoid feeding canned foods – but in the case of an emergency, they are still ok… 

Meat that is good for Ferrets

Ferrets are not limited to any certain kind of meat. As long as the quality is good, anything goes. Chicken breast, pork chops, lamb shanks, venison steaks, ground turkey, etc. all work just fine. You could even feed them feeder mice or chicks! They are pre-killed and you could freeze and thaw them as a special treat for your furry friend (that is if you are ok with frozen mice in your freezer…). 

What do Ferrets eat in the WIld?

Good question. Well, first you have to know that our beloved pet-ferret is NOT a wild animal! It has been bred by us humans some 2000 years ago. So we don’t really know what these little guys ate before domestication. We only know that they probably lived off small rodents, insects, reptiles, birds, etc. 

So I think it is safe to assume, that if a ferret would run away and end up in the wild, it would go for exactly those animals. 

What about the Black-Footed-Ferrets?

Yes, you are right. There is one population of wild ferrets (they are relatives to our pet ferrets but not exactly the same) that lives in Northern America. Those relatives of our ferrets mainly hunt prairie dogs. You can read more about them here: 

https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/black-footed-ferret

The Foods your Ferret Should Avoid

Ferrets are obligate carnivores. I said it above – they need meat to thrive and live a healthy life. They are physically not able to process plant matter. In other words, do not let your ferret have vegetables, grains, or fruits!

Vegetables

The fiber in vegetables can lead to bloating, blockage, diarrhea, and constipation. Ferrets are not able to process fiber well. Would they eat grains? Yes, you bet – after all, they are curious and playful creatures. The problem is that they cannot digest this stuff which potentially makes them very sick.

Fruits

Fruits are especially bad because of the sugar they contain. Ferrets are prone to developing diabetes and other insulin-related diseases. Many ferrets suffer from insulinomas (cancer of the pancreatic cells) at some point in their lives – and sugar is thought to be a major causative factor. 

Dairy Products

That’s an easy one. No milk, no yogurt or cheese. Ferrets are lactose intolerant. If they have dairy products they will most likely suffer from bloating, gas, vomiting, and diarrhea.

How often do Ferrets eat?

Ferrets have short digestive tracts, they need a steady supply of food throughout the day. This means that they should get fed 5-8 times per day. Obviously, this depends on some individual factors such as, how old is the ferret, its weight, activity level, health status, etc. But generally speaking, every 2 hours is enough.

If you are not around or at work or something, leave some dry food (kibble) for your hungry furry friend. As said above, provide some variety in your ferrets’ diet. Alternate raw meat, bones, and dry food whenever possible. 

Summary

Can ferrets have bones? Yes – raw bones are good for ferrets. They contain calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, iron, vitamin D3, B12, and protein. Do not feed cooked bones. They may splinter and hurt your little furry friend. Also, make sure the bones are not soo small, so your ferret won’t attempt to swallow it as a whole! Other than that – Bones for ferrets are a good idea, they keep them busy and healthy! 

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