There was a time, not too long ago, when there were no commercially available ferret foods. Cat foods where your only choice! Today there are a number of choices available for the ferret owner. Some good, some not so good. The question is which one to pick? My recommendation is not to pick just one food. Instead, pick three high quality foods and mix them up. It’s a practice followed by most small scale breeders, ferret shelters, and many experienced ferret owners. The main reason ferret shelters and small ferret breeders (the mega breeders obviously feed their own brand of food) feed a mixture is so that when the ferrets are sold or adopted out the transition to the new home will be easier on the ferret.
Ferrets are notorious for not liking to switch foods, especially if they have only been fed one food in the past. If a ferret owner adds a new ferret to the group, the new ferret is the one that will likely need to have its diet changed. If the new ferret has been fed a mixture of common ferret foods in the past it makes the transition easier. While the strong reason for shelters and breeders to mix foods is to help ease the ferrets transition into it’s new home, there are good reasons for a individual to feed their ferrets a mixture as well. Ferrets typically are not keen on changing foods. The problem is that ferrets fed one particular food will have a hard time if that exact food is no longer available. This could be due to:
- A formulation change by the manufacturer.
- A bad food lot resulting in food that tastes bad.
- Your ferrets food becoming unavailable due to the nearby stores no longer carrying it or you moving to an area where the food is not sold.
- The manufacturer stops making the food or even goes out of business.
- Finally, in light of all the recent pet food scares your ferrets food is recalled and not available.
For these reasons mixing foods just makes sense, even for the individual ferret owner. When choosing foods it is a good idea to consult one of the ferret food comparison charts available on the Internet. One good one the MD Ferret Paws Foods Chart. It lists many of the ferret and cat foods available and rates them for their nutritional value. Some high quality cat foods rank very high, even better than some ferret foods. For this reason adding a high quality cat food to the mix really is a good idea. Quality dry cat food is nutritious and has the added benefit of being easier to obtain than ferret food. In some areas quality ferret food is not readily available, requiring it to be mail ordered or obtained over the Internet. Having a ferret used to cat food provides a safety net should you run out of ferret food.
Finally, mixing foods provides a little variety for the ferrets and makes future food changes easier. A mixture of food means every bite does not taste the same. And while they don’t seem to complain about eating the same thing day after day, the ferrets ancestors in the wild would never eat such a steady diet of just one food. By mixing foods, you are only changing a portion of the diet. It much easier to introduce a new food or formulation as improved ferret foods come on the market.
So there you have it. While it is ok to just feed one type of food, it really makes sense to feed more than one brand of food. So go ahead, loosen up, and mix it up a bit for the fuzzies. They’ll get some variety in their diet and you’ll have the piece of mind that you’ll always be able obtain food that they are used to and will readily eat.