Fat Ferret: How to Know When You’re Feeding Your Ferret Too Much

Written by Katelynn Sobus
Updated: March 31, 2022
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It’s been found that ferrets eat twice as much per km of body weight when compared to cats! That’s a lot of food, but how do you know when you’re overfeeding your ferret? Ferrets typically become overweight due to health problems or lack of free roam time outside of their cage.

In this article, we’ll talk about how often ferrets should eat, what to feed them, and more.

How Often do Ferrets Need to be Fed?

Ferrets have fast metabolisms that require them to eat 5-7% of their body weight daily. This should be broken into 6-8 meals throughout the day.

Can You Free-Feed a Ferret?

Ferret Teeth - Wily Ferret

Ferrets should eat high-quality ferret food with meat as the first ingredient.

©Olga Pysarenko/Shutterstock.com

Ferrets need to eat often and aren’t like other pets who might eat just two to three times a day. The easiest way to keep them fed is to offer constant access to food. So long as their diet is healthy, you avoid feeding an abundance of treats, and you don’t overfeed, free-feeding is just fine.

Ferrets don’t commonly overeat, though it can happen. It’s most common when they’re fed an improper diet or too many treats!

What Should Ferrets Eat Daily?

Ferrets should be fed high-quality ferret food every day. The primary ingredient should be meat, and the food should contain no more than 4% fiber. Corn, wheat, and other fillers should be avoided to your ability.

Ferrets are obligate carnivores, meaning that they thrive on a diet of pure meat. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are difficult for them to digest. The best ferret food contains at least 20% fat and 30% protein.

Can You Overfeed a Ferret?

You’re more likely to provide your ferret with poor nutrition, or even underfeed, than to overfeed them. However, it can happen. Usually, it’s when you give your ferret too many treats, or perhaps ferrets living together eat unequally—with one taking a portion of the other’s food.

You can help prevent this by limiting treats and feeding your ferret in fun ways that require some work, such as scatter feeding or puzzle toys!

Watch your ferrets to ensure each is eating the right amount. Weighing them regularly can help determine if they are over or underweight.

What is the Average Weight of a Ferret?

Ferret (Mustela Putorius Furo) - standing against white background

The average ferret weight ranges from 1.5 to 5 pounds.

©Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

Female ferrets weigh 1.5 to 3 pounds, while males weigh 3 to 5 pounds. This is a bit of a range, but you should be okay so long as your ferret falls into it. A little larger might be okay, depending on your ferret’s size.

Speak to your veterinarian before changing your ferret’s diet. Each ferret is an individual, healthy at a different size, and only a professional can tell you for sure.

How do I Know my Ferret is Overweight?

The best way to know if your ferret is overweight is to visit an exotic pet veterinarian. Ask them what a healthy weight for your ferret should look like! Some signs of an overweight ferret include a belly that touches the floor and a fat roll beneath the chin. Your ferret may be less agile and grow tired quickly.

You can also monitor your ferret’s weight at home using a scale. This will help you notice weight gain or loss quickly, which can help you and your veterinarian diagnose health problems early.

Is it Okay if my Ferret is Fat?

Unfortunately, fat ferrets face some health risks. At first, you’re likely to notice less mobility. Your ferret might move more slowly and get tired easily. Over time, they may feel pain in their back and joints and begin to dislike handling. Joint pain is the most common thing you’ll see in fat ferrets. Other conditions can cause a ferret to gain weight, such as hypothyroidism.

Another common cause for overweight ferrets is lack of exercise. If you keep your ferret in their cage most of the day, this can cause weight gain and other issues like depression.

Ferrets need a large, multi-story cage to sleep in and to be contained when you cannot supervise them. However, they also need at least six hours of free roam time every single day. If you cannot provide this, please consider responsibly rehoming your ferret to a friend, family member, or animal rescue.

What about Treats?

Ferret Teeth - ferret eating a banana

Fruits, vegetables, and grains aren’t suitable for ferrets. The best treats are unseasoned meats.

©Zanna Pesnina/Shutterstock.com

Treats are okay occasionally but should always be meat-based. Don’t feed your ferret table scraps, as many human foods can cause health problems.

If you’d like your ferret to eat what you’re eating, consider preparing a small piece of unseasoned meat and offering it to them! This is healthy and can help the two of you bond. Chicken is the best meat to feed, and fish should be avoided completely.

Avoid fruits, vegetables, grains, and processed foods. Too much salt, sugar, or seasoning can make your ferret ill.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Couperfield/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Katelynn Sobus is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on pets including dogs, cats, and exotics. She has been writing about pet care for over five years. Katelynn currently lives in Michigan with her seven senior rescue cats.

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