5 Human Foods You Can Safely Feed to Ferrets

A domestic ferret eats a quail egg
© iStock.com/Irina Vasilevskaia

Written by Sammi Caramela

Published: January 16, 2024

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Ferrets are adorable, social creatures that make great pets. If you’ve recently adopted one into your home, you might be wondering about its diet and whether there are any human foods you can safely feed your ferret.

Ferrets are obligate carnivores, meaning they must consume meat to survive. In the wild, a ferret’s main preys include mice, rabbits, and gophers. Domestic ferrets typically eat high-protein kibble but can eat a bit of human food if prepared correctly. 

However, though they might crave certain human snacks, not everything is healthy for the small, loving pet. Avoid feeding your ferret sweets (especially chocolate, which can be fatal), fruits, vegetables, and any dairy product, as these can be harmful. Most human foods can cause blood sugar spikes or digestive distress. In fact, ferrets cannot handle a diet of over 4% fiber.

Many people also will offer their ferrets cat food, believing it provides the same nutrition as ferret food. Though cats and ferrets share a similar diet, their foods are slightly different (ferret food contains more protein) and are not interchangeable. In other words, don’t give your ferret cat food — especially as a replacement.

With all these health concerns in mind, you want to be careful when preparing food for your ferret. To play it safe, it’s best to avoid feeding it anything but ferret-specific food. However, if you’re eager to give yours a taste of cooked meat, you might be in luck. 

Here are five human foods you can safely feed to ferrets.

Disclaimer: These foods do not act as replacements for ferret kibble, as they cannot sufficiently meet all your ferret’s nutritional needs.

1. Cooked Lean Fish

Delicious cooked salmon fish fillets

When preparing lean salmon for your ferret, avoid adding spices.

©Maria_Usp/Shutterstock.com

You can feed your ferret cooked fish from time to time if you prepare it the right way. Most experts recommend sticking to salmon or other lean fish. Be sure to cook the fish all the way through and remove any bones that might be present. Then, chop it up into tiny pieces for your small furry friend. Don’t leave this treat out for too long, as you don’t want it to go bad.

2. Cooked Lean Beef

Freshly Cooked Ground Beef - Can Dogs Eat Ground Beef

Ferrets can eat lean ground beef if it is properly cooked.

©Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock.com

Lean beef is another human food that most ferrets love. Simply prepare your beef as you normally would (sans spices and added ingredients), ensuring it’s fully cooked. Break the beef up into small enough pieces for your ferret and offer it as a tasty treat.

3. Cooked Lean Chicken

deboned chicken

When feeding cooked chicken to your ferret, make sure it does not contain any bones.

©Collinquint21/Shutterstock.com

Chicken is a popular human food you can also feed to ferrets in small portions. However, make sure you thoroughly cook your chicken (as well done as you would for yourself, ensuring it reaches at least 165° F), as they often carry diseases. Additionally, cut the meat into teeny bite-sized pieces so your ferret doesn’t choke.

Avoid feeding your ferret cold or pre-cooked chicken from the store, as it might contain other ingredients or additives that could be harmful.

4. Cooked Lean Turkey

The bones of a holiday turkey dinner

Lean turkey without added spices or ingredients can be a great treat for your ferret.

©Jennifer McCallum/iStock via Getty Images

Another human food option for ferrets is cooked low-fat turkey. However, be sure to avoid added oils, spices, and other ingredients that might cause your ferret to experience digestive distress or other health concerns. Also, only add turkey to your ferret’s diet as an occasional snack, not a reliable source of protein. Make sure it’s cut up small enough for your ferret to safely consume.

5. Pureed Meat Baby Food

Jars of baby food

Make sure the baby food does not contain additives or toxic ingredients before feeding it to your ferret.

©Gayvoronskaya_Yana/Shutterstock.com

Many ferret owners will feed the pets baby food, as it’s often soft, mushy, and easy to swallow. However, a lot of the ingredients — such as pureed fruits, vegetables, and rice — in baby food are unsafe for ferrets to consume. One type of safe baby food, however, is pureed meat baby food, as it’s a nearly liquidized, crushed source of meat and protein. Just make sure to avoid any dangerous additives.

Feeding Your Ferret

Now that we covered the human foods you can safely feed your ferret, let’s talk about some ingredients you should avoid. As mentioned earlier, never feed your ferret dairy, chocolate, sweets, fruits, or vegetables. Also stear clear of any food (even kibble) that contains seeds, nuts, or dried fruit like raisins. 

You should feed your ferret small meals multiple times per day (around six to eight) to accommodate their high metabolic rate and short digestive tract. Many professionals recommend making food available to your ferret all day long so they never go too long without it. Others believe you can leave a decent portion of food (and water) out once per day and check it every 12 hours.


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About the Author

Sammi is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering cats, nature, symbolism, and spirituality. Sammi is a published author and has been writing professionally for six+ years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Writing Arts and double minors in Journalism and Psychology. A proud New Jersey resident, Sammi loves reading, traveling, and doing yoga with her little black cat, Poe.

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