As I saw a video of squirrels eating strawberries, I immediately went to the fridge to devour a fresh strawberry myself. And then I saw my pet ferret. Immediately, my mind went into thinking, Can Ferrets Eat Strawberries?
I wasn’t sure if I could give my furry friend these delicious strawberries, as I had been warned by other ferret parents that they should follow a strict diet routine. And indeed, my ferret had an upset stomach after eating grapes!
So, I started my research, asked various ferret parents, looked up at various books to get a definite answer regarding Can Ferrets Eat Strawberries?
Read on to know more.
Can Ferrets Eat Strawberries?
Ferrets should not eat strawberries, even though they can. It will cause more harm than good to your furry friend. Now you may ask why?
The reason is that ferrets are obligate carnivores. This means that their main diet should only consist of high meat protein and fat. Their digestive tracts are not developed in a way that they can process fruits, definitely not strawberries.
Dried strawberry too is difficult to digest for ferrets.
Now that we are discussing the digestive tract, you need to know why their digestive system is not capable of digesting fruits, even though fruits are a great source of various nutrients.
Digestive System of Your Ferret Lacks Caecum
You might be surprised to know that your ferret needs food 6 to 8 times a day. Not because it is super hungry all the time, but because they have an extremely simple digestive system and a high metabolic rate.
This simple digestive tract is devoid of the caecum, which is important for producing the bacteria that break down the complex carbohydrates and digest them. It only consists of the stomach, duodenum, jejuno-ileum, colon, and rectum.
Without a caecum, your ferret will not be able to break down the complex carbohydrates. Now, let’s discuss what exactly these complex carbohydrates mean.
What Are Complex Carbohydrates?
Complex carbohydrates are long and complex chains of sugar with high fiber content. The digestive system requires a longer time to break these long chains and digest complex carbohydrates.
Strawberries are rich in complex carbohydrates, hence making them a bad choice for ferrets.
Nutrient Value of Strawberries
Taking into consideration 100 grams of strawberries, it contains:
- Protein : 0.7 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Carbs: 7.7 grams
- Sugar: 4.9 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
Your ferret needs a diet consisting of 30 to 40% protein and 15 to 20% fat. Both of which are almost negligible contents if we consider strawberries.
And on top of it, strawberries are loaded with fiber, complex carbohydrates, and sugar, which are a big NO for your furry friend.
So, taking into consideration the stark difference between the nutrients required by your ferret and the nutrients provided by strawberries, you shouldn’t serve strawberries to your ferret.
You can provide strawberries as a treat to your ferret once in a while, but we recommend that you give your ferret this specially designed ferret treat which will not have any harmful effects on your furball.
Why Are Strawberries Harmful For Ferrets? Top 6 Reasons
Below are the main reasons why a delicious fruit like strawberry is harmful to your pet ferret.
1. High Sugar Content
As per the studies, strawberries have a sugar content of 4.9 grams per 100 grams. This sugar flavor can definitely be a delight for your ferret’s taste buds, but definitely not for his delicate and small digestive system.
Now that you are aware of the missing caecum in ferrets, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your ferret cannot process and digest a lot of sugar. If the sugar content rises in your furry friend’s body, the blood sugar level can also spike up. This is not a good thing at all!
High blood sugar levels can cause cancer of the beta cell in your ferret’s pancreases, also known as Insulinoma.
2. Cause of Various Diseases in Ferrets
The occurrences of cancer are quite common in ferrets. The most common types of cancers include Insulinoma, Adrenal Cancer, and Skin tumors. An improper ferret diet, with high sugar content and low protein and fat content is a primary cause of these diseases.
Apart from this, improper diet can also cause hair fall in ferrets, which can lead to hairballs in ferrets. Just check out these great soft chews for hairball support in ferrets.
Thus, taking into consideration your ferret’s best interest, you should avoid strawberries.
3. Adverse Effect on Ferret’s Reproductive System
As per the research, a high nitrate content can lead to adverse effects on the reproductive capability of animals.
Strawberries have a high nitrate content, especially the wild strawberry. The nitrate content ranges from 2.50 to 57.30 mg KNO3/kg. Check out this study for more information.
Thus, feeding strawberries to your furry friend can harm the reproduction ability, and if you possess a female ferret, it can also adversely affect the baby ferret. We are sure you wouldn’t want this, right?
So, why don’t you check out the best ferret foods here?
4. Dental Problems in Ferrets
When is sugar good for anyone’s teeth? Your ferret is no different. The high sugar content in strawberries is bound to harm your furball’s teeth.
So, always follow a proper dental hygiene regime for your ferret, if you plan to feed strawberries occasionally as treats to your furry friend, which we do not encourage!
Take a look at this toothpaste that you can use.
Also, take a look at this amazing video if you want to know how to brush your ferret’s teeth.
5. Urinary Tract Infection and Stones
One of the main reasons for urinary tract infections and stones in ferrets is the accumulation of a compound called calcium oxalate. Calcium oxalate is formed due to plant-based proteins, mostly found in plant-based foods, like fruits. The fleshy fruits are high in this plant-based protein.
Stones can also cause inflammation in your ferret’s urinary tract.
Without any doubt, your ferret will be in a lot of pain and discomfort if it suffers from urinary tract infections and stones. You should immediately consult a vet and treat it, else it can also prove to be fatal for your furry friend.
Watch out for the below clinical symptoms of urinary tract infection and stones in your furball, and immediately consult a vet, and stop feeding strawberries to your ferret, not even in the form of treats!
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargic behavior of your ferret
- Difficulty, pain, and discomfort in passing urine
- Extreme frequencies of urination. Either too much or too less
- Cloudy or unclear urine
6. Intestinal Problems
Apart from causing Insulinoma, a rare type of beta-cell cancer in your ferret’s pancreas, strawberries can also be responsible for causing gastroenteritis. This can cause indigestion, weight loss, and diarrhea in your pet ferret.
If your ferret eats strawberries for the majority of the meals, or as frequent treats, in extreme cases, this can also lead to intestinal cancer.
Another concern of feeding strawberries to your ferret is that he might choke up on the big chunks of the fruit, causing intestinal blockage. Always look out for signs like vomiting, constipation, and loss of appetite in your ferret.
Can Ferrets Eat Strawberries In Moderation?
Ferrets can eat strawberries in moderation. You should try to give only a little piece of this juicy fruit to your furry friend rather than a whole strawberry. Feeding your ferret a whole strawberry can lead to diarrhea.
You should avoid serving strawberries regularly, and should serve them only on special occasions as treats, or if you are trying to train your ferret for anything or maybe trying to discipline your ferret.
Can Ferrets Die From Eating Strawberries?
You definitely cannot ignore the adverse effects of eating strawberries on your ferret’s health. However, this does not mean that your ferret will die by eating a few chunks of strawberries.
If given in excess, the sugar content in strawberries can lead to various health issues in your ferrets, some serious ones like cancer and tumor, intestinal blockage, and stones.
These diseases, if not treated at the earliest can sometimes prove to be fatal for your ferret.
Thus, ferrets cannot die from eating strawberries, but strawberries can definitely be a reason for other fatal diseases.
Warning Signs to Look Out for After Feeding Strawberries to Ferrets
If you have served your ferret with some strawberry, as a treat or simply because he likes it, you should always lookout for any signs of warning.
1. A Choking Ferret
With a small digestive tract, it is possible that your ferret might choke up on a big chunk of strawberry. Hence, it is always advisable to serve very small pieces of the fruit to your ferret.
If you see your ferret choking, follow the technique shown in the below video to provide relief to your ferret.
2. Unusual Ferret Poop
If you are introducing strawberries to your ferret, you should look out for any abnormalities in the poop. Observing your furry friend’s poop can give you insight into something wrong with his body.
If your ferret is unable to digest strawberry, the poop might appear grainy, seedy, or sticky with mucous. Sometimes, a watery poop may also appear. This indicates digestive problems in your ferret.
In this situation, you should stop feeding strawberries to your ferret, as his body is unable to digest and process this fruit.
3. Showing Symptoms of Diseases
Ferrets are at a high risk of Insulinoma if you provide them with strawberries very often. It can also cause organ failure for the intestine and liver.
Always watch out for the clinical signs of Insulinoma as listed below:
Immediately stop feeding this juicy fruit to your ferret, if you spot any of the above warning signs.
Can Ferrets Eat Fruits?
Even though fruits are not considered as a part of an ideal diet plan for your ferret, some fruits cause less harm than others.
You can provide the above fruits to your ferrets, but remember, they should be given only occasionally or as treats.
You should avoid grapes as they are extremely toxic for ferrets. They can also cause kidney failure in your furry friend.
Ideal Ferret Diet
An ideal ferret diet consists of meat and lots of it! Below are the best raw meats to include in your ferret’s diet:
- Raw bones
Ferret safe cat foods, kitten food, chicken baby food, and high-quality kibble can also be provided.
You should avoid feeding your ferret with the following items:
FAQs on Can Ferrets Eat Strawberries?
1. Can I Give My Ferret a Banana?
You can give a small portion of banana to your ferret occasionally or as a reward. Since bananas are loaded with potassium, vitamin B6, manganese, and copper, they provide some nutritional value to your ferret.
Magnesium also promotes the healthy bone growth of your ferret.
2. What Fruits Can Ferrets Eat?
Fruits like banana, apple, and raisins can be fed to your ferret. Most of the ferrets love raisins and take their necessary dietary fiber from raisins.
You should always try to avoid acidic fruits high in vitamin C, like lemon, grapes, pomegranates, as they can cause ulcers in your ferret.
3. What Are Good Snacks for Ferrets?
Some good snacking options for ferrets include cooked eggs, either boiled or scrambled, ferret-safe cat food, bits and pieces of meat like lamb, chicken, or turkey.
However, avoid serving bacon bits to your ferret, as that has a high salt and sugar content.
In conclusion, even though the answer to can ferrets eat strawberries is a YES, it is NOT RECOMMENDED at all. No matter how tasty they are, Strawberries will always do more harm than good to your ferret.
Lacking the ability to process high sugar content food, your ferret is at risk of indigestion and many other ailments if fed with strawberries frequently.
Hence, it is best to stick to the meat-based protein diet. It will fulfill all the nutritional requirements of your ferret.