I was sitting on my balcony, eating bananas, cut into thin slices out of a bowl when my adorable ferret Mr. Nibbles, walked up to me and gave me a look. It was probably hinting me to feed some banana to it. I couldn’t resist its gaze and found myself shoving a few pieces of the banana toward it before it dawned on me that what is delicious and healthy for me might actually be harmful for my ferret.
So, I pulled my hand away to the utter disappointment of my ferret and started making a laundry list of foods fit for ferrets. Since I love my furry little pet, I decided to share my knowledge with you guys out there who are like me and are concerned for the well-being of your pets.
Do Ferrets Need Fruits?
First off, ferrets are true carnivores or, as they are often called, obligate carnivores.
This means that foods rich in carbohydrates and fibers have next to zero nutritional value for them. Obligate carnivores thrive on anything related to an animal, starting with its meat and going as far as its kidneys and offal.
As they can get all their nutrition from meat, they don’t need to take fruits rich in nutrients.
So Should I Feed a Banana to My Ferret?
No, no, and no.
Before I delve deeper into the matter, let’s look at some facts about the digestive system of a ferret:
- Ferrets don’t have a cecum
- Ferrets have a short digestive tract
Absence of Cecum
Ferrets have no cecum to digest complex carbohydrates such as fiber. Feeding a banana to your ferret would mean giving it something which it cannot digest.
Short Digestive Tract
Due to the short digestive tracts, carnivores such as ferrets cannot absorb nutrients. This means that all the nutrients present in the banana would go to waste or, worse, make your pet sick.
Why Not Bananas?
Bananas are a fruit containing a high amount of carbohydrates and fiber, which can be fatal for ferrets. Since these creatures do not digest complex carbohydrates, too many bananas can probably make them sick.
Furthermore, any fruit containing a high amount of sugar can be harmful to ferrets since it can cause life-threatening diseases such as insulinoma. Think of it like diabetes. Insulinoma is a cancer of the pancreas which proves to be a fatal condition for a ferret.
Similarly, feeding bananas to your ferret may lead to other diseases such as lymphoma and adrenal disease, both of which are equally deadly as insulinoma and require medical attention.
Besides, eating too many bananas can clog up the intestines of your pet, putting its life at risk. Bananas can even upset the stomach of your little baby. Therefore, don’t even consider giving a banana to your buddy even as a treat.
As bananas have high sugar content, they can also cause dental problems in your buddies.
It is natural for ferrets to be eating meat out in the wild, but it is not natural for them to eat food which is full of sugar. Too much sugar can lead to tooth decay and other less severe teeth problems. In order to get rid of dental problems, you would have to put in extra effort for brushing your ferret’s teeth.
My Ferret Ate a Banana. What Now?
There is no need to fret if this is its first time. However, do make sure it does not become a habit. Usually, animals like ferret have a knack for sweet and sugary food, but this does not mean that it is good for their health. You need to be super careful about your ferret’s diet.
Be on the lookout for food laced with sugar to ensure your pet only eats food which is healthy.
When Should I Be Concerned?
Depression and unresponsiveness are some of the main indicators of diseases such as insulinoma. Other symptoms to look out for are a loss of appetite, lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting.
A combination of these symptoms is said to surface when diseases such as lymphoma, adrenal disease or insulinoma hit a ferret. In such cases, please make an appointment with your vet.
How Much Banana Would Be Okay to Feed a Ferret?
While most experts on this subject will outright reject the idea of ever feeding a banana to your ferret, some vets claim it is okay to give bananas in minute quantities.
But the American Ferret Association are against the idea of feeding bananas, or any other fruits and vegetables as they are full of carbohydrates.
So I would say that no banana is the best.
Treats Besides Banana to Give to Your Ferret
A good diet for a ferret would be one which contains high amounts of proteins and calories with a low amount of fiber. Ideally, the diet of a ferret must contain 35-45% protein, 18-30% fat, 7% ash, and only 2% fiber.
There are many other ways to treat your ferret. Below is a list of treat that you can try feeding to your pet.
Though the list is actually long, I’ve only mentioned a few here:
- Raw or cooked chicken, beef or turkey
- Coconut oil
- Baby food containing chicken or turkey
- Insects such as crickets
- Eggs (raw, hard-boiled or scrambled)
- Pre-killed or frozen whole prey animals like rodents or chicks
- Bones, hearts, livers, kidneys and organs of animals
Ferrets are an extremely cute species that need your care. Feeding food that is healthy for them will certainly increase their life expectancy and boost their overall well-being.
Take great care when feeding your ferret as you would want to make sure it stays around a long while, don’t you?