For a step-by-step breakdown, you can complete our “Switch Starter” course
Switching a ferret’s diet can be a time consuming and frustrating process, but it is well worth the end results!
Ferrets imprint on their food at a young age. Between 4-6 months of age, ferret kits will eat almost anything you put in their food bowl (and some things you don’t)! As they reach 6-9 months of age however, they become more solidly imprinted on their foods. For this reason it is important to offer young kits a variety of foods that you may want to feed them in the future so that they become exposed and open to the variety. Older ferrets who are firmly imprinted on a specific food can be more difficult to switch – but don’t despair! Even the most stubborn ferrets can be switched onto a new diet.
This series of brief articles highlights a basic but effective method for switching your ferrets to a raw foods diet in a gradual manner. Keep in mind that this process is different for every ferret and some may need to take the switch slower than others, while some may take to it right away. Additionally, there are many different methods, tricks, and approaches to making the switch – no single method is necessarily the “best;” different approaches work differently for different people and ferrets. This article outlines just one of many approaches.
Dealing with Frustration:
We commonly hear frustrated ferret owners complaining that “I tried raw but they wouldn’t eat it.” Keep in mind that your ferret has NO IDEA that raw meat is food. Imagine if I put a bowl of crickets in front of you and said “eat up!” Almost anyone raised in Western culture would think I must be nuts – crickets aren’t food! Yet crickets are a great source of protein and are a staple diet in many countries – we simply haven’t been raised to view crickets as food. Similarly, a ferret imprinted on kibble has to LEARN that raw is not only edible, but delicious. This takes time, patience, and above all – persistence. As long as YOU are determined to switch your ferret, they WILL be switched.
**NOTE: Ferrets should not be transitioned while pregnant or nursing without guidance by an experienced mentor and supplementation. Pregnant jills and young kits require consistently high levels of calcium for proper development.