Making the Switch – Step 6

Step 6: Bones

Now it is time to cross the final big step in converting your ferret to an all-raw diet – bones! You will need:

  • Hammer/Mallet
  • Strong scissors or poultry shears
  • Sharp, Sturdy Knife

OR

  • An Ulu Knife can replace all of the above in one tool

AND

  • Small, edible bones (we will use chicken wings for the purposes of this article. Other great options include bones like cornish game hen, rabbit, quail, pheasant, any small poultry, and poultry wing tips, etc).

Start by smashing the chicken wings with a hammer or mallet until the bones are fully pulverized and relatively well smashed into the meat. Then, using the scissors/shears and knife, cut the pulpy mass into small chunks, about the size of the meat chunks your ferret will eat or smaller. Mix these chunks into their regular meat.

You may want to Scruff N Sample a small piece of meaty marrow so that your ferret can taste it. Marrow is loaded with nutrients and (once they realize it is edible) most animals will go crazy for it. Again, you can use tricks like covering the bony pulp in soup or oil (gradually decreasing these once they begin to eat the bones), Scruff N Sample and hand feeding, etc until your ferret begins to recognize the bones as food.

When they will eat the small pieces begin to gradually increase the size of the bones by smashing them less and less.(Try to minimize mid-sized chunks that can be swallowed whole but are big enough to be difficult to pass). Eventually they will have built up the jaw strength and taste for whole bones.

Keep in mind that larger bones such as leg-bones should be cracked open enough to give them a starting point (usually 1-2 hits with a hammer is sufficient). Some ferrets can eat bones as large as pork ribs, and some can eat entire turkey necks while others will only eat the smaller bony projections and the inner marrow of the vertebrae. Get to know your ferrets and their bone-eating capacity as you will need to adjust your diet menu (see Step 8) to accommodate their eating habits and ensure that they receive enough edible bone. Large bones such as beef and large pork bones should not be fed. Feeding sliced large bones in which the marrow is easily accessible is okay, but monitor your ferrets closely as chewing on large bones can crack teeth.

Be sure to remove all uneaten bone pieces after 48 hours. Otherwise, the bones will become dry and brittle making them a choking and poking hazard. Dry bones are similar to cooked bones in that they will splinter rather than breaking into clean edges.

All that Larger weight-bearing bones cannot be eaten (even by adult ferrets) and do not count towards the "edible bone" content of your ferret's diet. Photo Credit: Heather Downie