Raw Eggs

Eaten whole eggs are a complete,  and highly nutritious meal. Eggs must support a growing baby, provide them with all of the nutrients they need to grow and develop, and in perfect balance so that they grow healthily. Also, eggs must be extraordinarily efficient at eliminating and recycling waste. This unique environment that eggs must build results in a food that is rich in vital nutrients. Eggs are an excellent addition to your ferret’s diet that can help with coat and skin health, and reduce risk of “hairballs” (bezoars) during shedding season, and can be offered a tasty, healthy treat.

It is important to note that eggs should be fed whole, or whole-whisked (with the whites and yolk fed together). This ensures that your ferrets gets all of the well-balanced nutrients in the egg, and avoids any risk of acquiring a Biotin deficiency (read Raw Egg Safety below). 

While nutrient dense, eggs are also very rich, with a high fat content, and can cause stomach upset if eaten in excess. As such, it is recommended to not exceed one chicken egg per ferret per week. During shedding season, this may be increased to 2-3 eggs per ferret per week as tolerated. 

Offering eggs still in the shell is great stimulation.
Raw egg should be fed whole, with both the yolk and whites fed together.

What about other eggs?

In recent years it has become increasingly popular to feed quail eggs, as they have been cited to be a rich source of antioxidants. They are also a perfectly sized treat for ferrets. You may also have access to duck of goose eggs, and be wondering if and how to feed them. Ferrets can eat any of the above; quail, chicken, duck, and goose eggs can all be offered to your ferret. Like chicken eggs, they should be fed whole or whole-whisked – with the yolk and whites included. 

Chicken Egg vs Quail Eggs
Photo Credit: Natalija Zanatic Car

Quail eggs: are rich in nutrients and a very popular treat. Their small size allows them to be used more frequently without overdoing the egg content of the diet. Given whole they are fun for ferrets to roll around and crack open.

Duck eggs: Many ferrets have difficulties with how incredibly rich duck eggs are. Also, the large size means that the entire egg should not be fed in one sitting. If you decide to try duck eggs, we recommend starting with a very small amount of the yolk first to test how your ferret tolerates it. If they handle a small amount of yolk well, then the next meal you can whisk some yolks and whites together and try offering a slightly larger amount. If they experience GI upset, vomiting, or diarrhea, then they should not be offered any further duck eggs.

How Much?

In general, the rule of thumb is to offer no more than the equivalent of 1 whole chicken egg (~50g) per ferret per week; up to 2-3 eggs per ferret per week as tolerated during shedding season.

One raw chicken egg is roughly equivalent to:
  • 5 quail eggs
  • 1/2 – 3/4 of a duck egg
  • 1/3 of a goose egg.

Below is a fantastic chart from morningchores.com demonstrating the size difference between different eggs, as well as the nutrient contents of each.

Egg Size Comparison
Original Photo from https://morningchores.com/duck-eggs/

Quail vs Chicken Egg Nutrition Data
Original Photo from: https://morningchores.com/duck-eggs/

Duck vs Goose Egg Nutrition Data
Original Picture from: https://morningchores.com/duck-eggs/

Raw Egg Safety

Author: Jaclynn; Chemistry/Biology

I just wanted to correct a common misconception about raw eggs.

They are safe for ferrets (and dogs and cats). The myth originated from the fact that raw egg whites contain an enzyme, called avidin. This enzyme sequesters biotin and makes it unavailable.

However, here’s why you don’t have to worry.

1) Raw egg whites are only 0.05% avidin. 
2) Raw egg yolks contain one of the highest concentrations of biotin found in nature. 

There is plenty of biotin available in the egg yolk to overcompensate for the avidin in the egg white. As long as the entire egg is fed, there are no risks of biotin deficiency.

Obviously a diet of only egg whites would be an issue, but a couple raw eggs a week is definitely not dangerous in any way at all.

Now the topic of salmonella in eggs. Does anyone know the rate of salmonella in eggs? Based on info from 2002, 2.3 million out of every 69 BILLION. That’s about 0.003% of all eggs. So it’s pretty unlikely you’ll end up feeding your ferret a salmonella infected egg. And it’s not like there aren’t pet food recalls every single year with salmonella contamination. Eggs are human grade, and are controlled and monitored much more closely than the pet food industry. 

Next, the acidic stomach of a ferret is a bacteria-colonizing deterrent. This means the environment discourages any bacteria from taking over the host.

Lastly, the digestive track of ferrets is so short that it’s extremely unlikely the ferret would become infected. 

Even kibble fed ferrets shed salmonella in their stools. This just shows that most ferrets are not susceptible to salmonella and efficiently pass it without infection. When was the last time there was a report of a ferret with salmonella? 

Wild polecats don’t cook their eggs.

I will add a caveat that care should be taken with immunosuppressed ferrets. Nevertheless, the chances of your ferret getting salmonella from eggs is lower than the likelihood of it coming from kibble.

Eggs are also very rich in thiamine.

So to summarize:

1) Biotin deficiency will not result from feeding whole raw eggs.
2) Salmonella is generally not a significant risk in ferrets