A villager at the word "ferret" will look anxiously in the direction of the chicken coop and listen to see if the heart-rending clucking of pies is heard from there. But for the townspeople, the ferret, as domestic ferrets are called, is gradually becoming a familiar pet. Let not dog-like devotees, but infinitely charming. In order for the ferret to remain always healthy and playful, it must be kept according to the rules. This is especially true for feeding. The most common mistake is to assume that domestic ferrets eat the same food as cats. The British call the wild polecat that way: polecat - "Polish cat". However, feeding a ferret from one platter with a purr is not a very good idea.
A little history
The ancestors of today's ferrets saved many lives in medieval Europe, catching rodents and thereby stopping epidemics. A nimble predator could squeeze where the cat has no road. Then they were still half-wild animals, they were attracted to human habitation by the abundance of easy prey. People tried not to disturb the useful neighbor, and in gratitude left a saucer of milk and pieces of fruit for him.
In Russia, the relationship between a chorem and a person was far from being good-neighborly. Our ferrets - forest and steppe - also tend to settle near people. In years of famine, the animals live in sheds on the rural outskirts. The weasel begins to make hunting raids into neighboring buildings, until it stumbles upon the poultry house... clumsy chickens are too tempting prey. The denouement comes quickly: the path of the predator ends in the steel jaws of the trap or in the dog's mouth.
Biological characteristics of the ferret
Three species of these animals live in the wild:
- American black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes A.) - a rare species listed in the Red Book;
- steppe, aka light weasel (Mustela eversmanni) - lives throughout Eurasia in the steppes and forest-steppe;
- forest, or black ferret (Mustela putorius) - mastered the forests from Karelia to the Urals.
The ferret is a domesticated form of the black ferret, recognized as an independent species and received the Latin name Mustela putorius furo. The closest relatives of the ferret are ermines, weasels, minks, and Siberian weasels. All of them belong to the weasel family and are included in the suborder of the canine.
The weasel is not just carnivorous, it is a classic carnivore. Its digestive system is capable of assimilating only animal protein. A stomach the size of a walnut holds one mouse and no more. Everything that the ferret cannot eat right there, he hides. But not very far: soon he will be hungry again. An adult ferret eats 8-10 meals a day, this is the norm. Its gastrointestinal tract is maximum two meters long, and the metabolism of the active animal is rapid.
The body of this animal does not produce enzymes responsible for the breakdown of sugar and starch. However, the wild ferret willingly eats sweet berries, fruits, and even "sharpens" watermelons on melons. But for ferrets, the same delicacies can be deadly! This is explained by the fact that ferrets eat the freshest rodents in nature, along with offal. The predator "borrows" the necessary enzymes and living bacteria from the intestines of the prey. Hence the conclusion: in order for a domestic ferret to eat fruit without harm to health, it needs to be regularly given fresh, or even better live, mice.
Who do ferrets hunt for
The female feeds her cubs with milk for more than 7 weeks, but starting from the third week she offers them pieces of "adult" food. The female ferret does not eat some of the captured mice, but takes them alive to the nest to train the cubs. By the fall, young ferrets are ready to start an independent life: they are equal in size to their mother and have mastered the alphabet of survival.
The diet of the polecat is rather monotonous and almost entirely consists of small rodents. When the opportunity arises, the animal preys rats, rabbits and other forest dwellers, which it is able to cope with. Having crept under the snow to the night of the blackcocks, the ferret jumps onto the victim's back, grabs it by the neck and stings in the back of the head. In the same way, he cracks down on domestic chickens. Wild ferrets living near rivers and lakes hunt small fish. Like a mongoose, a polecat can easily catch snakes, even venomous ones. Hungry, does not disdain frogs and insects.
How to feed the ferret
... There are three main food systems, but only two of them are suitable for our pets: BARF and dry food. The third, namely minced meat, was also developed by scientists specifically for ferrets. But not for home. And for those on fur farms.
There are two lines of breeding ferrets - keeping them as companion animals and fur farming. In the first case, the main thing is to raise a healthy pet and help him maintain natural activity, that is, prolong his life. And in fur farm farms, the task is different: to quickly and cost-effectively raise animals with acceptable quality of fur. The recipe for industrial minced meat is replete with cereals (up to 60%) and offal, and for the rapid growth of the livestock, shock doses of vitamins are added to them. Therefore, when drawing up a menu for a ferret, you should not be guided by the manuals of the Fur Fur farming series.
You can cook minced meat at home. But their composition should be something like this:
- poultry meat - 40%;
- lean lamb, horse meat, beef - 20%;
- offal - 20%;
- fish - 10%;
- cottage cheese and raw eggs (preferably quail) - 5%;
- well-cooked vegetables - 5%.
Ingredients other than vegetables are used raw. Everything is turned through a meat grinder, mixed thoroughly and enriched with vitamin complexes for ferrets. Usually the mixture is made for future use, laid out in bags and frozen. Periodically, minced meat should be replaced with offal, offal, raw egg, etc.
Closer to nature
BARF feeding is popular with breeders. Literally translated - "bones and raw food" (Bones And Raw Food). Feeding mice can be purchased or bred on their own. Catching with a mousetrap is not recommended: sick or chemical-poisoned rodents get there. The only drawback of this system is that not everyone will be able to regularly kill mice, and even more so feed them alive.
BARF can be used to formulate a complete diet for your ferret that does not require vitamin supplements. Bones And Raw Food diets can be quite monotonous, and this does not contradict the natural eating pattern. An exception is made for pregnant females and those whose offspring are growing up. For example, a weekly menu for a nursing female might look like this:
|Day of the week||Morning||Evening|
|W||Beef||Quail eggs and feed cockroach|
|Wed||Mouse||Chicken foot and apple slice|
|Thu||Horse meat||Poultry offal|
|Fri||Lean fish and cottage cheese||Turkey neck|
|Sat||Daily chicken||Beef liver|
Dry food for ferrets
Dry food is balanced and is not subject to corruption. But it will only be useful if it is Premium and Super Premium products. Economy class mixes contain fillers that are incompatible with ferret metabolism. Professional breeders recommend foods from the brands Evo, Bosch, Eagle, 8 in 1, Padovan and others, which contain about 35% digestible animal proteins and more than 20% fat. The share of plant fiber should not exceed 5%. Preference is given to mixtures based on poultry meat. If ferret food is temporarily unavailable, it can be replaced with premium formulas for kittens. Animals consuming dry food should always have access to clean water.
What ferrets should not eat
Sugar is on the first place on the "black list" of dangerous food. Ferrets should be carefully hidden from honey, chocolate and any sweet drink. You can not offer pets anything fried, salted and smoked, as well as fatty pork and lamb. It is strongly not recommended to dilute minced meat with soy "meat".
If the ferret is ill
Easily digestible food is shown to sick animals. The most gentle diet is chicken broth. If the animal turns away from the bowl, its nose is moistened with broth - it licks itself and thus tries a new taste.
Ferrets are fed twice a day. If there are other animals nearby, that is, "competitors", the animal hides the uneaten and then slowly gets supplies from its "caches". Ferrets usually have one or two permanent caches. It is not necessary to immediately clean these pantries, otherwise the beast will hide food anywhere.
Ferrets are partial to rubber. When the ferret walks around the house, you need to remove all rubber objects and toys: the animal will gnaw them, and pieces of latex can clog the intestines..