Ferrets are carnivores and benefit from meals that are high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates and fiber. In the wild ferrets are opportunistic hunters that can consume smaller mammals, fish, birds, and reptiles. So, it is safe to feed chicken to your pet ferret. You can feed your ferret raw chicken, but following safe feeding guidelines is important to prevent your ferret from getting sick. Here’s what you need to know in order to ensure your ferret’s able to enjoy eating chicken safely.
Benefits of Feeding Your Ferret Raw Chicken
Since ferrets prey on birds in the wild, chicken tends to be very palatable to them. They usually don’t have any issues with eating chicken and will typically eat it with enthusiasm. Fortunately, ferrets can also experience health benefits from eating some chicken.
Chicken is an excellent source of amino acids that are used to build muscle tissue. Chicken can support bone health and is a good source of various vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, tryptophan, choline, zinc, iron, and copper. Raw chicken bones are also safe for ferrets to eat, and they’re a good source of calcium, bone marrow, and minerals, and great for keeping their teeth and gums healthy.
How to Safely Feed Your Ferret Raw Chicken
Pet ferrets can benefit from eating high-quality ferret pellets, as they contain a balanced nutritional formula with essential vitamins and minerals ferrets need to consume daily. If you’re curious about feeding your ferret a raw diet, it’s best to consult your veterinarian first to determine if it will benefit your ferret’s health and well-being.
Feed Only Occasionally
Ferrets don’t need to have raw chicken included in their main diet, and they can simply enjoy it as a snack or special treat. If it’s your ferret’s first time trying raw chicken, make sure to only give a very small amount to avoid an upset stomach. Cut a small slice of raw chicken so that it’s easy for your ferret to chew. The amount of chicken they eat can increase as they get used to eating raw chicken.
Keep the Chicken Refrigerated
Keep in mind that raw chicken should only be left out at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours. If temperatures rise to 90°F and above, the time it can stay out is reduced to 1 hour. Leaving chicken unrefrigerated for too long will allow harmful bacteria and other microorganisms to multiply quickly.
Make Sure the Chicken Is Fresh
It’s also important to only purchase fresh, high-quality cuts of chicken meat. This will reduce the risk of food poisoning. When shopping for raw chicken cuts, be mindful of the expiration date, packaging date, and the overall appearance of the meat. Chicken meat should always be pink, and any other color indicates that the meat is old or expired. Fresh chicken meat will also bounce back when you poke it. If you press down on it, the indent should rise back up within a few seconds.
Another way to determine if the chicken is fresh is to smell out any odors. Fresh chicken will have a relatively neutral odor. Any pungent smells are an indicator that the meat has gone bad.
If you want to keep raw chicken in stock for your ferret, you can divide fresh chicken into single portions and freeze them right away. Thaw a portion out in the fridge before offering it.
The reason it’s so important to purchase fresh chicken meat for your ferret is that spoiled chicken can carry bacteria like Salmonella that can cause food poisoning. Ferrets can get sick from Salmonella and experience an upset stomach. Signs of salmonellosis in ferrets include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. Ferrets are also susceptible to becoming dehydrated due to loss of fluids from diarrhea or vomiting.
If you suspect your ferret has food poisoning, it’s best to consult your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can perform a physical exam and provide a treatment plan to help your ferret recover and feel better.
Many ferrets enjoy eating raw chicken, but it’s our responsibility to ensure that they’re eating safe cuts of raw meat. Be mindful of the chicken’s freshness and quality, and make sure to slowly introduce your ferret to raw chicken if they’ve never had it before. Taking these extra precautions will help your ferret enjoy eating these tasty treats with a low risk of food poisoning.
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