Loss of appetite is a common finding in the sick ferret and nutritional support is often required. Ferrets with insulinoma or pancreatic beta cell tumors may also require regular force feedings to help maintain normal blood glucose levels.
Fortunately ferrets are relatively easy to syringe feed, however the short, simple gut of the ferret has only a limited ability to absorb nutrients. So even healthy ferrets require a highly digestible diet.
- A high-quality, easily absorbable, highly digestible diet such as EmerAid Carnivore
- Syringe of appropriate size
- Optional: towel
- Prepare formula fresh for each feeding following label directions.
- Go slowly, starting with a small amount of warm food ranging from 0.2-0.5 ml at a time.
- To get the ferret’s attention, some individuals may need to be scruffed initially.
- Some ferrets respond better to hand feeding so also try offering warm food on a tongue depressor.
The ferret is a true carnivore with a short simple gut. Gastrointestinal transit time may be as rapid as 3 hours, and healthy ferrets normally eat many small meals throughout the day. Ferrets are often syringe-fed anywhere from 4 to 6 times daily. If the animal cannot eat much at a time, then feedings may be as frequent as every 2 to 3 hours.
Ackerman N. Companion Animal Nutrition: A Manual for Veterinary Nurses and Technicians. Butterworth Heinemann Elsevier, St. Louis, 2008.
Banks RE, Sharp JM, Doss SD, Vanderford DA. Exotic Small Mammal Care and Husbandry. Wiley-Blackwell, Ames, 2010: 64.
Wolf TM. Ferrets. In: Manual of Exotic Pet Practice. Mitchell MA, Tully TN (eds). Saunders, St. Louis, 2009: 371-372.