That's awesome! Hope you don't mind me sharing....
If I can help in any way, please let me know!
I never realized how MUCH their diet affects them until I had two in my arms at the same time... One kibble fed, and one raw fed. One was soft & silky, the other was coarse (almost wiry in comparison) and the smell was different, too. Much more musky on kibble. Raw feeding the ferrets was actually easier for me than the dogs...
I've even graduated to whole prey (frozen-thawed) which I NEVER thought I'd do!
Do you have a Ferrets for Dummies Book? 2nd Edition? It has a section in there about raw. Also, The Holistic Ferret Forum - Natural Ferret Nutrition
Natural Ferret Diets - Whole Prey Diets and Raw Diets for Ferrets
Is a Natural Diet Right for Your Ferret?
She's on the holistic ferret forum, too
Hey there guys! This is Giuli, I feed my ferrets a natural diet. Their diet consists of:
1.) Raw meaty bones (such as chicken wings, legs, Cornish hens)
2.) Organ meat (livers, gizzards, hearts, tripe, etc)
3.) Whole prey (frozen-thawed mice, rats, chicks, lizards)
4.) Bugs (crickets, mealworms, superworms, etc)
5.) Random items (eggs, beef chunks, sardines,etc)
If anyone is interested in this diet, you can email me. Its not a diet for every person, or every ferret, and it involves MUCH more then feeding raw meat to your ferret, its VITAL that they receive the correct proportion of meat/bones/organs in their diet, and its also HIGHLY recommended to include whole prey. I follow these percentage guidelines on a weekly basis:
75%- Meat (flesh, tendons, fat, skin)
15%- Edible bone (RAW chicken bones, mouse bones, SOME rabbit bones)
10%- Organ meat (livers, gizzards, Hearts, etc)
This is what my weekly feeding schedule for FOUR ferrets looks like:
MONDAY: 1 raw Chicken wing, 1 raw chicken leg, a couple of frozen- thawed crickets, frozen-thawed 1 mouse
TUESDAY: 1/2 raw Cornish hen
WEDNESDAY: 1 raw chicken wing, 1 raw chicken thigh, some mealworms, 1 frozen-thawed mouse
THURSDAY: 1/2 raw Cornish hen, possibly an anole lizard
FRIDAY: 1 raw turkey wing
SATURDAY: 1 frozen-thawed rat, some superworms
SUNDAY: 8 raw chicken gizzards, 4 raw chicken hearts, 1 raw chicken liver, 2 raw eggs (shell and all), 1/2 cup of raw beef chunks
I feed my guys TWICE a day. Each morning I go into their cage and take out the remains of their dinner from the night before. I let the ferrets out to play and I sanitize the bottom of the cage (where they eat) with Clorox Anywhere Hardsurface Daily Sanitizing Spray. I also wash their bowl out. Then I put their food into their bowl, and put the bowl in the cage. When I get home from work in the evening there is usually only a little food left over. I put the leftover food into their bowl and I add some more food. I sanitize the cage bottom, and I put the food bowl back into the cage.
My ferrets nibble on their food throughout the day. I leave meat and mice in the cage for no more then 24 hours. I've never had a ferret get sick from this diet and I've never gotten sick from feeding them this diet.
I choose to feed this diet for a number of reasons. Ferrets that are fed a natural diet have been shown to demonstrate:
1.) Lower instances of insulinomas (tumors of the pancreas)
2.) A healthy outlet for natural behaviors such as chewing and biting.
3.) More energy, (something most people wouldn't think possible, but sure is fun to see)
4.) Less smelly pelts
5.) Softer fur (sometimes even longer fur )
6.) More muscle mass (One of my ferrets gained 1/4 lb of muscle in the first two months on a natural diet)
7.) Less waste output
8.) Less smelly waste output
9.) Lower instances of plaque build up and periodontal disease (something that is common in ferrets and more serious then you may think )
10.) Lower instances of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)
11.) Stronger immune systems (because by feeding foods that a ferret was designed to eat you are exposing them to natural bacteria and thus making them less sensitive to it)
12.) More muscle development in head, jaw, chest
13.) Increased dexterity
14.) Increased problem-solving abilities (natural fed ferrets actually have to find a way to eat their food because it's not served "ready-to-eat" like kibble. Each type of food presents a new challenge for them, as they have to figure out how to eat it.)
15.) Less smelly breath (Because a natural diet contains NO carbohydrates, and the bones, flesh, and fur naturally "clean and polish" the teeth, and because there is no crushed up carbohydrate residue sitting below the gum line. This is what generally causes smelly breath.)
16.) Higher hydration levels (due to the high amounts of water naturally present in foods such as chicken wings and whole prey)
A natural diet requires lots of research to properly feed the crucial vit/min. AT this time, NO ONE (not even kibble manufacturers) knows what a 'balanced and complete diet' for a ferret is. They (and I) and can only venture their best guess (based on what their wild relatives eat). A natural diet can be healthy and not lacking in vitamins as long as it is done correctly. Here are some GREAT references about feeding a natural diet:
Bob Church's Diet 101 Series [from the FML] (start from the bottom and work your way up)
LISTSERV 16.0 - Archive Search
"Re-Thinking The Ferret Diet", by Susan Brown DVM
Rethinking The Ferret Diet - VeterinaryPartner.com - a VIN company!
"Natural Ferret Care", by Cristie Keith
Natural Ferret Care
Recommended Reading on Natural Ferret Care:
Natural Ferret Bookstore
Also, a GREAT resource for natural feeding is NaturalFerrets (on Yahoo! groups).
I am currently in the process of completing a 40 page article on natural diets for ferrets. It encompasses EVERYTHING imaginable on natural ferret diets. Dr. Susan Brown (a very highly respected ferret vet) is going to be reviewing the final draft of my article, so I am very excited about that. I plan to put the info in my article up onto my own website, but first I will be purchasing the software to make my website. Once I have created the website, I will post the link.
Lastly, check out a recent issue of Ferrets Magazine for an article on whole prey diets for ferrets, written by the health coordinator for the international ferret congress, my friend, Danee Devore. (Look for my name in the article! I'm on the very last paragraph in the section that talks about the advantages of a whole
prey diet! It says I just started to feed raw, but the article was actually written back in Jan. when I just started to feed raw).
I hope some of you have found some useful info on natural diets in this post. It takes a while to learn about what feeding a natural diet includes, but once you get the hang of it, its actually pretty easy to do.
Natural Raw Diet | ferret life
Maddie CGC .:. Cocker Spaniel .:. 11 y/o
Bailey CGC .:. Shetland Sheepdog .:. 4 y/o