When those bright little eyes peek longingly from that adorable fuzzy little face, it can be hard to resist the urge to indulge your ferret with whatever tantalizing treat the little trickster is trying to get out of you. But keep in mind that, as with everything in life, moderation is key; no more than 5% of your ferret’s overall diet should consist of treats, and not all treats are created equal. As obligate carnivores, ferrets have very specific nutritional needs that differ from dogs, cats, and especially humans. They cannot eat the same kinds of food or treats that you or even your other pets consume on a daily basis and they remain completely healthy. Ferrets need a high-protein, high-fat, low-fiber diet with the main protein sources coming from meat ingredients. They do not digest fruits, vegetables, grains / cereals, or fiber well, and should avoid sweet / sugary foods that can lead to dental problems, obesity, and an increased risk of insulinoma.

The following is a list of some great options to offer:

1) Meat: freeze dried, cooked or raw (If not already part of your main diet) Chicken, turkey, beef, salmon, organ meats such as liver or chicken hearts, jerky without salt (avoid seasoned or processed meats such as cold cuts, salami or bacon).

2) Small animals of prey (If not already part of your main diet): mice, chicks, quail, rats, rabbits, preferably previously slaughtered or thawed to avoid harming your ferret.

3) Insects (live / dry) Earthworms. Mealworms. Crickets. Cockroaches Live bait.

4) Chicken or turkey baby food – Ferrets can get addicted to these things! It also works well as a temporary substitute for kibble if your ferret is sick or recovering from surgery and is a picky eater.

5) Eggs: raw or cooked without seasoning (remove the skin)

6) Oils – Salmon, emu, cod liver, extra virgin olive or extra virgin coconut oils.

Vitamin supplements like FerreTone, Linatone, Furatone, FerretLax, Laxatone, Petromalt should be avoided when it comes to healthy ferrets. Vitamin A toxicity can result from too many “tone” supplements.

7) Commercial treats for ferrets – The highest quality treats do not contain sugar or soy ingredients. Here are some good ones:

– Wysong Daily Dream Ferret Treats

– Freeze Dried Stella & Chewys

– Freeze-dried PureBites

The following are also fine in moderation, but are less preferred due to traces of sugar and / or soy:

– N-Bone Ferret Chewy Treats

– Cheweasel edible chew toys

– Foamy Fries from Fuzzys

– Ferret Candy with Natural Brown Chicken Strips

Avoid most “ferret treats” sold in pet stores; many are high in sugar, fruits and vegetables as main ingredients and contain almost no protein.

Do not feed list:

Vegetables, fruits, dried fruits (including raisins), alcohol, sugary drinks or juices, coffee and tea products, garlic or shallots, cereals, dairy products, seeds and nuts (can cause clogging), chocolate, candy, fruit snacks , peanut butter, natural non-ferret chew toys (such as cow’s hooves, pig ears, or rawhide; can cause intestinal blockages in ferrets), dog or cat treats.

When in doubt, don’t let your ferret eat it, even if he or she wants it! Remember … ferrets eat a deadly piece of plastic or Styrofoam just as fast as they do a tasty piece of meat, so they’re clearly not always the best judges of what is or isn’t good for them. You have to be the smart one in the family and keep them on the safe path to a long and healthy life; even if it means preventing them from eating things that they are absolutely convinced they want to eat. Being the bad cop and limiting your ferret’s treats will pay off when you can enjoy the benefit of the company of a cheerful, bright-eyed bandit for many years to come.