Chicken is one of most popular meats eaten around the world, and it’s quite clear why that is. Aside from the great taste, chicken is rich in protein, phosphorous, selenium, niacin, B vitamins, and other very important vitamins and minerals. These work to boost metabolism, keep the heart healthy, and even prevent bone loss. With all of the health benefits that come from chicken, you may be wondering: Can ferret eat chicken?
Chicken is one of the best foods that you can feed your ferret, so yes, your ferret can and should eat chicken. When given to a ferret in kibble form or as a solitary treat, chicken works to give ferrets most of the essential nutrients that they need to live a happy and healthy life.
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What Do Ferrets Eat In The Wild?
In order to better understand why chicken is so healthy for ferrets, it helps to know what ferrets would naturally eat in the wild. Although ferrets are domesticated now, for thousands of years they would roam free and hunt for their food. This has resulted in their digestive systems being fine-tuned to efficiently process their natural food.
This characteristic is why it’s so important to match your ferret’s diet to what they would eat in the wild — their bodies are optimized for a specific kind of food!
Ferrets aren’t just carnivores — they’re actually classified as obligate carnivores. Standard carnivores eat meat but can also eat plant matter, while obligate carnivores eat meat and that’s really it! Obligate carnivores get all of their necessary nutrients from animal protein, so there’s no need for them to eat anything else.
Ferrets can technically eat plant matter, but nothing is done with it once it’s ingested. The digestive system of ferrets can’t effectively process the plant matter, and this can result in quite a few complications from the undigested food.
There are a variety of animals that ferrets ate in the wild. This is due to the fact that ferrets eat virtually anything that they can catch. Some of the most commonly eaten animals by ferrets are rabbits, birds, rats, and even snakes. Although all of these animals are essentially different, their meat provides ferrets with all of the nutrients that they need to live a happy and healthy life.
Why Is Chicken Good For Ferrets?
So, after learning about what ferrets would naturally eat in the wild, it’s quite clear why chicken is such a good meat for them. Chicken is a meat that closely resembles the meat that’s been eaten by ferrets in the wild for thousands upon thousands of years.
First of all, chicken is just a healthy meat in general. It’s a very lean meat that still has an excellent amount of fat to give your ferret plenty of energy to get them through the day. It’s also packed full of protein, which is a nutrient that ferrets need a lot of — hence why they’re obligate carnivores!
Chicken also has a healthy amount of taurine, which is an essential amino acid for ferrets. Taurine essentially metabolizes fats, meaning that it processes fats and converts it into energy so that ferrets can go about their lives. Ferrets can’t store taurine in their body, meaning that they have to constantly eat and replenish their supply. A lack of this amino acid can be detrimental.
There are also many different ways to eat chicken! In addition to the plethora of ferret foods that contain chicken as the first ingredient, chicken can also be made into a soup, cooked, or served raw. Ferrets would, of course, eat lots of raw meat in the wild.
So, feeding ferrets raw chicken with all of the extra bits very closely resembles a ferret’s natural diet, which is great for their digestive system.
Should Ferrets Eat Raw Or Cooked Chicken?
There isn’t a clear answer to this question, because both have some pros and cons! So, we’re going to list out the benefits and risks of both kinds of chicken so that you can best decide what to feed your ferret!
- Chicken can be prepared in many different ways. This helps to keep a ferret’s diet interesting and diverse while still remaining healthy. Chicken can be served in a soup, boiled, or grilled, and these all produce healthy and tasty treats for ferrets.
- Many ferrets haven’t actually eaten any raw meat during their lives. This means that cooked chicken may be a better option, as it’s what ferrets are used to. Even if a ferret hasn’t eaten cooked chicken by itself, it’s still present in many ferret foods and treats.
- Pre-cooked chicken is dangerous, as many of them contain preservatives and other ingredients that are dangerous to ferrets. If a ferret is to eat chicken, it needs to be fresh with nothing added. This is how meat was eaten by ferrets in the wild, so their bodies can’t digest meat that has additives.
- Cooked chicken can be less nutritious than raw chicken as some protein is cooked off. However, this isn’t too big of an issue, as chicken is one of the best meats at retaining its protein composition.
- Very easy to feed to ferrets. A high-quality raw chicken can be cut into pieces and given to ferrets as a healthy, nutritious treat. For owners that want to provide there ferrets with a high-quality diet without spending a lot of time preparing food, this is an excellent option.
- A raw diet for ferrets has many health benefits, and it’s pretty clear why that is. For thousands of years, ferrets have hunted for their food, so their bodies are very used to processing raw meat. Because of this optimization, ferrets generally digest and process raw meat better, gaining more nutrients from it than from cooked foods.
- If you’re feeding your ferret raw chicken, there’s a good chance that you’ll have the rest of the chicken with you. In their raw diet, ferrets would regularly eat all parts of the animal — at least parts that they can eat. This assortment of different foods in one chicken results in a diverse and healthy eating experience.
- Some parts of raw chicken, or chicken on the bone, can be potentially hazardous to ferrets. Chicken wings have tiny, fragile bones on them that can be ingested and cause harm to a ferret’s insides.
- Raw chicken can go bad pretty soon, so it needs to be frozen and thawed for every feeding. Ferrets have digestive tracks that are very short and process food quickly, not giving bacteria enough time to grow. So, ferrets can eat chicken that humans can’t, but spoiled chicken should be avoided at all costs.
Can You Feed Ferrets Chicken Organs?
Yes, you can absolutely feed your ferret the extra parts of a chicken! Remember, ferrets would hunt for their food and eat almost every part of the carcass. This has resulted in digestive systems that are very hardy and get a lot of nutrition out of the extra parts of an animal — parts that we as humans generally disregard.
If you’re opting to feed your ferret a raw diet, then a healthy mix of meat, organs (such as liver), skin, and large, safe bones is a great way to give them a nutritious diet. Chicken liver has massive amounts of vitamins and minerals, and chicken skin is a great source of energy for ferrets.
Feeding ferrets more of these raw components can be a bit risky, though. Making sure that your ferret can’t choke on any bone is one of the most important steps to take. Ferrets are okay with eating larger bones that don’t splinter, such as the neck. If you’re unsure whether or not your ferret will be 100% okay, it’s smart to be present while they’re eating.
Healthy Ferret Foods With Chicken
While feeding your ferret raw or cooked chicken is a great way to give them some essential nutrients, it’s not for everybody. Many owners opt to feed their ferrets a pre-made ferret kibble, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this! These foods are packed with protein and the nutrients that ferrets need. Below are two of the most popular ferret foods that contain chicken.
Wysong Epigen 90 Digestive Support
This is one of the most popular ferret foods, and it’s not hard to see why that’s the case.
Nutritionally, this food is excellent with 62% protein and 16% fat — a healthy composition.
The ingredients in this food are very high quality, and they taste great to even picky ferrets.
Wysong Ferret Archetype Raw Food
This Wysong raw food takes a bit of a different approach to ferret food than standard kibble.
It features lower protein and fat contents, making it excellent as an additive to a ferret’s kibble.
Many owners notice a healthier coat and more energy in their ferrets when this food is given once a day.