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Vet Clin North Am Exot Anim Pract. 1999 Jan;2(1):169-92, viii.

Ferret nutrition.

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Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


The unusually short intestinal tract of ferrets and closely related mustelids lacks a cecum and ileocolic valve. As a result, the transit time of ingesta in these carnivores is very rapid compared with other animals, and their food is inefficiently digested. Although the precise nutritional requirements of ferrets have not been determined by feeding defined diets, information has been compiled from experience feeding commercial and analyzed homemade diets to breeding ferrets, fitch, and mink at all stages of their lives. The requirements of spayed or neutered pet ferrets are met by allowing them constant access to drinking water and a palatable, pelleted, or extruded, 90% dry matter, premium cat or ferret food that, as fed, contains at least 15% fat and 30% high quality, meat source protein, less than 30% carbohydrates, and approximately 4 Kcal of metabolizable energy per gram. Lower density diets with more carbohydrate and less protein are associated with poor reproductive performance and growth and greater susceptibility to infectious and metabolic diseases.

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