Ferrets are strict meat-eaters. They are predatory mammals that would hunt and kill small animals like mice, rabbits, and other rodents. The pet ferrets we know and love so much were domesticated about 2,500 years ago.
Ferrets were historically used to hunt rabbits and rodents. Ferrets are well-suited to diving into burrows to hunt rodents and rabbits because of their lean bodies and curious nature. The expression “ferret out” is derived from this.
But, how about the question if pet ferrets do eat snakes? The answer is Yes, they could. But are snakes something they would seek out uuas their primary food source? No probably not.
Pet Ferrets are not Wild Animals
First things first, pet ferrets are not wild animals. They have no species close to their own.
The ferret we know and love today are domesticated animals that were raised in captivity for many generations. They grew up as part of a family unit, including pet owners. They were bred for pets, companionship, hunting, and to protect grain stores from rodents.
Ferrets are members of the weasel family (Mustelidae), which also include polecats, stoats, and ermines. The domesticated ferret most likely descends from the European polecat.
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There are only one species of wild ferret that lives in North America. The Black-Footed Ferret.
The Black-Footed Ferret
In order to answer the question if ferrets eat snakes, let us take a look at what the wild relatives of our pet ferrets eat.
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute says the following about the typical diet of Black-Footed ferrets:
“In the wild, 90 percent of black-footed ferrets’ diet is prairie dogs. One ferret may eat over 100 prairie dogs in a year, and scientists calculate that one ferret family needs more than 250 prairie dogs each year. The remainder of their diet includes mice, rats, ground squirrels, rabbits, birds and occasionally reptiles and insects.”
So, wild ferrets would occasionally eat reptiles. The Center for Biological Diversity says the following about reptiles:
“Reptiles are turtles, snakes, lizards, alligators and crocodiles. Unlike amphibians, reptiles breathe only through their lungs and have dry, scaly skin that prevents them from drying out.”
Therefore it is safe to say, that Black-Footed Ferrets eat snakes. Only occasionally as their main diet is prairie dogs.
But What About Pet Ferrets?
As said above, ferrets as we know them are not wild animals. Nevertheless they still have their hunting instincts and it is absolutely possible that they would hunt snakes. If that were true, would they eat them? The answer is it depends.
Imprinted to Food
Ferrets are imprinted to the foods they eat by the age of approximately six months. Many pet stores that sell ferrets rely on dry food for feeding only.
If you happen to own such a ferret, it would most likely not eat any raw meats at first. You would have to gradually introduce raw meat to their diet.
How to Introduce Raw Meat to a Ferret
There are two ways to introduce raw meat to a ferret.
One is by adding it to their regular food. This is safe and very easy to do. You can buy commercial foods made especially for ferrets and add a piece of raw meat on top of it or add water and mix pieces of raw meat into it.
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The other way may seem a little harsher. Replace one of their daily meals 100% with raw meat.
This strategy works if you own ferrets that are hungry enough to eat anything.
What Meats can your Ferret eat?
Basically, ferrets are not picky about the kind of meat you give them. As soon as they are used to eating raw meat you could give them:
- chicken wings
- turkey necks
- Game birds
- bones (raw)
- fish (sometimes)
- wild game
If you’re comfortable storing whole prey in your fridge or freezer, you could buy feeder mice or chicks. Once used to them, your ferret will love those.
Benefits Of the Raw Meat Diet
I’m feeding my ferrets a raw diet whenever possible. Some of the benefits of a raw meat diet are better coats and skin. In general ferrets look healthier and have a shinier coat.
Plus by feeding them raw meat, you ensure that they get all the vitamins they need!
Ferrets are obligate carnivores and should eat meat and nothing else. Dry food that is not specifically made for ferrets is generally of very poor quality and contains lots of filler.
Do not give your furry friend dog or cat food! Always buy food specifically made for ferrets!
So, in conclusion, do ferrets eat snakes? Yes they can and will eat snakes if necessary. Ferretsbare not wild animals and They will eat what you offer them. Some owners feed their ferret’s dry food and a mixture of raw meats.