Dark-footed ferrets depend on prairie dogs for everything from food to shelter to safety. These wild members of the weasel family eat prairie dogs practically exclusively and also live in abandoned prairie dog dens. They rely on these large holes for protection from eagles and other predators.
Within the past 100 years, dark-tailed prairie dogs actually have been nearly eradicated by ranchers and government agencies around the Great Plains because they compete with cattle for grass. They now occupy 1 percent of their former range. Ferret populations mirrored their decline. Even though wild ferrets were never abundant, their home range dwindled in 100 years from a particular region that stretched from Canada to Mexico to a single valley in Wyoming with 18 survivors.
So, what do polecats (wild ferrets cousin) eat?
- amphibians for example frogs,
- and also fish.
No place on that list will you find corn, wheat, rice, soy, or any grain. Like cats and more so as compared to dogs, whole feed animals make up virtually all the diet of the polecat.
Whole prey animals including mice, rats, small birds, and rabbits, which are attainable from several different sources to feed the ferrets. Some companies market these products as reptile food, while others are catering to cat and dog owners. All are great sources of whole feed animals for your ferret.
Whole Prey Diet for Domestic Ferrets
Feeding whole prey animals to pets is difficult for many of us. But ferrets can successfully be owned and keep their wild prey diet as pets. It can be tough, however, to feed rats and rabbits to the ferrets, and look your pet rat or rabbit in the eye afterward.
Raw commercial diets containing little or no vegetable substance are readily available, whereby the whole prey animal is already ground, bones and all. You can also use meat that might be easier for you as a pet owner to “stomach,” like for example chicken, lamb, or perhaps beef. Notwithstanding, make sure that all these diets provide the full spectrum of nutrients your ferret needs, as some nutrients might end up lacking in a whole prey diet which mimics what ferrets eat in the wild.