Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ferret Babies

A baby ferret is called a kit. They are born naked and pink with their eyes closed. They begin to grow fur and get their coloration at about 3-weeks old. Their eyes won’t open until about 34 days. They are blind and defenseless and depend on their mother completely.

The length of time before the ferret babies are born is the ferret gestation period and that ranges from 41 to 43 days and occasionally as early as 38 days. A ferret’s litter size is not typical, the numbers ranging from one to fifteen. Newborn kits do have a high mortality rate.

Ferrets are an obligate carnivore, they have a short digestive tract; much too short to have the ability to digest nutrients in plants. The ferret’s digestive system does not include the caecum which is needed to digest plant food/plant fiber. The caecum is a pouch in-between the large and small intestine, which harbors the good bacteria that assist in digesting the cellulose in plants. Animals that are plant eaters have enzymes that aid the animal to digest the plants. Ferrets lack many of these enzymes.

Because of the short digestive tract food stays in the tract only a short period of time (in an adult ferret about three hours) therefore, the food they eat must be high protein, highly digestible, and have healthy fat. They must eat frequently. A poor diet will starve the ferret to death.

The mother’s milk is very rich with protein and fat. When a ferret is weaned they must have a meat diet, real meat like ground chicken or turkey is great. If you must use a dry ferret kibble get the best. Do not use cat food it has only 30-33% protein, it’s full of corn and other plant matter that a ferret cannot digest. They also need healthy fat, vitamin E, Taurine, amino acids and a variety of other required nutrients.

Totally Ferret has a Totally Ferret Baby Ferret Formula with 92% animal protein is an excellent weaning food, Marshalls is a good choice, ZuPreem Premium Ferret Diet, and Mazuri.

Ferrets need to eat at least every four hours if not more often. I have food available to them at all times. They also become accustomed to their food, and can have digestive disturbances if their food is abruptly changed. If you must change their food do so gradually. Use the food they are use to, then add small amount of the new food. Gradually increase the new food until you get them changed over completely. This article continues as does the series on ferrets and all exotic pets Baby Ferrets

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