Message Number: YG2113 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Betty
Date: 2001-04-03 13:16:00 UTC
Subject: Force Feeding Ferrets

First of all, let me say that when it comes to the ferrets, I try to
take on a pro-active approach on their health. This means that once a
ferret comes into my home, I start giving them things like chicken baby
food with nutrical and a little Boost, as well as Bob's Chicken Gravy. I
do this so that when these ferrets do not feel well, or go off their
regular food, they will take the chicken baby food and the gravy without
being stressed out. So my first recommendation is to start all the
healthy ferrets on a form of duck soup or the gravy or both right away.

Feeding a new food to some ferrets can be difficult and so I try two
different approaches. The first one is the offering - the ferret either
takes it or he doesn't. If he does, I have no worries, and it matters
not how much he takes at first, because I know he will take more as the
weeks progress. If he does not, then the second approach comes into
play: force feeding. I start off by taking the gravy onto my finger and
putting enough on the mouth for the ferret to lick off and taste.
Sometimes this is enough and they start to eat it on their own. When
they don't I move from finger feeding to syringe feeding. The syringe is
fine for the baby food mix but lousy for the gravy. This forced me to
cut off the end of the syringe enough to allow the "lumps" of the gravy
through. (I should also mention at this point that I run the who chicken
through a meat grinder twice... once for large grind, and second for
fine grind. In the final mix, it gets run through my food processor and
becomes more like a thick gravy with very tiny lumps. I don't have the
splinter problem at all doing it this way.) When feeding ferrets this
way I make sure that only a small amount of the gravy is allowed into
the cheek of the ferret, or on the front teeth of the ferret so that he
decides how much he will take in at a time.

I have a three day rule... which means that I actively feed the new
foods to the new ferrets a couple of times a day for the first three
days. By day three, they usually start eating it on their own. Some
ferrets do take longer... I have had one that was stubborn enough to
hold out for 6 weeks, but through persistence, he now takes it on his
own without a problem.

I then graduated from the syringe to a small plastic bottle. It allowed
more food to go in, it didn't have a plunger to stick or wear out, and
it allowed good control for giving food. The only thing that it did not
accurately provide me with was the exact amount the ferret was eating. I
use to syringe in food to the bottle so that I had a base marker to help
me figure out an amount to start with. Then I started marking the
plastic bottle. The tip can be cut to any size opening and is easy to

Sukie made a very good point with allowing the ferret time and
opportunity to breathe in between mouthfuls. This is very important.
Keep in mind that each ferret eats at a different rate and that one must
exercise patience when feeding these little guys. I have a few ferrets
that guzzle the baby food and the gravy when I have leftovers. They want
it so bad that they get too excited and take more than they really can
handle. I have to remember not to go too fast, or they will choke on the

Just a side note here... I have had ferrets in the past that have lived
off of nothing but chicken baby food, nutrical and boost for up to 5
years. Their poop was runny at first, but as their systems got use to
it, their poops looked normal. This was before I knew about Bob's Gravy.

I hope this helps.

Betty and Her Blur O'Fur