Message Number: YG2940 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Edward Lipinski
Date: 2001-04-25 12:20:00 UTC
Subject: Re: [Ferret-Health-list] Eating spiders, roaches &
caterpillars...ummm good.

Dear 'Jacq',

Our ferrets also gobble down spiders and seem to enjoy the stalk so very
much. In addition, and I am so surprised at this: the ferrets also chomp
down on garden slugs, biting them repeatedly until the slug exudes
copious slime, at which time the ferrets abandon the doomed slug. They
do not come back and eat the dead slug at a later time but do demonstrate
considerable interest in their corpses.

I've wondered what effect the venom sacks in the spider's thorax have on
the GI tract of the ferret after the spider is crushed initally between
the ferret's bridge teeth - the very small front teeth that bridge the
area between the K9's - then momentarily 'chewed' along the side teeth
of the jaws and then swolled more or less one sticky, crunchy whole.

I would hazard a guess that since the injested spider's venom sacks are
likely crushed and mixed immediately with the fluids of the spider's
circulatory system, that none of the venom is injected into the ferret's
circulatory system, as would be the case should the spider be able to
puncture the gingiva or tongue with its dual opposing fangs and pump its
venom into the underlying tissues and bodily fluids.

Of course there is always the risk that the spider when first nipped by
the ferret, depending upon which end of the spider was nipped, that for a
very brief instant the spider may be able to inject its two fangs into
the tissue of the ferret's mouth, tongue or 'lips'. The time that the
spider has to do this is apparently extremely short and I would venture
to guess that the spider would have other things on its 'mind' as its
abdomen/thorax is being crushed between the ferret's teeth. The ferret
seems to learn almost immediately (is this instinctual?) just how to kill
and eat succeeding spiders, and they must taste so very, very good. And
as intelligent as ferrets have proved to be, I'd think that the initial
'sting' of the penetrating chelicera - name for the spider's fangs -
would result in the ferret learning how not to pick up the average

From a nutritional standpoint I'd be inclined to assume that spiders, as
well as almost all insects, offer high nutritional value to the ferret,
as well as to us were we to eat them. Some humans do you know.

With the summer here and the insect population building in leaps and
bounds due to the very mild winter we've experienced here in the Seattle,
Washington area, I'll be looking for and gathering the unhairy
caterpillars and the metamorphyl chrysalises, - the insect pupae - of
insects as they mature and will offer them as tasty tid-bits to the
ferrets for their gastronomical delights. Perhaps I'll even try a few
myself following their brief heating bath in hot cooking oil.

Bon appitite mon ami!

Edward Lipinski @ Ferret Endowment for Research, Rehab, Education &
Training Society North West Foundation, established 1981 and founded

On Wed, 25 Apr 2001 10:24:28 -0600 Jacqueline Snyder <SNYDER@G...>
> We have quite a few spiders this time of the year--our house is old
> and I
> don't use pesticides. (And I think the spiders keep worse pests
> under
> control, so I'm not inclined to get rid of them.)
> Several of my ferrets really enjoy eating spiders. They will watch a
> spider
> and then pounce. They don't play, they gobble, so the spiders don't
> have
> time to fight back.
> Excluding the dangers of bites from black widows, can eating spiders
> harm
> ferrets?
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