Message Number: YG6142 | New FHL Archives Search
From: RRC
Date: 2001-08-06 08:49:00 UTC
Subject: Bob C: "Ferrets" quiz Question-follow-up

One thing I forgot to discuss is dried meats. I offer beef jerky, dried
shrimp and fish (mostly salmon or trout), and chicken or turkey jerky to
my ferrets as treats, which they love. The Late, Great Bear would bite
your finger if you tried to take his beef jerky away! I don't offer
commercial products manufactured for humans because of the high salt
content, and the seasonings are unnecessary. I make my own simply by
cutting the meat into strips and drying it in a dehydrator (you can get
one for about 50 bucks). Also, I don't dry it to a rock-hard
consistency, just until it is tough, but still bendable. I package the
dried meats in ziplock bags and store them in the freezer until needed.
I only thaw what is needed at a single time. This method has completely
eliminates problems with fungus or other spoilage.

Even so, the ferret may require extra water to process the dried meats,
which is ok as long as your ferret is healthy (discuss dried meats with
your vet if your ferret has cardiac, kidney or water retention
problems). Usually, I crumble some up and add it to chicken baby food
for my sickies. As a treat it is wonderful, but the calcium/phosphorus
ratio is off, so don't feed it expecting it would be a complete meal.
Kits raised on a diet of beef jerky would likely end up with rickets.

One finally word of warning. Feeding beef jerky—even home-made,
unseasoned stuff—results in extremely dark scat which could mimic tarry
poop caused by gastric bleeding. Muscle meats are full of myoglobin,
which has a lot of iron. It's the iron in the blood which makes stools
turn black and tarry, and a diet of concentrated muscle tends to do the
same thing. If your ferret gets black stools from eating dried beef, it
won't hurt them. Aside from the presence of fur and bone, wild carnivore
scat can be distinguished from pet poop because of the dark color.
However, if your ferret is prone to bouts of ulcers, and it is important
to watch the stools for the first sign of bleeding, I would suggest
skipping the beef jerky and sticking to dried fish or chicken. The beef
won't harm them; it just makes it hard to watch for the symptoms of bleeding.

Bob C