Ferret Nutrition for Complete Newbies
where to start
ingredient quality
don't panic
Ferret Food FAQ
why feed a mix of foods?
Intermediate Topics
ferretone, oil treats, and vitamin A & D toxicity
why some cat foods are ferret-suitable
the wild polecat's diet
links to other ferret charts

Ferret Food FAQ:
Why Does Everyone Recommend Feeding a Mix of 2 or More Foods?

The short answer is: it's mostly a safety net to protect against picky ferrets.

The long answer is:
Ferrets are very prone to becoming picky eaters. If they are given the same brand of kibble for a long time, they often get too accustomed to it and won't be willing to try anything new or different- Even to the point where they'd rather starve and die than try a new brand. That might not sound like a huge issue when your food is always in stock at the local pet store (or online store), but there's a world of things that can go wrong and prevent you from getting the food that your ferret wants.

Things That Are Out of Your Control That Can Keep You From Getting the Food That You Need

The example: Let's say you have a ferret named Bandit, who will only eat Zupreem ferret food, which you buy from your local Petsmart.

Something happens at the company:

  • Zupreem goes out of business
  • Zupreem decides to discontinue the flavour that Bandit eats
  • Zupreem is experiencing a temporary shortage (It happens for many reasons: high demand, a shortage of raw materials from their suppliers, changing their manufacturing plant, changing their packaging, etc.)
  • Zupreem can no longer ship to your country due to border regulations on some of its ingredients

  • Something happens with the food:

  • Zupreem changes its formula, and Bandit doesn't like the taste of the new formula
  • Zupreem changes its kibble shape, and Bandit doesn't like the different size or texture
  • Zupreem changes its formula, and the new formula no longer meets your standards for quality
  • The latest bag of Zupreem you bought is from a batch that was cooked just slightly longer or shorter than usual, and Bandit doesn't want it because the taste is a bit different
  • The latest bag of Zupreem you bought is an "off batch". Something is wrong with it and it makes Bandit sick.
  • Zupreem has to issue a recall for their foods due to contamination, salmonella, etc, and you can't buy it anywhere for a few weeks or months

  • Something happens with the store:

  • Petsmart HQ decides to stop carrying Zupreem
  • Just your local Petsmart branch decides to stop carrying Zupreem ferret food because it isn't selling well
  • Your local Petsmart goes out of business and closes, and none of the other stores in town sell Zupreem
  • Your local Petsmart is sold out of Zupreem at the moment and won't restock before you run out of food
  • You move to another city, and there aren't any stores there that sell Zupreem

  • The solution? Mix or rotate 2 or more foods.

    If you can't get one of them, then you have another to fall back on that your ferret already likes. Plus, if you give your ferret enough kibble variety (different flavours, shapes, smells, and textures), they're much less likely to get really picky in the first place. Their taste will be more varied and they'll be more likely to accept new brands or formula changes in the future.

    Other reasons to give a mix include:
  • The variety could potentially have nutritional benefits, especially if the foods have different main ingredients.
  • Many ferrets aren't picky, but almost every ferret's digestive system is sensitive. If you're forced to change foods (see above table), switching brands overnight could give them an upset stomach and/or diarrhea. If that lasts long enough, it can lead to a prolapsed rectum as well.
  • Variety is fun! It just feels nice to give your ferrets more than one flavour, especially when they're eating the same thing every day.