Author Topic: Ferrets and Feeder Rats  (Read 5261 times)

Offline kris.

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Ferrets and Feeder Rats
« on: July 07, 2011, 06:40:53 AM »
Hi, I just joined this forum a few weeks ago as I'm planning to get a pair of rats soon and wanted to do some research beforehand. Seemed like the best way to learn about pet rats was from pet rat owners, so I've been reading through the rat forums here. Everyone on this site really sounds like they know what they're talking about :) (And I mean that in a good way, not implying anything negative :P)

But anyway, being as I'm into rat research at the moment (and just interested in looking at cute rats ;D), I was looking at various videos on youtube from pet rats themselves, to cages and making hammocks. Basically, I've been clicking on recommended videos and following trails of links that lead anywhere vaguely related to rats. 

And now, on to the point of my making this post in the ferret forum. (And if I've created this in the wrong spot, I'm sorry >.<)
I ran across several videos of people putting their ferrets in with feeder rats so that they can kill them. From what I can tell, they don't eat them, just kill them. Before I saw those videos, it never even occured to me that someone would do that. I mean, I know that some people hunt with ferrets, but I'd assume that's completely different. And I'm not entirely against feeder rats actually being used as food as I do know that snakes need to eat (Although I prefer they eat frozen/thawed, of course). But I know that ferrets have store bought, non rat food to eat.

Anyway, to get to get directly to the question, is there a reason anyone would want to get a feeder rat for their ferret to kill? Is there anything to gain by doing that? Or are the people that do that the same sort of people that like watching dog fights and things of that nature? Or do I just not get it? >.<'

Offline shooper

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Re: Ferrets and Feeder Rats
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2011, 12:02:09 AM »
The ferrets actually do eat them. Usually it is just mice (as rats are better at defending themselves). Many ferret owners feed raw to their ferrets. They say it is much healthier than commercial diet.  They also feed them baby chicks, rabbit, pretty much any raw meat. Not sure why, but some owners like to feed live. I do own a ferret, but choose to feed him the store bought kibble. I have pet rats and cant imagine feeding live prey to my ferret! :shocked2:
Mom to 3 dogs (Trouble, Josie and Trooper), 2 chinchillas (Charlie and Inca), 1 sugar glider (Clyde)
and 9 ratties (5 girls and 4 boys)

Offline Critter Crazy

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Re: Ferrets and Feeder Rats
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2011, 06:48:35 AM »
Many people feeding live to their ferrets either do it for sheer entertainment, or because they believe in ''it's the only proper way to feed a ferret''. Many ferrets will kill & eat them, some just kill them or don't even recognise what to do with them. In all honesty, feeding a live rat to anything is reckless & irresponsible, as they can inflict all most as much damage (I've had stitches in one side of my hand from a rescue girl).

The best way to go is fresh or frozen meats, rather than commercial kibbles. It's easy to get frozen whole prey items (frozen rats, quial, day old chicks, mice) & it allows the ferret access to meat, organ & bone matter, which are all good for them. Also going to the local butcher or supermarket to pick up fresh meats like livers, kidneys, heart, brain (if you can find it), cuts of beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck & rabbit, plus bone sources like bird necks & wings, beef or lamb tails. Things like raw whole eggs (shell included) blended into mince or mixed into wet/canned cat foods (if given), give them plenty of vitamins & minerals.
It's not hard to feed them, it can be expensive with some items, but working out an appropriate & safe diet is quite easy. Admittedly, kibble isn't the worse thing in the world, but you do have to be careful as a lot of it goes to waste for the ferrets just use what they can from it & the rest passes through. They're not designed for cereal products, but in saying that, I do keep a supply of quality kibble (no corn, meat as first ingredient) along with a quality canned cat food as a non-perishable food item in case for some reason I haven't any meat available for them.
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Offline kris.

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Re: Ferrets and Feeder Rats
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2011, 05:10:57 PM »
Ohh, so it's like feeding dogs raw? I probably should have realized that, I've looked into that for my dogs. :doh:
So ferrets are kind of in the same boat as snakes, with some owners either not knowing or not caring that it's safer to feed something that can't fight back?
Ah, well, either way that clears up all my questions!

Thank you very much for your replies, Shooper and Critter Crazy :)

Offline craze_176

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Re: Ferrets and Feeder Rats
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2011, 03:35:21 AM »
In my experience the people who feed live to ferrets do so for the "enrichment" and mental stimulation for the ferrets. Not because they like to see animals suffer (like with some snake owners) but to give the ferret an outlet for hunting. People who do it the most humanely only allow ferrets who are skilled at making the kill to continue killing. The mouse is dead in a few seconds if the ferret has skill; some just don't get it and can draw on the suffering.

That being said; I'm not into live feeding at all. I think there are better outlets for prey drive, like playing, where no animals are hurt.

I do feed raw though and there are MANY ferret raw feeders who don't feed live, so don't confuse us! Raw is simply the best diet for them (and any carnivore) and after seeing all the problems pets have with processed food, and working around kibble all the time, I will never, ever go back. Even if that means I would only own dinky little ferrets if I couldn't afford to feed bigger carnivores properly! :P

Offline Critter Crazy

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Re: Ferrets and Feeder Rats
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2011, 06:24:57 AM »
They need to start somewhere to develope that skill. There are better ways to enrich, such as animated prey toys (I have fake mouse with sensors that squeaks & vibrates when it detects movement or is picked up, another one that just squeaks when it detects movement). Admittedly, there are some ferrets that just flat out kill from the get go with their toys, but give them something that fights back & it's a different story.

Agreed with the diet stuff. My guys get mostly fresh foods, as I said I only keep kibble & canned food as backup really. I did try them on frozen mice a couple months back, they weren't interested & went back to gnawing on the left over bones (nothing but bone stripped clean) from their previous dinner. My guys a spoilt litter blighters :)
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Offline craze_176

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Re: Ferrets and Feeder Rats
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2011, 04:45:32 PM »
Most people start with live baby mice who can't see yet and only use ferrets who catch on after one or two kills, who have a strong instinct and just need an extremely small amount of practice.

For example; Noodle could probably kill something in an instant. She has a VERY strong prey drive and always shakes and 'kills' her toys and frozen mice. She's very interested in my rats and other critters when they move around. Noodle is one to test her boundaries with cats and giant rabbits or at least size them up XD

Munchie, on the other hand, would probably stand there a bit clueless. She doesn't "get" cat toys or chase games very much and never seemed interested in the other animals. She basically ignores frozen mice unless Noodle bites into it first. Still dangerous, no doubt, but she would be a clumsy hunter when she finally did clue in. Munchie couldn't care less about cats and animals larger than herself.

I keep cans as a backup too (and I get one  or two free once in a while from work) but Munchie hates canned food. She prefers raw. Munchie only eats half the treats I bring home while Noodle sits there ecstatic she gets to gobble up everything she rejects XD

At first I really had to encourage Noodle to eat mice. She would shake it, play with it, and eat the feet and tail but didn't know what to do after that. Now she loves them and eats the heads first. I recently saw Munchie eating her leftovers which means I don't have to do the work of getting her to accept it :D


Offline RattiesSix

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Re: Ferrets and Feeder Rats
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2011, 01:28:27 AM »
Many people are uneducated when it comes to live feeding ferrets. It's actually a pretty big deal, and a lot of people d it. But also, there's a large amount of ferret owners who do use their ferrets for ferreting, so live feeding is not looked down on.

My ferret was on whole prey, but we never fed live.