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Can Ferrets Eat Bananas? What You Need to Know!

Oliver Jones

Dreamy, creamy, tropical deliciousness – to many, bananas are the classic breakfast food and go to for mid-day snacks! Something so sweet and interesting smelling may even attract the attention of your ferret. First off, let’s be clear for all the worried ferret parents that just noticed a bite missing from their breakfast: bananas are not toxic to ferrets.

A critical follow-up, however, is that you still should not feed your ferret bananas. Or any fruits or vegetables for that matter!

Allowing your ferret to eat vegetables or fruits can have dangerous short and long-term effects on their health and wellbeing. In this article, we’re going tell you how bananas are bad for ferrets, why that is, and what health concerns may arise from ingesting excessive amounts.

And because sometimes those wickedly clever cat snakes won’t take “no you can’t eat that!” for an answer, we’ll also give some info and tips on healthy treats you can feed them instead.

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Can Banana Be Bad for Ferrets?

Yes, even though bananas are not toxic, they can be bad for ferrets.

The best that can be said about bananas is that they confer no real nutrients to a ferret at all. Which isn’t very comforting – think about the terrible stomach aches you’ve had in your life due to eating something you shouldn’t have!

And at the worst, eating complex carbs like bananas can cause a laundry list of severe health issues: serious digestive upset, tooth decay, and even cancerous tumors.

Obligate Carnivores

Ferrets are what we call obligate carnivores – meaning their digestive tracts are designed for meat and they must eat it to survive. In fact, they cannot digest fiber or complex carbohydrates at all.

And that’s because these fuzzy little carnivores do not have a cecum. The cecum is a portion of the intestines found in omnivores and herbivores that produces bacteria that break down and help digest complex carbs like fruit and vegetables.

The indigestible fiber and sugar in bananas can clog your poor little buddy’s intestines, cause constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and general gastrointestinal distress.

sliced banana
Image: Pexels

Pancreatic Cancer

Though a little bite of banana may not hurt your ferret immediately, the incredibly high sugar content can also contribute to long term problems.

Ferrets allowed to eat high sugar and high carbohydrate foods are more susceptible to insulinoma in their middle-aged and older years. Insulinoma is a disease that is a little like ferret diabetes, but is characterized by tumors in the pancreas.

This condition can cause brain damage and quickly become life-threatening if not addressed. Symptoms of insulinoma tend to appear slowly and then continue to increase in severity:

  • Bouts of lethargy that progress in severity
  • Unresponsive fainting spells that last up to a few hours
  • Pawing at the mouth and excessive salivation
  • Weakness in the hind limbs

Due to how common this condition is and the severity of it, veterinarians recommend that all ferrets over the age of three get their blood glucose levels checked about once every 6 months.

  • Looking for the right food for your ferret? Read our reviews here

Tooth Decay

We know that after cancer nothing sounds quite as scary, but tooth decay is another serious issue that high sugar fruits like bananas can cause.

Just like their digestive system isn’t designed for eating carbs and sugars, their teeth aren’t either. Because they do not eat any in the wild, a ferret’s teeth are particularly susceptible to the corrosive effects of sugar and it can cause a host of dental issues like tooth decay.

Other Diseases Caused by Poor Diet

  • Lymphoma
  • Adrenal disease

The long and the short of it really boils down to this: don’t feed your ferret bananas! Or, for that matter, any other fruits or vegetables. The added risk factors for developing chronic, life-threatening diseases are just too high.

But you may be asking yourself after all this talk of how certain foods are bad for ferrets, what are some good ones? If so, read on!

bananas
Image: Pixabay

What Treats CAN You Give Your Ferret?

The best diet for a ferret is one high in proteins, fats, and calories. Your ferret’s diet should be comprised of about 31-38% protein and 14-20% fat. Ferrets should have incredibly little to no fiber, sugar, or carbohydrates in their regular meals.

But some ferrets are attracted to the smell and sweet flavor of bananas and other sugary carbs. If your rascally little friend just can’t keep their nose out of your fruit salad, try giving them a variety of treats that are nutritious and delicious!

There are many other possible treats for your ferret, most of which are some type of raw meat. Here is a list of just a few choices for healthy treats for your furry friend:

  • Baby foods with high meat content
  • Insects like crickets
  • Eggs (raw or cooked, with no seasoning)
  • Raw animal bones (which can help clean their teeth and provide calcium)
  • Raw fowl like chicken, turkey, pigeon, or game birds
  • Other raw animal meat like rabbit, lamb, and minced beef
  • Animals organs from any of those listed above like livers, hearts, and kidneys
  • Frozen or pre-killed whole prey animals like mice, rats, and chicks
  • Small amounts of cooked meats

Your local exotic vet will be able to give you even more information about healthy treats and a well-balanced diet for your ferret!

Check out our reviews on top ferret toys here

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Final Thoughts on Feeding Banana to Your Ferret

If your ferret thieves a bite from your banana, it is not an emergency.

But the conclusion ferret parents should take away from this article is that you should not feed your ferret bananas.

For obligate carnivores like a ferret, fruits and veggies just don’t work for their digestive system. To keep your sweet cat snake healthy and happy, just say no to bananas and other high sugar and high carb foods!


Featured Image: Pixnio

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.