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Can Ferrets Eat Chocolate? What You Need to Know!

Oliver Jones

Whether you prefer it rich and creamy or dark and bitter, chocolate is a widely available treat in almost every corner of the world. And with your ferret’s wily nature, grabby hands, and questing nose, you may be wondering: Can you share some of your favorite treat with your cat snake? Absolutely not! Your ferret cannot eat chocolate!

Aside from being far too sugary for their own good, chocolate can pose a serious health risk to your ferret and lead to grave injury or even death. Like almost every other animal besides humans, chocolate’s caffeine and theobromine can quickly become lethal even at small concentrations.

divider-rodentWhy is Chocolate Fine for Humans, But Not Animals?

Chocolate – Theobroma cacao – is one of mankind’s most cherished inventions and may be the most popular dessert flavor in the world. A complex preparation of fermented, roasted, and ground cacao seeds, it’s been a favorite of nobility since its discovery thousands of years ago.

Image Credit: Adonyi Gábor, Pxhere

Owing to its long history of preparation and consumption in human cultures, we seem to have developed a tolerance to it that other animals do not share. Dark chocolate has significant health benefits for humans, ranging from reduced blood pressure to reduced risk of heart disease. Where other animals cannot digest chocolate’s chemical components, humans have developed a mutually beneficial relationship with this plant that some cultures hold as sacred.

Why Is Chocolate Bad for Ferrets?

Even without considering the poisonous theobromine and caffeine, chocolate would never be a good choice to feed your ferret. They require a diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals that sugary treats simply cannot provide.

This also shines a light on your ferret’s basic dietary needs: As obligate carnivores, ferrets must subsist on a diet centered around meat. In the wild, ferrets will survive by eating whole small prey, including everything from the meat and bones to feathers, skin, and fur. With their short digestive systems and rapid metabolisms, they’ll need to eat frequently in order to provide themselves with enough of the nutrients essential to their survival.

What to Do If Your Ferret Accidentally Eats Chocolate

Whether you’ve seen your ferret eat your chocolate without permission, or strongly suspect that they’ve stolen some from you while you weren’t looking, quick action can possibly save their life.

If you’ve witnessed your ferret eating chocolate, don’t delay – take them to the vet immediately, and call ahead to let them know that there is an emergency.

If, however, you only suspect that your ferret has snuck some of your treat stash, consult the list of chocolate poisoning symptoms in the following section to determine whether this is true. At the first sign of any of the symptoms, call your vet immediately and get your ferret there as quickly as possible.

Credit: kemll, Pixabay

Signs of Chocolate Poisoning

If you’re worried that your ferret has eaten chocolate without your permission, they will show the same signs of poisoning as dogs, including the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Frequent urination
  • Shaking
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Collapse and death

While these signs can start to occur in dogs within 6 to 12 hours of ingestion, as smaller animals, ferrets tend to have much faster digestion and assimilation of foods. At the first sign of any of these symptoms, take your ferret to the vet immediately. They’ll need to have the contents of their stomach removed as fast as possible to have a chance of saving them.

divider-ferretFinal Thoughts: Don’t Feed Chocolate to Your Ferrets

We’ll say this once more, with strong emphasis: Don’t ever feed chocolate to your ferret. No matter how much they might beg and bother you for a bite of your food, ferrets need to maintain a strictly carnivorous diet. Add to that chocolate’s inherently poisonous nature towards any animal besides humans, and it’s clear that there’s no good way to feed chocolate to your ferret.

For more about ferrets check out these posts:

Featured Image Credit: jackmac34, Pixabay

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.