Syringe Feeding the Ferret


Loss of appetite is a common finding in the sick ferret and nutritional support is often required. Ferrets with insulinoma may also require regular assist feedings to help maintain normal blood glucose levels. Fortunately syringe feeding the ferrets is a relatively straightforward process, however the short, simple gut of the ferret has only a limited ability to absorb nutrients. So even healthy ferrets require a highly digestible diet.


Video produced by Dr. M. Scott Echols and narrated by Dr. Natalie Antinoff.

Equipment needed

Syringe feeding the ferret

  • Prepare formula fresh for each feeding following label directions.
  • Go slowly, starting with a small amount of warm food ranging from 0.2-0.5 ml at a time.
  • To get the ferret’s attention, some individuals may need to be scruffed initially.
  • Some ferrets respond better to hand feeding so also try offering warm food on a tongue depressor.

The ferret is a true carnivore with a short simple gut. Gastrointestinal transit time may be as rapid as 3 hours, and healthy ferrets normally eat many small meals throughout the day. Ferrets are often syringe fed anywhere from 4 to 6 times daily. If the animal cannot eat much at a time, then feedings may be as frequent as every 2 to 3 hours.

Further reading

Ackerman N. Companion Animal Nutrition: A Manual for Veterinary Nurses and Technicians. Butterworth Heinemann Elsevier, St. Louis, 2008.

Banks RE, Sharp JM, Doss SD, Vanderford DA. Exotic Small Mammal Care and Husbandry. Wiley-Blackwell, Ames, 2010. P. 64.

Wolf TM. Ferrets. In: Manual of Exotic Pet Practice. Mitchell MA, Tully TN (eds). Saunders, St. Louis, 2009. Pp. 371-372.