Picture this: you’re sitting down for a steaming cup o’ Joe in your favorite local cafe with your closest friend–more specifically, your ferret. And as you gaze across the table at your ferret, you consider offering it a sip of your beverage. Then, it occurs to you:
Wait, can ferrets drink coffee?
It’s a good thing you asked because the answer is that generally, ferrets shouldn’t be drinking coffee. While a small amount of coffee might not be catastrophic, coffee is toxic to ferrets, and they should not drink it.
In this article, we’ll break down how coffee affects ferrets, why they shouldn’t drink it, and everything else you might need to know about the intersection of caffeinated beverages and ferret physiology.
Long story short, no, ferrets cannot drink coffee. While coffee is a widely loved beverage throughout the human world and can even be loosely correlated with better health, ferrets don’t enjoy the benefits of this bean nectar.
Even a few sips of coffee can be dangerous to a ferret. This is especially the case if the coffee is caffeinated since caffeine can wreak a ferret’s body. A ferret that consumes too much caffeine can become hyperactive, anxious, and could even die.
In short, yes. Coffee is harmful to ferrets because it’s a potent stimulant, and they have very tiny bodies. This means that the caffeine can severely overstimulate them, make them anxious, upset their stomachs, and cause serious health problems.
Imagine you were given a cup of liquid with as much caffeine as an Olympic pool full of coffee. You’d probably be careful about drinking it, right? Same basic principle.
On top of that, many of the flavorings and additives most people put in their coffee can be an equally serious hazard to a ferret. For instance, having too much sugar can put a ferret at risk for an insulinoma, a small tumor in their pancreas.
The same holds true for dairy products like milk, cream, and creamer (which still contain dairy even when it’s called non-dairy creamer): ferrets are lactose intolerant (the poor things), and too much dairy can be disastrous for their bodies.
Far be it from us to judge what all ferrets are like, but as a general rule, you can expect a ferret to like and want pretty much everything that it shouldn’t have.
This is the case, for instance, with milk and dairy products. Although ferrets are lactose intolerant, they love milk. The principle extends to other things that ferrets shouldn’t have–they can be very attracted to unhealthy things like coffee, sweets, and sports gambling (just kidding on that last one).
The noble ferret is a delicate creature, and there are, in fact, a great many things that it cannot consume.
Although ferrets can be attracted to tea and tea bags, tea is dangerous for the same reason coffee is: it has caffeine. While a few sips might not be disastrous, it’s wise to keep your ferret far away from any tea to reduce the risk of accidental over-ingestion.
Similarly, ferrets should not be guzzling carbonated beverages. Whether it’s soda, ginger ale, or seltzer, carbonated beverages are not fit for ferrets’ digestive systems, as they can’t process the gasses, artificial flavorings, or sugars that permeate the drinks. Not to mention, of course, the presence of caffeine in many of them.
Also, milk and plant-based milk like almond milk are not safe for ferrets.
What Is a Good Drink for Ferrets?
The best drink to give ferrets is as simple as it is healthy: water! Yes, that’s right, the essential ingredient for all life on planet Earth is the very best drink for your ferret.
Ferrets are thirsty critters and need to consume plenty of water throughout the day–in fact, a ferret will take a drink of water around 20 times each day!–so be sure to keep plenty of it on hand.
Of course, you should also be discerning about what kind of water to give to your ferret. Avoid polarized, ionized, or oxidized water, and see if you can get them a clean bowl of filtered water. Tap water or bottled water can be good options as well, though some ferrets don’t respond well to the chemical additives in these waters.
There are some grey areas when it comes to ferret physiology, but there are some definite no-nos as well. If you find yourself asking whether ferrets can drink coffee, the answer is a definitive no.
The high amount of caffeine in coffee makes it a severe hazard for ferrets, putting them at the risk of overstimulation, bodily harm, and death. So instead of getting your ferret an espresso at the coffee shop, consider a big bowl of filtered water.