Anyone who has owned a ferret will agree that managing their diet can be difficult.
Many people don’t know this, but ferrets are obligate carnivores. This means that they must eat meat.
While most domestic ferrets eat high-protein kibble and the occasional “meat treat,” ferrets may also enjoy insects as a part of their diet. However, not all insects are made equal, so many ferret owners question whether their ferret can eat cockroaches.
This guide will answer all of the cockroach-related questions you may have. Read on to decide whether you should incorporate roaches into your ferret’s mealtimes!
The short answer to this question is yes. There are many different types of cockroaches, though. Whether one should allow their ferret a cockroach treat depends on several factors.
In the wild, ferrets eat small mammals. These include rats, mice, and rabbits, among others. Occasionally, they eat other meat sources, like lizards, birds, and yes—insects.
Ferrets are native to North America, though domesticated ferrets descend from the European polecat. A polecat is genetically similar to a ferret.
Because of this, whether or not cockroaches are a natural part of their diet depends on if cockroaches exist in the wild where the ferrets originate.
Since cockroaches and other insects are only an occasional part of the ferret diet in the wild, domestic ferrets should not have them more than once in a while. Ferrets and their wild relatives use insects purely to supplement their diet, not staples.
It is recommended to limit insect treats to around once a week.
Yes, ferrets can eat cockroaches, and they do. However, cockroaches should not be a routine part of the ferret diet.
The ideal ferret diet is 30-40% protein and 15-20% fat. They can eat raw meat, whole prey (including the bones!), occasional treats, and/or high-quality ferret “kibble.”
Cockroaches and other insects fall under “occasional treats.” However, your ferret should not be fed cockroaches that you may find in your home. These are pests and can carry disease and bacteria.
There are unique cockroaches that can be purchased for this purpose.
When it comes to predator behaviors, a domesticated ferret may fall into one of several camps:
- Ignore: Ferrets may ignore a cockroach altogether.
- Play: A ferret might try to “capture” the cockroach and then let it go. He may bat at the roach with his paw or even bite at it and ultimately move on to something else. Some playful ferrets may kill the cockroach and then not eat it.
- Hunt and Kill: The ferret may recognize the cockroach as a source of nutrition. In this case, she will hunt and kill it. The ferret will then enjoy her snack!
Again, this depends on the ferret’s preference. Some ferrets love cockroaches and look forward to snacking on them. However, some ferrets are not fans! These ferrets are more likely to ignore or play with the cockroaches without eating them.
Even if your ferret thinks cockroaches are a tasty treat, you should still only provide them in moderation.
Ferret owners may wonder if it is safe to feed a cockroach to their ferret. Again, the answer is mainly yes.
Specially-bought “feeder” insects are safe as a weekly treat. They should not be incorporated as a daily part of your ferret’s diet, but only because they provide very little nutritional value. If you fill your ferret up on bugs, they may not eat the protein-rich diet they actually need.
Other types of cockroaches are not safe.
The American cockroach, also known as the “water bug” or “Palmetto bug,” is the large variety of cockroach most of us are used to seeing. The German cockroach is the small roach that causes significant infestations. Both of these cockroaches are pests and prone to carrying diseases and bacteria. They are NOT recommended foods for a ferret.
The most common feeder roach is the Dubia cockroach.
Yes! Dubia roaches are a safe, tasty feeder that you can give to your ferret.
Unlike pests that you may naturally find around your house or outside, Dubia roaches do not tend to carry diseases or bacteria. They are easy to care for, non-aggressive, and generally clean.
Dubia roaches, in particular, do provide some nutritional value for ferrets.
They aren’t terrific in meeting the dietary needs of these pets, but they are a source of protein and nutrients.
Some cockroaches can be bad for ferrets, such as American or German roaches or other pests.
It can be dangerous for your pet to consume these because they can transmit bacteria or illness to your ferret. If you treat your home with pesticides, these can also make your pet sick.
Sometimes, your ferret may hunt down a roach in your home. This can be scary.
Don’t worry. Your ferret will likely be okay! If it is one cockroach very occasionally, there is not a high chance of your pet getting ill.
Simply monitor his or her behavior for changes or signs of illness, and contact your vet if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
Yes, they can! Because ferrets usually have food and water in their cage, their habitat will attract roaches. Roaches eat just about anything and are attracted to any source of water and food.
To get rid of them, you may want to ask a professional. Clean up any food your ferret is not eating. Do not put roach killer near or around your pet’s cage!
There are a lot of questions surrounding whether or not ferrets can eat cockroaches. Your ferret can safely enjoy a commercially-bred feeder cockroach, such as a Dubia roach, as an occasional treat. You should never let your ferret eat household pests.