Grab N Dab (Hand Feeding)

Grab N Dab

Author: Heather Downie

The question… to switch a ferret to eat real food instead of the crack in a bag they’re presently being fed. Good question. How strong willed are you? Hopefully stronger willed than your ferret(s). Age has a bit to do with how easy your switch will go. That being said, any ferret can be switched. The oldest ferret I’ve ever switched was a wee 9 yrs old marshals , she-fert, whom came to be known as Babushka. Was it difficult, of course it was. It took me about 3 months. Was it worth it….yes, very much worth it. It was wonderful to see her eyes brighten, her coarse thin coat become thick, soft, to see weight on that thin frame. Yes, it was worth it. A ferret becomes ingrained on the food they’re weaned onto by the time they’re 6 to 9 months. The switch and how easily it will go, only in part relies on age, some of the switch has to do with your ferret’s personality and of course…..your personality and your real desire to switch your ferret to a natural diet.

The first method we’re going to mention is simple enough. It requires the soupy recipe in the files. All you need is that bowl of soupy and the unwilling ferret. Place the soupy on the floor….join the ferret for a game of catch the ferret. It’s simple enough. Catch the ferret, dip your finger in the bowl, place soupied finger on the tip of the ferret’s nose, making sure that soupy is smeared on said ferret’s nose. You will get one of two reactions…..said ferret will lick soupy off nose and your finger and ask for more at the very least will show interest…comply with the ferret and see if you can convince the ferret to take from the bowl. Release and repeat.

The second reaction is more disturbing for most people but equally common. The ferret will wiggle free, gag, retch, stick their paws in their mouth as they try and remove the foul taste from their mouth. Their ability to earn an Emmy for melodrama is only equal to their ability for stubbornness. So, let the game begin. You play something else for a few more minutes and then repeat the feeding exercise. You keep this up for as long as it takes. Sometimes it’s easier to start this game over a weekend when there is nothing else going on. This can take hours, days, weeks, depending on how you want to pursue this. Whatever you do, it can’t be done on occasion, or “when you’ve got time”. The idea is to move this along as quickly as possible. If you keep this up over the weekend you should have them at least tasting by the end of the weekend, more than likely, your ferret will be at least eating off the spoon. Through the following week you take an hour to play, and finger or spoon feed. The longer you put off or stretch the switch out, the more difficult it becomes as your ferret will figure out if they hold out they will get the kibble reward.


  • Remove kibble for at least an hour before starting your attempt at switching.
  • Do not do this half an hour before your due for work or school
  • Make it fun. The more stressful you make it the harder it will be for you to switch your ferret
  • Remember, this isn’t just a passing fancy. Be stubborn, be firm. This is going to be a lifestyle
    change for your ferret. You have to believe, understand and commit. If you wouldn’t allow
    your children to eat cookies for 3 meals a day, why are you going to let your ferrets.
  • You have to believe there is no options. If you rely on kibble as a fall back, you’ve already lost part of the battle…..don’t consider this a trick, think about it. If you realize that your ferret would starve if it didn’t eat kibble, how would you proceed?