How can I get my Ferret to try new foods?
"I can't get my ferret to try any new treats!"
We've all heard, and maybe experienced this exact scenario again and again. Ferrets are notorious for being almost obnoxiously picky, and convincing them that a new food is indeed not poison can be arduous.
What can we do to convince our stubborn weasels to try a new food or treat? The answer is simple, though the process isn't always as easy.
First, we need to remember that ferrets imprint on their food. This means that if they haven't been exposed to a food before 6-9 months of age, they won't recognize it as food. This is akin to someone handing us something we've never seen and telling us to eat it. What is it? What do we do with it? Is it food, a toy?
We have to teach our ferrets that this object is indeed food, and it can actually be delicious.
Usually what I do is let them sniff the new food. Allow them to do this several times in a session. This gets them used to the smell of the new food.
Next, we want them to get used to the taste.
You can also coat it in something like Ferretone or salmon oil to convince them to taste it (I high discourage the use of FerretVite though).
If they're still reluctant to try the food after that, then you can "scruff and stuff" or dab a bit of the new food on their mouth, so they have to taste it. Usually they will spit it out in disgust-that is normal!
They key is repetition. Ferrets (and other animals too!) need repeated exposure to a new food to readily accept it. Too often I see "I gave my ferret some egg and he sniffed it and walked away." Offering a new food once isn't going to cut it. Be prepared to offer egg, or your treat of choice many times. Many, many times. I think it took about 10 days before I got Owen to eat soupies on his own.
Keep at it! You have to be more stubborn than they are!
I know you can do it! Good Luck!