Can Ferrets Eat Tuna? An Animal Based Protein

can ferrets eat tuna

Ferrets can only eat tuna if it is given in small amounts. Do not make tuna part of the main diet of your ferret. Try to avoid giving canned tuna as it’s high in sodium.

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What Is Tuna?

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A tuna is a sea fish that falls under the Thunnini group, which is part of the mackerel family known as Scombridae. There are 15 different species of tuna, varying in size and characteristics. The most well-known species include bluefin, yellowfin, skipjack, and albacore.

What is the Nutritional Content Of Tuna?

According to WebMD, The following is the nutritional content of 4 ounces of white tuna

Protein26.77 grams
Fat3.37 grams
Carbohydrates 0 gram
Fiber 0 gram
Sugar0 gram

Why Ferrets Cannot Eat Tuna?

Tuna is not recommended as a regular part of a ferret’s diet because it is high in histamine, mercury and unsaturated fats which can lead to health problems if fed in excess.

By looking at the nutritional content of tuna it can be known that tuna is high in calories, protein but low in fat, carbohydrates, fiber and sugar.

Having a low carbohydrate, fiber and sugar count can be beneficial towards ferrets as their dietary requirements consists of having a low carbohydrate, fiber and sugar content.

But these things do not cover up the major disadvantages of feeding tuna to ferrets such as high levels of unsaturated fatty acids which can cause the inflammation of fat if adequate amounts of vitamin E is not included in the diet according to the Biology and Diseases of the Ferret, Third Edition

The mercury amount in tuna is also high compared to other animal-based foods. According to a research done done by PubMed Central on ferrets being fed chickens that consumed at most 20 mg of mercury that caused clinical symptoms such as

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weakness of the extremities
  • Trembling
  • Twitching of the head
  • Incoordination
  • Ataxia
  • Paralysis
  • Apathy
  • Periods of excitation

Canned tuna is high in magnesium ammonium phosphate, which can lead to the formation of urinary stones in ferrets if fed in large amounts according to the Biology and Diseases of the Ferret, Third Edition. Urinary stones can cause blockages in the urinary tract, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Lastly, tuna is a fish that is high in sodium, which can lead to dehydration and other health problems in ferrets if fed in large amounts.

What Can I Feed My Ferrets Instead Of Tuna?

Feed your ferrets high quality chicken, beef, lamb, cooked eggs(as a treat) instead of feeding them tuna as it is part of the conventional ferret diet.

What Are the Feeding Guidelines To Feed Tuna To Your Ferret?

The following are the feeding guidelines to feed tuna to your ferret

  • Limit the amount of tuna given to your ferret to occasional small servings.
  • A few bites of tuna fish or a teaspoon-sized portion of ferret tuna once or twice a month should suffice.
  • Avoid making tuna a regular part of their daily diet.

Can Ferrets Eat Other Fish?

While fish is a good source of protein and fats for your ferrets it is not recommended to feed your ferret with large amounts of fish due to high levels of unsaturated fats which causes inflammation of fats.

What Are Some Other Harmful Foods For Your Ferret?

harmful human foods for ferrets

Some common human foods can cause digestive issues or even be toxic for these small animals. Avoid feeding your ferret the following:

  • Any non-animal-based food.
  • Fruits such as carrots, apples, and many more.
  • Chocolates
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

Gradually introducing new foods

It’s important to do so gradually when adding new food items, including tuna, to your ferret’s diet. Abrupt changes in their diet can cause digestive upset or other health problems.

Start by mixing small amounts of the new food with their regular ferret food pellets. Monitor their response and gradually increase the proportion of the new food over time.

Consulting a veterinarian

Consult with a veterinarian who specializes in exotic pets before adding any new foods items or treats to your ferret’s diet.

They will provide guidance based on your individual ferret’s nutritional needs and any specific health concerns they may have.

Remember that while tuna is safe for occasional consumption by ferrets, it should not make up a significant portion of their diet.

Always prioritize balanced nutrition through high-quality commercial ferret food and consult with a vet before making any major changes.

Our Perspective On “Can Ferrets Eat Tuna?”

Feeding tuna to your ferret can be a nutritious addition to their diet when done safely and in moderation.

However, it’s important to exercise caution and follow some guidelines to ensure your ferret’s well-being.

Feeding tuna as part of a ferret’s regular diet is harmful because it contains high levels of unsaturated fats, mercury, histamine which can be harmful for your ferrets.

Furthermore, remember that while tuna can be a tasty treat for your furry friend, it should not replace their regular balanced diet of high-quality ferret food. Try to give foods that are animal based, high in protein, low in carbohydrates and fiber.

By following these guidelines and consulting with a veterinarian if needed, you can safely provide your ferret with the occasional indulgence of this fishy delight.


Can I feed my ferret other types of fish?

While small amounts of certain fish like salmon or whitefish may be safe for ferrets in moderation, it’s crucial to avoid feeding them any fish that is high in mercury levels or has bones. Stick to low-mercury options like cooked salmon or whitefish fillets without any added seasonings.

How often should I feed my ferret tuna?

Tuna should only be given as an occasional treat due to its high levels of mercury. Limit feeding tuna to once or twice a month at most and ensure it makes up only a small portion of their overall diet.

Are there any signs of tuna intolerance in ferrets?

Some ferrets may have adverse reactions to tuna, such as vomiting or diarrhea. If you notice any negative symptoms after feeding your ferret tuna, it’s best to discontinue offering it and consult with a veterinarian.

Can I give my ferret canned tuna in water?

While canned tuna in water is generally safer than those packed in oil, it is still recommended to opt for fresh-cooked tuna whenever possible. If using canned tuna, make sure it does not contain any added salt or seasonings that could be harmful to your ferret.

Are there alternative protein sources for my ferret besides fish?

Yes, there are plenty of other protein options for your ferret, such as chicken, turkey, and eggs. These can provide a well-rounded diet while minimizing the potential risks associated with feeding fish.

Last Updated on 28 December 2023

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