Live prey is a topic that everyone may have seen discussed on ferret groups at some stage. Anyone without added laws holding them back and who have a known good hunter may decide on live prey as it is the most enriching way to feed between all three methods of feeding. They are all, to some degree enriching depending on how you decide to feed it.
Live prey really gets the ferret involved as they need to use their head to calculate the kill. Frozen thawed wholeprey can be warmed up slightly (eg. Bagged prey in warm water), however it will not be the same as a freshly dispatched prey item or a live prey item. Ferrets, providing they have been taught to consume the prey, will consume it regardless though.
Not all ferrets will be good candidates for live prey hunting, nor will all ferrets consume their prey freshly hunted. Some live feeders may fast for 2-3 or so hours before they do live prey feeding. (Kind of like how you remove kibble before trying raw.) This is more so they will consume their prey after making the kill, but keep in mind that it does not guarantee the ferret will consume the meal right after making a kill. ALSO Please note that you should never fast a ferret for longer than 3-4 hours.
Legalities of Live Feeding:
Oh the fun part about this subject! Before you even consider the idea of live prey, what is the first thing you must do? Check your local laws! Dun Dun Dun~ Live prey is not a legal thing everywhere you go, so making sure it is legal before you even do it is an absolute MUST.
Please note that when I mention “Live Prey” I am referring to vertebrate Live Prey.
Live feeding of live vertebrates is a legally grey area in both the UK and Australia. However it is generally considered to be illegal since the act of doing live prey can so easily clash with multiple Animal Welfare legislation in both countries.
In Australia there is no national laws applying to animal welfare, so this means the legality of feeding live prey depends entirely upon the relevant State/Territory legislation and relevant code of practice.
In the UK, feeding any vertebrate animal to another animal is an example of unnecessary suffering as defined under section four of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, & by the deterrents of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, offenders are punishable by up to 51 weeks imprisonment, a fine of up to £20,000 or both. It is similar to the The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (Vic/AUS), A person who knowingly or negligently does any act with the result being unnecessary, unreasonable or unjustifiable pain or suffering to any animal could land themselves 12 months of jail time if proven to be guilty of cruelty to animals.
Though, there may potentially be ways around these, however it is incredibly difficult and would probably only apply to certain reptiles anyway, so this makes it a safer option to avoid Live Feeding of Vertebrates when you live in a country where legalities may be a tricky issue. There is apparently no issue with live feeding invertebrates however.
Some parts of the US may also have laws against it. I am unable to locate appropriate information on this topic in regards to the US or even Canada, so regardless of where you live, please do check local laws regarding live prey if you do have an interest. There are some countries that take animal welfare very seriously. ^_^;;;;
I will try to update this if I come across relevant information.