HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR AFRICAN PYGMY HEDGEHOG
Copyright © 1999 - Laura Mowrey - All Rights Reserved
Hedgies can be very stubborn about the foods they'll eat. It took months to get mine off the cat food (of
questionable quality) diet they'd been raised on for the first year of their life before I knew any better. What
the correct diet for hedgehogs actually is, continues to be a subject many claim to know best about,
when the truth is, we are all still guessing what that is (to a point). Please understand that the
diet I am about to present to you is just my own opinion, based on years of owning hedgehogs and
studying what their habits are in the wild.
DINNER: Every night for dinner my hh's get minced cooked skinless, unseasoned chicken breast meat,
always topped with a tiny-tiny amount of phos-free calcium to balance the calcium/phos ratio (very
important)....and occasionally I will substitute that with turkey, fish such as salmon, cod or
flounder and or shrimp. On top of that I add a small amount of several varieties of chopped fresh, raw fruits and
vegetables. I top this with a tiny, tiny pinch of Missing Link, (or) 1 drop of
Essential Spectrum Max oil, a small pinch of pro-biotic enzymes and about 6 crickets
each, and or beetles, and several pieces of dry pelleted food such a low fat Innova.
About twice a week they will get a tiny bit of low fat or fat free cottage cheese.
BREAKFAST: In the morning, they get a few more pieces of Innova with 1 or 2 mealworms, and or
sometimes additional crickets.
Spicket enjoying a meal of chicken, a variety of fruits and vegetables,
crickets and Innova.
REMEMBER: Hedgehogs are insectivores and that tells us right there, that insects should be a major
part of their diet, not just an occasional "treat". They are also known to eat small baby birds, mice,
lizards etc....if given the chance, thus the addition of poultry as another protein source....cannot
quite bring myself to offer baby birds, mice and or small reptiles, sorry! We do also know
that they do consume some vegetation, so I add that too. Some of the produce mine will eat is as
Apples, bananas, peaches, carrots, sweet potatoes, radishes, turnips, melons, grapes, green peppers, cherries,
green beans, dandelion greens, and asparagus. They love peas and corn, but neither one of those if
very good for them due to the high phosphorous and sugar content. Asparagus is a good source
of Vitamin B.
I buy my insects in bulk through Fluker Farms and or Rainbow. I then immediately
throw them in the freezer and once frozen, I transfer them to an airtight container lined with
paper towels. Every night I take out the desired amount, and let thaw a couple minutes and serve. They
devour them just fine this way. they freeze well and this way there is no waste or smell. Mealworms
freeze well too. I also keep a mealworm farm...its very small and I don't use it to breed more
worms. Instead I wait till they pupate into beetles and feed them the beetles. It adds yet more variety
to their diet and they love them.
An example of the difference in size between King Mealworms and regular, smaller mealworms. King mealworms can deliver quite a painful bite.
In addition to live crickets and mealworms, you can also get both in the dehydrate
d form. These are suitable as treats, but I wouldn't use them in place of live insects.
NUTRITIONAL COMPONENTS OF INSECTS:
WHERE TO ORDER INSECTS:
Hedgehog Welfare Society.Ruby's Rescue Shop sells a variety of
dried insects and insect/berry treats (as well as many other great items). And by buying from them, your
supporting an organization who helps find homes for unwanted hedgehogs all over the USA!!
Fluker Farms.Crickets, mealworms (both live and freeze dried) wax worms,
earth worms and fruit flies.
Rainbow MealwormsCrickets, mealworms (both live and freeze dried),
sweetworms, wax worms, Superworms, Giant Gold and Giant Red worms.
New York Worms.Butterworms, earthworms, wax worms, superworms, Trevo worms,
and wingless fruitflies.
Bio-Control:Flies in every form; live and dried.
Ed's Fly Meat:Rice flour beetles and fruit flies.
The Worm Man:Roly-Poly Bugs.
**VERY IMPORTANT! Do not feed wild caught insects to your
hedgehog!! They can carry parasites, pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Be equally careful about feeding any
plant material from outside unless you know it is safe. Wash thoroughly first.
MISSING LINK adds essential Omega Fatty Acids in their diet, which also serves to protect their
nervous system. Almost everyone’s diets are lacking in these fatty acids. You can also purchase a
product called Spectrum Essential Max in the refrigeration section of many health food stores. It
contains Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids making it even more superior then Missing Link. If your local heath
food store doesn't carry this particular brand, I am sure they will have another brand to offer you.
Spectrum Natural's Website
Missing Link Website
PROBIOTIC ENZYMES go into the digestive system and help the body draw out more nutrients from the
food it has eaten. It then helps to utilize those nutrients in a more efficient manner.
ACIDOPHILUS should always be given when they are on antibiotics to keep the good and bad bacteria
balance in check and to prevent yeast infections. It is also not a bad idea just to add a tiny
amount to their food once or twice a week to help keep their intestinal systems in balance.
BUY QUALITY MEAT: The chicken I use is organic and free range, as they contain no hormones or
antibiotics. For 2 hh's, you could microwave just 1 breast and get enough meals for 3 nights. I always make my
food up for 3 days at a time. The only thing I don't add to them is the insects....I wait till right
before serving to do that.
GO SLOW, and be patient when changing their diets. Hedgies can be notoriously stubborn accepting
new foods. Keep the old food mixed in and then you can slowly remove it. Remember what I told
you...it took literally months to get my hh's to accept this diet, buy they have thrived on it now for 4 years
and I have old gal hedgie named Spicket, who is almost 6 years old now.
COMMERCIAL FOODS: One thing I would caution against...and that is the use of feeding any
commercially prepared foods whether its a hh food, cat food, or whatever, that contains chemical preservatives,
by-products, or any other sub-standard ingredients. Some of the brands of cat food I've used
are listed below, along with their phone numbers. All these companies use human-grade ingredients with
whole grains...and specific oils rather then "animal" oils which could mean a potpourri of just about
anything. There are no chemical preservatives and no by-products, and all three are rated as 3 of the
top 10 commercially prepared foods in the country for cats and dogs in the US by the Whole Dog Journal.
Some pet animal food companies that argue that by-products are acceptable aren't "entirely" wrong.
In the wild, certainly, when an animal kills and consumes prey, it eats the by-product of that
animal, which could be anything from fur, feathers, feet, etc. but along with the by-products, it is also
consuming the rest of its prey, in other words, its getting the "full meal deal", NOT just what is left over
after all the best parts are removed. If you would like to try any of the above mentioned foods and cannot locate
them, you can call the companies toll free and inquire as to where they might sell their products in your area:
EAGLE PACK HOLISTIC: 1-800-255-5959
PINNACLE / BREEDERS CHOICE: 1-800-255-4286
CALIFORNIA NATURAL: 1-800-532-7261
ROYAL CANIN: 1-800-592-6687
NATURAL BALANCE: 1-800-829-4493
SOME ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES:
COMMERCIAL FOODS "SHOULD" CONTAIN:
** Superior sources of protein, meaning either whole, fresh
meats or single-source meat meal (example, chicken meal rather then poultry meal).
** A whole-meal source as one of the first 2 ingredients
(chicken or chicken meal for instance).
**Whole, unprocessed grains, vegetables and other foods. An
unprocessed food has a great chance of having its nutrients and enzymes intact.
COMMERCIAL FOODS SHOULD "NOT" CONTAIN:
**Meat by Products. These second-class products are not
handled as carefully as whole meat and their nutritional content could be questionable.
**Fats or proteins named generically. For example, "animal
fat" or "meat meal" (as opposed to the better quality "beef fat" or "chicken fat" or "lamb meal".
The generic term indicates that the ingredient is actually a mixed bag of ingredients, coming from
any number of sources.
**Food fragments (brewer's rice, corn gluten, etc.) This item
is the least odious on the list. Most foods contain at least one fragment, as makers economize where it
least hurts the food.
**Artificial Preservatives including BHA,
BHT or Ethoxquin, which according to some homeopathic publications has caused
everything from cancer to kidney disease, birth defects, liver disease and so on.
**Sweeteners including corn syrup, sucrose, and ammoniated
glycyrrhizin, added to attract animals to unappealing food.
**Propylene Glycol. Toxic when consumed in large amounts, this
is added to some "chewy" foods to keep them moist.
There has been some discussion about the addition of Vitamin E, selenium, and the B complexes to our hh's diets.
I prefer to feed foods that contain fair amounts of these elements naturally if possible. If you do
supplement, do so very, very sparingly! The following is a list of foods that your hedgehog could eat
that contains some of these elements:
SELENIUM: Selenium is essential to the health of the heart muscle and to aid Vitamin E in the
prevention of free radical formation, which is possible cause of cancer. The selenium content of foods varies
with the selenium content of the soil where the food was grown. However, the following list gives you
some most reliable dietary sources of this mineral that your hedgehog may eat: chicken, enriched
pasta/spaghetti, brown rice, cod, flounder, lobster and sole.
VITAMIN E: This vitamin is widely believed to have an important role in protecting our cell
membranes from wear and tear. Some evidence indicates that the vitamin can facilitate the healing of burns and
wounds when topically applied. It also helps to prevent free radical formation, believed to be a factor
in the cause of cancer. Wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, cod liver oil, soybean oil, sesame seed oil,
VITAMIN B1: Found in the cells of the body and is essential for many metabolic processes such as
the conversion of food into energy, the manufacture of fat, protein metabolism, and the use of oxygen by
the tissues. Asparagus, dandelion greens, enriched pasta and brown rice.
VITAMIN B2: Helps the body convert proteins, fat and carbs into energy. It is needed for building
and maintaining body tissues, and for protecting the body against any skin and eye disorders.
Cottage cheese, asparagus.
VITAMIN B3: Basically this does the same job as Vitamin B1. Asparagus, banana, chicken, peaches,
VITAMIN B6: This is needed to enable one to digest and manufacture protein to replace worn-out
tissues. It is also crucial to the proper functioning of the nervous system and intestines. A deficiency causes
anemia and deterioration of the nervous system. Chicken, whitefish.
PET FOOD RECALL OFFICIAL SITE
Washington state consumer complaints
to the FDA can be directed to
following phone number:
Copyright 2000 Laura Roberts. All rights reserved.
Image created by: Bryan Smith
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