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|Nutrition Overview | Diet Recommendations | Diet During Transition | Hedgehog Food Comparison
Hedgehog Treats | Insects a La Carte
Selecting a diet is one of the most important decisions you can make for your pet. This guide contains diet recommendations that are based on information we have gathered from other breeders (both large and small scale), nutrition experts, veterinarians, and other experts, as well as our own 10+ years of hedgehog breeding experience. Diet plays an important role in reproduction, growth of babies, the overall health of your pet, and in longevity. We have attempted to address basic hedgehog nutrition in our Nutrition Overview article.
Our hedgehog diet has evolved over the years and will probably change in the future as we learn more and new products are developed. We have tried and tested just about every hedgehog specific food out there as well as many other breeder recommendations. We have found there are several factors that should be considered when selecting a diet:
- Nutritional content. Not all foods are created equal, but keep in mind the perfect food has not yet been determined.
- Accessibility and convenience. Once a food has been determined to be nutritionally fit it must be easily accessible to both the breeder and their customers. In addition, complicated diets present a problem from a breeder’s perspective and complicated diets are less likely for the average pet owner to follow over an extended period of time.
- Nutritional value compared to cost. Cost plays a part for both the average breeder and pet owner when selecting a diet. It is important that nutrition is not sacrificed for sake of cutting expenses but it is only logical that breeders and pet owners choose the more economical versions of equivalent foods.
Follow Breeder Recommendations
- Whether purchasing from Millermeade Farms or from another breeder, it is important to follow the breeder’s recommendations for at least the first month of transition. A transition should be started right away only if the current diet is not nutritionally sound or if the hedgehog begins to develop problems.
- Countless times I personally have experienced and witnessed the results of switching foods and keeping animals on the same food. Some species of animals such as mice, rats, and hamsters transition quite well. Other species such as rabbits, sugar gliders and hedgehogs have a much trickier time in transition.
- Only buy quality animals and maintain that integrity. I firmly believe that different bloodlines become accustomed to certain diets and switching foods can create an imbalance in those animals. I have seen this play out in breeding and showing rabbits as well as countless other animals.
- Millermeade Farms no longer supplies a week’s worth of food with our animals. We have found that a week is not enough transition time to a new food. Purchasing food separately from the animals helps you to identify both the initial cost of your pet and reoccurring expenses you will have for the life of your pet. Our Diet During Transition guide gives more details on this subject.
- I have found that variety is an important key to hedgehog nutrition. Variety is discussed below and in our Nutrition Overview.
Variety in Diet
- A varied diet is probably the safest way to meet a hedgehog’s unique and somewhat mysterious nutritional requirements.
- Providing a variety of foods will help to prevent your hedgehog from becoming attached to only one food. You could have a serious problem with your hedgehog not eating if your pet is attached to one food and that food becomes unavailable or you run out.
- Changes in diet are more easily made if only a portion of the varied diet is changed rather than an entire change in diet.
- Millermeade Farms uses a blend of three different foods in our staple.
- Spike’s Delite Premium Hedgehog Food (described below) is the one food that never changes in our diet.
- Our current high quality cat food of choice is Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul Lite made by Diamond Pet Products. This holistic food is made from quality ingredients and is very reasonably priced.
- Special Kitty cat food is what I would consider the hedgehog version of “French fries” in our food mix. Our hedgehogs love the taste of this food and will often pick it out of the mix first. Keep in mind, just because they love the taste doesn’t mean it is the best food for them.
- It is always a good idea to switch foods gradually to ensure your hedgehog is accepting of the new food.
- We provide our customers with the opportunity to purchase Spike’s Delite and we strongly encourage each of our hedgehog customers to do so. We will have you sign a note on your receipt if you choose not to purchase these foods. We want you to acknowledge that you understand the potential problems that you may encounter and that you are willing to accept these risks of not following our transition suggestions if you choose not to purchase these foods.
- If you choose to use only one food I would recommend Spike’s Delite Hedgehog Food. A single, adult hedgehog will eat approximately one heaping tablespoon to ¼ cup of Spike’s Delite per day.
- I believe Spike’s Delite is a superior hedgehog food for the following reasons:
- The premium diet has an excellent protein and fat content of 32% protein and 12% fat
- It contains six sources of protein (chicken meal, soybean meal, extruded whole soy-meal, fish meal, whole dried eggs, and blood meal) with chicken meal being the main ingredient. A variety of protein sources provides a variety of amino acids to your pet.
- Spike’s Delite is the optimal kibble size for both babies and adults. It is large enough that it can be picked up easily but still small enough for babies and adults to chew easily.
- The Spike’s Delite kibble is hard enough to provide a crunch and to help clean teeth but it absorbs water or broth readily to make a suitable mash for hedgies with special needs.
- Extrusion method processing for maximum digestibility. The method of processing dramatically affects the quality of nutrients available and how the nutrients are used by the animal. More information about this type of processing is available by request.
- Celated trace minerals – a process by which trace elements are combined with an amino acid which allows for immediate absorption of the minerals. Very few foods contain this benefit.
- It contains higher amounts of potassium and lower amounts of iron than traditional cat food. The current formula is based on recommendations made by many respectable breeders after years of use.
- No added pesticides or preservatives.
- Four varieties designed to meet the nutritional needs throughout various stages of life.
- Spike’s Delite is made by Pet-Pro Products, an exotic animal feed company, and is not available at most pet stores. You can order direct at by calling toll-free 1-877-977-8310. Free samples are available for new customers. You will receive a 10% discount if you mention that “Gail Dick” is your sales representative.
- I suggest keeping Spike’s Delite in the refrigerator since it does not contain added pesticides or strong preservatives.
Mink Gro-Fur/Select Diet
- Milk Specialties makes a food called Mink-Gro Fur that is often repacked and labeled as Select Diet.
- It is a very dark, small, semi-soft pellet that high in fat and protein.
- We use Select Diet for our nursing mothers, young and weanling babies, and any other hedgehog that has eating issues or needs to gain a little weight.
- We strongly suggest purchasing a small bag of Select with your hedgehog.
- This food has proven to be an excellent booster for animals in transition into new homes.
- It helps to encourage eating since the hedgehogs love the high fat and protein, it sooths upset stomachs, and provide extra calories for growing babies.
- This food is very rich and can be a major contributor to obesity so you should take care that your hedgehog doesn’t pick out and eat only the booster food.
- It is also somewhat difficult to find and purchase. We buy directly from Mink Specialties company in 50# bags.
- Just about any information that you read will have slightly various recommendations and use preferences of cat foods.
- High quality foods are certainly good for your pet and are frequently fed by hedgehog enthusiasts.
- Large-scale breeders produce many of the hedgehogs in the U.S., European, and Japanese pet markets. Large scale breeders have found that what some would consider lower quality foods, have actually been proven as an adequate diet on a large number of animals for many years. These breeders must be concerned about the overall health of their animals because without successful production and healthy offspring they would not be able to support their business.
- I have been fortunate enough to be able to discuss hedgehog nutrition with several large-scale breeders and I have found that each breeder has come to their own conclusion as what has produced the best results for their herd.
- I have also been fortunate enough to have purchased animals from several experienced, larger scale breeders and I can attest that their animal do best when they are maintained on the diet recommended by that breeder.
- I am certainly not advocating feeding hedgehogs junk, but I do think we under estimate the value of some foods and one must pay careful attention to breeder recommendations.
Generally Accepted as Excellent Cat Foods
|Authority Adult Cat
Chicken Soup for the Cat Lovers Soul
Exclusive Light/Hairball Control
Pet Gold- Adult Cat Light
Royal Canin Lite 37 or 38
Cat Foods Used In Moderation
Purina Indoor Cat
Nutro (large kibble size)
Unlimited Free Feeding vs Daily Monitored Feeding
- I found just as many differences in opinions on this topic while doing research for this care guide as I have found with other topics.
- There are some people that firmly believe that hedgehogs should have food in front of them at all times and some believe hedgehogs will not over-eat.
- Please note: baby hedgehogs, nursing moms, or slim body type hedgehogs should not be limited in the amount of food but at the same time their food intake should be monitored closely.
- Advantages of daily monitored feeding
- My own experience is contrary to the free-feeding belief. It is very common in many animal species to only be fed once per day. Daily rationed feeding helps to prevent over-eating, obesity, and the health problems associated with obesity. Most human diet plans are based on this same principal.
- We believe that monitoring your hedgehog’s food intake will keep your hedgehog from getting too fat.
- Obesity and its associated health disorders are very common problems in pet hedgehogs.
- Daily monitored feeding will let you know if it has stopped eating. If your hedgehog suddenly stops eating you need to find out why it isn’t eating.
- We prefer to give our fresh food rather than allowing some food to sit out for what may be a period of several days
- Determining the appropriate amount during daily monitored feeding
- We recommend that you give your adult hedgehog only enough food so that it is completely gone or almost gone the same time the next day. You should give your hedgehog enough so that your hedgehog doesn’t act like it is starving at its next meal. This will be 1 Tablespoon to ¼ cup depending on your hedgehog (its metabolism, stage of growth and activity level) and the quality of food.
- If you feed your hedgehog in the evening and it acts hungry in the morning give it a little more food but not so much that it has lots of food remaining in the evening.
- We prefer to feed our hedgehogs one portion, one time a day but some people prefer to feed two smaller portions each day.
- Your hedgehog will adjust to feeding at any time during the day or evening but it is important to be consistent in that you feed at the same time every day.
- Proper food storage is essential to keeping your food fresh. This protects not only the integrity of the food nutritionally but it helps to maintain the palatability of the food for your pet.
- We suggest purchasing a food storage container from your local dollar store or variety store. A good sized container with a screw-top lid can usually be found for around a dollar.
- A portion of food can be kept in a sealed container close to your hedgehog’s cage for easy access. We suggest the remaining portion of the food be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
- We also suggest taking a Sharpie or other permanent marker and writing the number of Pet-Pro Products, where you will order Spike’s Delite, on the lid of the container. The toll-free number is 1-877-977-8310. Don’t forget to tell them you are one of my customers to save 10%.
- Another suggestion is to start a food log on your container so you know how frequently you have to purchase food.
- Freezing extra portions of food is another option. The food should be tightly sealed, preferably with a vacuum sealer if possible. Be sure to move the food from the freezer to the refrigerator rather than directly to room temperature. Food moved directly to room temperature will develop condensation which can cause spoilage.
- We have found that other pets such as cats and dogs also love the taste of Spike’s Delite and Select Diet. On several occasions customers have called in a panic because their hedgehog food was devoured by other pets. Storage containers are a great way to prevent this problem.
Diet and Exercise
- Exercise is another critical component to keeping your pet healthy and preventing obesity.
- Ample cage space, play-time, balls, and wheels are all ways to stimulate your pet and to encourage it to exercise.
- A healthy hedgehog is well-muscled and not fat. A proper diet and frequent exercise help to build muscles and increase the longevity of your pet.
- Cages size, toys and accessories and play time activities are discussed on several of our other guides.