Help! My new hedgehog won't eat!
Help my hedgehog isn't eating, what do I do? Why is my new hedgehog not eating? How do I make my hedgehog eat? Help my new hedgehog has loose stools, or loose green stools. What should I feed my new hedgehog? I cannot get my hedgehog to eat!
Have you found this thread because you are asking yourself that question? Hopefully you'll find some answers below that will help guide you into understanding hedgehogs in regards to eating and digestion better.
First lets talk about basic hedgehog care. Double check the following items:
A veterinary visit should be done to rule out illness. There is no advice that can be given here that is better than taking a hedgehog to a veterinarian to ensure that what you are experiencing is not a symptom of illness. Hedgehogs can be amazing at hiding illness. Just because they are otherwise acting normal does not mean they are not sick.
Always feed a new hedgehog what they were previously being fed.
This is one of the more important questions to ask the prior owner... what are they currently eating? Even better, get a small amount of the old food they were eating. Get specifics. Brand, and variety. Also keep in mind that diet changes need to be done slowly, more on that below.
There are two major reasons this is important.
I don't typically recommend big diet changes in new hedgehogs as they are adjusting to being in a new home. Stress of going to a new home, and adjusting to your routine is bad enough and can cause their already sensitive digestive systems to get upset quickly. When to start a diet change really just depends on the hedgehog. I've had some that I was comfortable starting within a week, and others that the hedgehog took many weeks.
After the hedgehog has had time to settle in, then you start a diet change. Add no more than 1/4 new food the first week. I usually start out smaller and increase through the week. Second week I build up to 1/2 new. Third week 3/4. If at any point in time their stool goes soft or changes color slow down and reduce the new food to allow their digestive system to adjust. Often you can switch them by week 4 to 100% new, but I've had some that took much longer (8 weeks or longer).
Refusal to eat
If you are lucky your hedgehog will eat whatever you give, but you aren't likely reading this because all is going well. So what do you do with a hedgehog who refuses to eat?
Help my new hedgehog has loose stools, or loose green stools.
If you have 100% changed diet, or have been syringe feeding you may experience loose stools, or even very loose green stools with your hedgehog. A hedgehog's digestive system is easily upset. Stress alone can cause green to appear.
When dealing with a hedgehog who is only eating via syringe, and their stools are getting loose, I add pumpkin to their diet. I find that adding about 2-3 cc of pumpkin twice a day will quickly firm up their stools. I also add a probiotic to ensure that their digestive system is getting plenty of good bacteria in it. A “hefty sprinkle” of acidolphilus can be added to their syringable food.
But I'm feeding what my breeder fed and the hedgehog still won't eat.
This can happen. Some hedgehogs seem friendly and settled when they really aren't. I took in a rescue once who never raised a quill, crawled around on me, let me rub his skirt line, behind his ears, etc. But he wouldn't eat. He seemed extremely friendly, but in actuality he was scared. One needs to always remember that these are prey animals and when they are in a new location they are always scared and uncertain about what is happening. They always need time to decide you aren't a predator who is going to eat them.
So what do you do?
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