Right amount of food?
I posted a while ago about my hedgehogs diet as she could do with loosing a little weight and needed advice on how much she should be having.
After taking all the advice and guidance on board she eats the following:
Sun - 10g kibble, 5g mince, 10 insects, no worms
Mon - 10g kibble, 11 insects, 4 meal worms
Tue - 10g kibble, 5g mince, 5g veg, 10 insects
Wed - 10g Kibble, 11 insects, 4 wax worms
Thur - 10g kibble, 5 mince, 10 insects
Fri - 10g kibble, 13 insects, 2 morio worms
Sat - 10g kibble, 5g fruit, 15 insects
She eats it all and her weight is stable but not coming down. However I think she may still be hungry. She eats all her kibble by about 10pm so I have had to start putting it in in two half’s so she has some for over night and she has also started to get up during the day for a nibble as well.
Does this mean she isn’t getting enough? So I need to tweet the menu to make it more filling?
All advice would be appreciated, thanks
What insects are using?
What mix of biscuit do you use and what's the fat percentage like?
I cant remember but was she eating everything you gave her before you changed it too?
And how active is she?
What kibble brands are you feeding; ingredients of the kibble would be useful. As would a photo of the hedgehog, so we can see it's body condition and how much (if much) it is overweight.
An overweight hog is a hedgehog who is eating too many calories for their energy level. So if she is genuinely overweight, she does not need more food - and arguably needs less of it. If she is still eating, even when she is evidently meeting her caloric need, she is a) boredom eating, b) eating just because it is there, or c) her food is too high in carbs, and not enough animal protein.
We really need an ingredients list for every kibble included in her diet, in addition to knowing her activity level - is she a runner? on the lazier side? maybe somewhere in the middle?
Wet food is also a really great way to get animals to lose weight; it's high in moisture, so they feel fuller faster, and lower in calorie than kibble (and hedgehogs have slow metabolisms) - i would recommend switching to a wet diet, if all else fails to help her lose weight.
Thank you for your replies. Busy day at work so haven’t been able to get back to you both with the answers to you questions.
She is on a 50/50 mix of James well beloved house cat (duck) and James well beloved light (turkey). I believe that makes total fat 12.5, protein 32.5.
I struggle to get her to try other foods, the only one I found she will eat is applaus kitten but that’s really high in fat. I haven’t had success with wet cat food.
The insect alternate between a combination of Black crickets and roaches one day and silent crickets and locusts the next.
The vet suggested on last visit she should loose weight but I think she will always be chunky. She is hoovering around 575g at present.
She runs anywhere from 0.01 mile to 2.5 miles a night, weekly total is between 4-7 miles. She is definitely on the lazier side.
She has a dig box in viv, doesn’t play with her toys (I keep trying) and she has a sand bath twice a week which she loves.
I have hopefully attached pictures of food ingredients and Holly herself, if it doesn’t work I’ll try again when I finish.
I hope that answers all questions, my phone won’t show previous replies when writing so can’t see if I missed one!
Her food is too high in carbs. Theres little available (scientifically speaking) information on hedgehog diets, but from the little we do have we know that theyre opportunistic omnivores who have a high percentage of animal protein in their diet; with the majority of plant based material being consumed through the animals they eat. With that information, we can say that they need a diet high in animal protein, and lower in carbs - the James well beloved mix you're feeding only lists a minimum 27.5% animal protein, when this should be a minimum of 60% (though some prefer 70-80%) and the 2nd and 3rd ingredients are rice, which likely make up the bulk of that food combined. What happens when you feed an animal who does not naturally consume a high carb diet a ton of carbs, is that all that excess carbohydrates are stored as fat.
I would switch kibbles. I know you mentioned she can be picky, but we need to try again if you want better control over her weight. The james wellbeloved can be included as part of her new kibble mix (although not the greatest food, its useful with dropping protein levels of other kibbles) but the bulk of her diet needs to be made up of a high quality, 60% minimum animal protein kibble if she hates wet food. Brands I would recommend looking into are Applaws, Canagan, Orijen, Acana, AATU, Carnilove, and Vets Kitchen to name a few.
I know fat percentages often install fear into hedgehog owners. But carbohydrate/quality ingredient content should be of equal - if not higher - importance. Foods that make up the bulk of her diet should be free of rice and maize, and ideally <20% potato. A food higher in fat also means she needs less kibble (as fat is a great provider of energy and calories); for a hedgehog on the lazier side, she should be eating closer to 1 teaspoon (especially when she's getting extras) of a kibble that is 15-20% fat.
Honestly I would keep the james well beloved light turkey, and mix it with something like carnilove their duck and turkey is pretty good, and theres a vets kitchen chicken (that emc showed me) if you do a mix of these you can still keep the fat low but its also got less carbs.
Personally for a lazy hedgehog like yours I wouldnt use a fat content higher than 14% especially if they eat everything given.
I would also decrease some of the extras given, rather than giving 5g meat AND 5g veg I would do 4g meat and 2g veg. Then the total food is only 16g that night with the 11 insects. It isnt as much food this way.
Or if you cut the biscuit down to 6-7g of biscuit then do 5g meat and 3g veg plus the 11 insects. This would work better.
As Emc said though for such a lazy hedgehog (whos even lazier than my Holly) should only eat around 6g of biscuit (1 teaspoon)
Thank you, that’s really useful and helpful info. I have to say I feel very out of my depth whenever I delve in to the analytical side of food.
I already have a mix made up and would prefer not to waste to so I’m thinking a plan of action could be:
Start adding in a new kibble now until it’s maybe 50% of the mix then start reducing the JWB housecat until it out of the mix, which would potentially give me a 50/50 mix of the JWB light and new kibble then from here I can increase the new kibble and reduce the JWB further if needed? Possibly even introduce a 3rd kibble.
I’m thinking from here I can then reduce how much kibble is being given (I don’t want to suddenly reduce it whilst changing the taste and cause a tantrum) and in between all that reduce the extras as suggested by Ria.
Is this a good plan?
I will start with Applaws as the new kibble, as she has taken to it in the past. She had the applaws kitten but would the adult or senior be a better option? Carnilove is one we have tried and she ate around it, which leaves me with the rest of Suggested foods available if she won’t take to the applaws.
If I try introducing wet food how much should I give and how often?
I am willing to try everything even if Holly isn’t so willing!
Thank you again for your help.
The applaws senior chicken is still 80% chicken and 20% other stuff like the kitten one, the only real difference I can see is the protein of the senior is 37% and fat is 17% where the kitten one 38% protein and 20% fat. Its not a huge difference but it the senior one might be better fat wise. But its up to you.
Your plan is great, change the food you want to first keeping the total mix 50/50
Then start reducing the amount of total food you give balancing the two foods but making the mix more one than the other (I can help you work out fat and protein if you want I have a spreadsheet that will work it out for me)
After about a week of changing the amount of biscuit you give reduce the amount of extras
When I give wet food I only give Holly about 10-15g depending on the wet food I use, the fat and protein of the wet food. I only give it once every other week. But I just take a bit out of my dogs wet food.
You could get a smell wet cat food and do 1/4 or 1/2 over 2 consecutive days. You could do this weekly or every other week if you wanted. Depends what works best for you.
Your current mix doesn't have to go to waste; we can fix her diet to make it more appropriate while using up whatever food you still have left.
Even if we start simply by just adding in one new kibble - I'm using Applaws senior chicken for this, because it has the lowest fat content out of the applaws mixes while also having high animal protein, but if you have a different preference we can see if its workable;
Applaws senior chicken is 37% protein, 20% fat and has a 80% animal protein content.
Her current mx of James wellbeloved is 32.5% protein, 12.5% fat.
You have a couple of options here, depending on what fat % you're comfortable with. I'm going to run through a couple options, just to show you some possibilities you have here with just this one simple change of adding in just one new kibble:
A) 80% applaws + 20% current mix = 36.1% protein, 16.1% fat
B) 70% applaws + 30% current mix = 35.6% protein, 15.6% fat
C) 60% applaws + 40% current mix = 35.2% protein, 15.2% fat.
Now, like I mentioned earlier fat content is not all. We also need to look at animal protein, and we would want her food to be at least 60%. So, if the James wellbeloved has a minimum of ~30% animal protein, and the Applaws has 80%:
A) 80% x 80% + 30% x 20% = (64%) + (6%) = 70% animal protein for option A
B) 80% x 70% + 30% x 30% = (56%) + (9%) = 65% animal protein for option B
C) 80% x 60% + 30% x 40% = (48%) + (12%) = 60% animal protein for option C
All of these options would be suitable (again though, if you want to use a different kibble we can try it - i just used applaws as a quick & appropriate example), and with this simple change in addition to reducing her kibble intake to 5-6g, and perhaps also reducing her add ins a little like Ria mentioned, you should get far more control over Hollys weight.
ETA; As far as wet food goes, my hedgehog (who sits around 360-370g, and runs like the wind) eats anywhere from 20-30g - but she doesn't eat her kibble with this. You can feed it as often as you like once its a complete food you're offering - also beware that some picky hedgehogs get a liking for it, and won't eat anything else - which is only really a problem if you don't personally want to feed them a solely wet diet (although it is 100% appropriate to do so).
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