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Old 12-13-2012, 11:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Wild diet?

I'm wondering if there has been any studies about what wild african hedgies eat? I know we feed mealies or other insects as treat but why not feed them more as a staple? Is it because cat food is balanced/convenient? Has anyone tried a mostly insect based diet?
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wild diet?

I don't have time to search for articles right now, but I know there's been some research posted/discussed. They're classified as insectivores, but they're definitely more omnivores/opportunistic eaters. They eat insects, but they also eat plants, veggies, mushrooms, meat (either baby animals or carcasses), eggs, etc. That's one reason we do cat food as a staple diet - so far they seem to have about the same vitamin/mineral/nutrition requirements as cats, and they do well on it, plus cat food has better ingredients than all commercial hedgehog foods. The other main reason for cat food is convenience - most people don't have time/money or aren't comfortable with putting together a homemade diet. It's too risky, with how easy it'd be to miss a vital vitamin/mineral that they need, and cause long-term damage over time.

That said, I know some people prefer and recommend feeding a large amount of insects if you can. I know with Lily in her last year, I was giving her something like 8-12 mealworms a night (she was losing weight, so I figured it wouldn't hurt and might help) as well as 4-6 frozen-thawed crickets hidden in her cage. I had wanted to try some more insects (especially dubia roaches) with her, but never got a chance. I definitely plan to experiment more with diet options when I get more hedgehogs in the future.
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:20 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wild diet?

I did a bit of searching on google and at least got a idea of a natural diet. I think I'm going to try many different foods with Annabell, including veggies and some fruit but I will still feed kibble too.
I have reptiles so I have a variety of insects including superworms, discoid and red runner roaches. I also have frozen pinkies for the snakes, I suppose on of those once in a while would be a good treat.
After reading about the teeth problems and cancer a lot of older hedgies get, I started wondering if it could be from the commercial diets we feed. I know the food I have is pretty hard/big so I'll have to smash it for annie but I worry about it wearing down her teeth.
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wild diet?

I hate how large cat kibble is too, so all our hedgies get crushed up food. I just imagine myself eating my meals in the form of a bowl of giant ice cubes and have sympathy. The biggest reason people don't feed more insects is out of convenience, but beyond that it's just a balancing game of knowing that the cat food has everything they need, and wondering how "off balance" everything else you feed will make it. I feed my herd a lot of insects, which are high in phosphorus, so we also supplement with calcium to balance that out. As long as your bugs are gut loaded I consider them a pretty complete food source and something that's worth feeding a decent amount of. Some nights our hedgies just get their kibble, but others they'll probably eat 1/3rd roaches/worms/beetles and 2/3rds kibble. Not only is it great for them nutritionally but mine seem to get so much out of eating bugs, especially live. It's serious mental enrichment. Insects also provide a lot of fiber which our hedgies don't get as much of on just cat food. If you have those feeder insects, go for it! I highly recommend using insects not just as a treat, but a daily addition to their diet.



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Old 12-14-2012, 05:18 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wild diet?

You might find this topic interesting: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=19855
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Old 12-15-2012, 01:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wild diet?

Thanks for all the info, I'm excited that I can feed more insects and fresh food. I'm sure hedgie will appreciate it too
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