Big Fat Boy Won't Exercise
Hey yall !
Cecil is 2 now and fat as HECK. His dad was one of breeder's biggest hedgies (in the 800-900g range) and his mom wasn't the tiniest thing (I think somewhere bt 400-600g), so a bit of it is genetic.
Cecil weighs ~740g. Vet did a physical (not an Xray though, hesitant about anesthesia bc he's so fat), and adjusted the amounts in his diet (1 tbsp dry food, 1 tsp wet food/protein, and 1/2 tsp fruit/veggies).
He stopped running on his wheel maybe 2 months ago now (?), hence our vet visit. I've got a Carolina Storm, the same he's had all his life, in perfect working condition. No temperature changes/other major changes. He's never been one to care about light but I tried eliminating all light sources too. He has the average 12 hour light/dark cycle in his room. No litter changes, no food changes.
The only other behavioral changes are that he completely stopped using his litter box (he was born potty trained but now he will go anywhere and everywhere) a little while before he stopped running, and about a week before he stopped running I noticed him itching his side a lot (vet checked a skin scrape and no mites though).
My vet suggested a (chinchilla sized) hamster ball. I had reservations about those in the past but I tried it and it worked fine for several weeks. He'd run all around the living room in it. However the past several days I've put him in his ball and he won't move. He settles in and goes right to sleep.
I know it can be hard for tubby fellows to exercise because it's such a strain on their breathing and little bitty legs. But all he does now is sleep and get up at 10pm to immediately nosh on the food I set out. I can tell he's up a little in the night but still no running. If I set him out on the floor to walk around, he just immediately finds somewhere to go to sleep.
Anyone have any thoughts or any other exercise tricks ?
What is the fat % of the dry food and wet food? Are you using low fat options? Do you feed any insects, if so which ones? Wet food is generally a lot higher in fat, is there a reason why the vet would suggest it? For more protein (and fibre) you could feed low fat insects like crickets and dubia roaches.
I read before that scattering the food around the enclosure, so they have to find the food and work a bit to get it can help them become more active. With the wheel, can it support his weight? You might have to get a bigger one as the CSBW i think is 12" in diameter. He probably could do with a 13 or 14" one. I've been looking at the hedgehog precision one as that's 13" or so I think and looks more reinforced on the wheel rim. Also have you seen him try to run on it? Perhaps it's bowing under him and scraping the floor when he tries to run? My boy gained a lot in weight earlier is year (almost doubled in size but he was tiny before so wasn't necessarily a bad thing but he could do with dropping a little). Anyways he stopped wheeling as much as he used to and when I changed the tilt on his wheel aimed more forward I think it may be have bowed a little when he tried to run, hence he stopped using it as much. Recently we tilted it back so angled a little backwards and he's back to running marathons on it.
The itching and scratching may be due to excessive skin, if he has any rolls under his arms etc. does he skin look red?
If you turn all the lights off in the room, will he still not wake up and start exploring? Again you could try scattering food around your floor, turn the lights off and see if he'll go walking around to eat, not leaving him unattended of course.
Hoping he loses some weight soon! :)
I had an overweight hedgehog and what I did was limit his food intake. I fed him once a day at night and let him loose around the house for a couple hours. That slimmed him down a LOT as he enjoyed exploring the house. If he's sleeping most of the day, it's perfectly fine to feed him less and just only once a day.
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