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Old 12-15-2019, 03:43 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help explaining behaviour changes?

Hi all!

My hog Chu is just over 1 year old, and there's been several changes in her behaviour in the last ~3 months or so that I'm starting to get concerned about.

1. Poopin' habits: somehow I randomly got a hog that took to a litter box almost instantly and rarely pooped anywhere except in the box or on her wheel. Even when taking her out of her cage to run around the apartment, never pooped!

She now poops almost without fail if unattended while outside her cage. As well, she has started pooping in other places in her cage than the litter box. Admittedly, I think it may just be any place that's "marked" as a poop zone, and the misplaced poops have been near the wheel so it might smell like a poop zone. If I go too long without changing the cage liners she starts pooping essentially all over the place.

2. Exercise: starting 3 months ago, she almost completely stopped running. At first I was explaining it as she was going through her 1 year quilling, but at this point she's still ignoring the wheel and has been gaining weight. In the past, I have had her start ignoring the wheel as a result of it not being cleaned enough or being cleaned with a perfumed soap. Now though the wheel is clean, has been cleaned with unscented soap... dunno what's the deal.

For the time being she can still ball up, so technically according to the folk wisdom she's not overweight. That said, she's gone from ~500g in the spring/summer months to 618g as of mid-December, the heaviest she's been.

Here's a pic of Chu~
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File Type: png Chu.PNG (499.1 KB, 11 views)
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Old 12-15-2019, 04:28 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If they cant ball up that makes them obese. They can be overweight and still ball up. You need to look at shape and excess fat on limbs to see if they are overweight.

From that picture your little one looks a bit overweight. I would try get back to 500g.

The pooping outside the litter box could be lazy to actually go into the litter box or as your said it smalls like that area so is just assuming thats where to go now.
To be honest I wouldn't be very worried on this, you could try to re litter train her, but honestly if this started at the same time as not using the wheel, then it could be partly do with not pooping on the wheel anymore.

If she is getting time out of the cage to run around bring the wheel and litter tray and see if she uses it there.
You could also start again getting her to use the wheel, put her on it and try get her used to it again.

If she is overweight this could affect using the wheel, overweight hogs tend to become less and less active the more overweight they get, which is a real pain, but the more weight they loose, the more active they get again.
Make sure she has time outside the enclosure, in a play pen or hedgehog proofed room to run around and play and be more active. Than they would on the wheel anyway, and give it a while to see if losing the weight helps.
You dont want her losing more than 20g a week, so would recomend using some kitchen scales and a container to weigh her weekly.
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Old 12-15-2019, 09:29 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I think you answered the first part of your question; she's probably become accustomed to using both her litter box + the immediate area around it. To be frank, I'm not sure what you can do to correct that behaviour. You could try using a large puppy pad to cover the area she's using as a bathroom, and then gradually reduce the size to get her back to using a smaller dedicated area - but with a hedgehog, there's really no guarantees.

As for the 2nd part of your question; she is without a doubt overweight. The 'if they can still curl into a ball, theyre fine' is not true. As already mentioned, it is at the point where they cannot curl into a tight ball that they are considered obese - but they can certainly be overweight while still being capable of turning into a tight ball. The easiest way of determining whether or not they are a healthy weight is via their shape. If you look down on her from above, she should be a nice teardrop shape - literally like a potato, but not be overly round. I can already tell from that side photo that your girl is very overly round.

I attached a photo of my hog, and this photo was taken at 380g (she varies between 360-380g). As you can see, she is a nice & healthy tear drop shape while not being overly round.

What's her diet like?
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Old 12-17-2019, 01:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
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She's on a diet of cat food with a guaranteed analysis as follows:

30% protein
14% fat
4.5% fiber
10% moisture

I've always just free fed, weighing the intake every 2 days or so and refilling to 30g. She varies between 7-9g per night.

The impression I've gotten from my initial research before getting Chu was that you don't tend to want to limit their food intake?

First resolution is that I'm going to just deal with the hidden poop presents around the house if it means she's running around and getting exercise.
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Old 12-20-2019, 05:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You can try switching, slowly, to a lower fat food and also trying hiding the food around the cage so that she has to look for it.
Retired breeder and active HWS rescue station
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behaviour, exercise, pooping

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