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Old 08-25-2008, 07:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
Hooked on Hogs
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Kingston, Ontario
Posts: 8,950
Default Soft food recommendations

I'm posting this but it was written by HedgePigLove (Laura D) on what to feed when your hedgehog needs a soft diet.


Sometimes our little hedgehogs need to be put on soft foods because of tooth loss, gum problems, or other health issues. As always, before changing or adding to your hedgie’s diet, please check with your veterinarian; this is especially important if your hedgehog is currently on medication or is having trouble eating their regular food on their own.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you’re changing your hedgehog’s diet. First, you can be pretty much assured that the hedgie’s poop is going to change in consistency, color, and possibly scent; this is normal as their digestive system adjusts to the new foods, but talk with your vet about what to watch for (such as mucous in the stool). Second, many hedgehogs take a while to figure-out that the new thing in their food dish is actually food; they may choose to anoint with the new substance, walk through it, poop in it, or do other charming things. Third, hedgehogs seem to do best with foods offered at room temperature or a bit warmer; I’ve no idea why this is, but it’s true at least for the quilled kids here.

Many of the following food ideas can be administered via syringe, should your hedgehog be so ill that they need to be hand-fed. However, if your hedgehog is needing to be syringe-fed, PLEASE clear any of these foods (or any others that you want to try) with your veterinarian before adding them to your hedgehog’s diet.

For feeding your little one, I have the following suggestions:

1. Ground-up kibble - I use the same mixture as they've been getting whole (high-protein, low-fat), grind it in a coffee grinder (reserved especially for hedgie food), and store it in a zip-lock bag in the refrigerator. Then I scoop out some and soften it in warm water; it's amazing how much water it can absorb! I usually add what I think will be too much water, and then end-up adding more after it's been sitting for a few minutes. Some times I also add a few drops of Omega-3 oils.

2. Canned and packet versions of their regular kibble – You may want to add some of their regular, ground kibble to the wet version for continuity of flavor.

Also, you may want to look at some of the various canned and pouched cat (and kitten) foods now available. There’s lots of options in terms of flavor and consistency (the “pate” versions have been a hit with the hedgies here) and those may be of some appeal to your hedgehog

3. Baby food - I've had good luck with the Gerber "Stage 2" foods, especially the chicken and gravy (ingredients: chicken, water, cornstarch), the sweet potato (ingredients: sweet potatoes, water, cornstarch), and the mixed veggies. Also, many hedgehogs like the Gerber Graduates Chicken Sticks. When the jar is first opened, the sticks are soft (can be difficult to get out of the jar without crumbling) and can be smushed into small bits with your fingers. After the jar has been opened for a day or two, sometimes the outside of the chicken sticks becomes chewy; when this happens, I just peel-off the outside of the stick and crumble the interior. (The fluid that is in the jar with the chicken sticks can become somewhat gelatinous - I sometimes add a bit of this liquid to the moist food.) I also recommend the “Earth’s Best Baby Food” brand, too, and there are other brands available throughout the country; just be sure to look for a food that is just the main ingredient, water, and cornstarch. I warm the baby foods a bit before serving.

4. Mealworms, waxworms, silkworms, crickets, etc. - if your hedgehog is having trouble chewing, they may not be able to get through the exoskeleton of live mealworms and crickets and the freeze-dried or roasted versions may be too crunchy for them. But there are several options you can try:

4A. You can take live mealworms, waxworms, silkworms, and crickets and freeze them. Once dead, you can then let the insects thaw and mash or grind them up and add it to your hedgie's wet food.

4B. With live mealworms, you can keep an eye on them as they grow and feed your hedgehog the worms that have just shed their skin (they'll be white and soft).

4C. If you have freeze-dried or roasted worms (or crickets), you can add these to the kibble when you grind it. Or you can grind them separately and sprinkle the resulting powder on the moistened food (baby food, moistened kibble, canned cat food, etc.).

4D. You can purchase canned insects (which tend to be a bit softer) in the reptile section of many pet stores and then grind or mash them. Remember that you’ll need to keep the insects in the fridge or freezer once you’ve opened the can, though, else they’ll turn rancid.

5. Yogurt - you can purchase small amounts of organic yogurt (you may need to experiment with flavors - my hedgehogs like the vanilla and banana flavors) and offer this as an addition to (or mixed in with) the moistened regular food. Stonyfield Yogurt has several options in their "YoBaby" line, including smoothies, whole milk yogurt, and drinkable yogurt. These (and other brands) can be found in the yogurt section of many large supermarkets and in natural food and nutrition stores. Please note, though, that some veterinarians advise against giving hedgehogs dairy products while the hedgehog is on antibiotics, so please ask your vet before adding yogurt to your hedgie’s diet. Also, yogurt from cow’s milk may cause green feces and other signs of stomach upset, so you need to be very careful. Right now I’m working with some local small farmers to purchase some yogurt made from goats’ milk, hoping that it will be easy on my sick hedgies’ digestive system.

Another option is cultured soy products, such as Stonyfield Farms’ O-Soy cultured soy yogurt, which contains live active cultures that assist in the digestive process. You may need to contact a local health food store to find these items. It’s not essential to get a “flavored” yogurt. I often purchase “plain” and stir in a bit of baby food or other items to make it palatable for the hedgehogs.

6. Eggs – One thing that’s been a big hit around here are scrambled eggs. I just whip an egg, cover the dish with plastic wrap, and microwave it until done, then cool and crumble before serving. Some people use soy milk added before cooking, resulting in a "soft scramble" and other folks make regular scrambled eggs in a frying-pan with butter. Some of my hedgehogs also like well-mashed hard-boiled eggs.

7. Protein Drinks – There are several protein drinks currently available that people’ve offered to their hedgehogs with good results; the most common are the Boost and Ensure brands, both of which come in different flavors and different versions. I prefer to offer the Vanilla flavor, but I know that some hedgies prefer the Strawberry. Boost comes in a "Boost Plus" version, which I turn to when there's lots of weight loss in the little one. I usually water it down a bit (though some hedgehogs like it straight). Please do not give your hedgehog Chocolate-flavored anything, as we don’t know if chocolate is toxic to hedgies.

8. Children’s Electrolyte Drinks – While the most common brand is Pedialyte, many stores also offer a store brand. You can now get this in "freezer pop" servings, which you can just store at room temperature. The smaller serving size means less goes to waste. If you desire, feel free to dilute this with water. Also, a powdered version is now available which allows you to mix the amount that you want, to the dilution-level that you want, with not as much waste.

9. Hill's A/D (and other versions), Critical Care for Carnivores, and Feline Rebound - these are items that you will need to ask your veterinarian about, though the Feline Rebound can be ordered on-line from a few websites.

10. Emma’s Mix – I am currently syringe-feeding a little hedgehog who cannot eat on her own because of a lack of teeth and neurological problems. I feed Emma several a day and she receives between 9 and 15 cc’s (she starts “blowing bubbles” with her food when she’s full) at a time. Her weight is stable at about 320 grams, which seems to be a good weight for her body size. The mix consists of the following:

2 jars (2.5 ounces) Gerber 2nd Foods Chicken
½ jar (about 1.25 ounces) Earth’s Best Organic First Sweet Potatoes
½ jar (about 1.25 ounces) Earth’s Best Organic First Apples
½ container (about 1 tablespoon) YoBaby Organic Whole Milk Yogurt, Banana or Vanilla OR ½ container Stonyfield Farms’ O’Soy cultured soy yogurt (2-3 ounces)
1 tablespoon Earth’s Best Organic Whole Grain Oatmeal or Rice Cereal

I mix these five items in a microwave-safe container and store in the refrigerator; I warm the mix for about 30 seconds (until it’s about room-temperature) before feeding it to Emma. One batch lasts about 3-days. I feed the leftover foods (which shouldn’t be stored for more than a day or two in the refrigerator, once opened) to my pet rats, who are very appreciative of the treat. Feel free to experiment with the different baby foods until you find a mixture appealing to your hedgehog.
Chessie likes this.
* * * Nancy * * *

Retired from breeding

Rescue contact for both the Hedgehog Welfare Society and the IHA
Rescued over 70 (and counting) hedgehogs needing a new home
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