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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone! So here's the thing. I'm getting my hedgie next week, and as of last week, I wasn't planning on switching my hedgie's food, just using the one he's been eating at the breeder's house aka the one his own parents eat.

She feeds them Purina Pro Plan Cat Food Chicken Flavor (for adults). Just yesterday she texted me pics of the baby and asked me to please keep feeding him this food for at least 6 months since he and his siblings are on the small side because it was a litter of 7 hoglets, and she wants them to gain weight. I was super okay with it because, hey, I wasn't planning on switching foods at all.

Then I started reading around the forum...

The good thing about that food is that the first ingredient is straight up Chicken, but then there's corn gluten and animal fat, things I have read around the forum that aren't good for hedgies. It is also very high in protein and fat (but I read the high fat is good for then they're babies, at least).

So I'm worried now. I did some research and decided on two options to switch him to eventually: Natural Balance Indoor Ultra Premium Cat Food or Blue Buffalo Weight Control Chicken and Brown Rice Adult Cat Food. They seem like very good choices, I still don't know which one to choose (I know a lot of people here mix like 4 different brands but for now I can't afford that. I want to choose one and be at peace of mind...).

What I don't know is when to switch foods. I want to honor the breeder's request and keep feeding him the Pro Plan for 6 months, but now I feel like 6 months is a long time. Is it a long time? Will he be okay with that food for a few months? How many months should I wait to switch? I definitely want him to gain good weight before I start to gradually mix in the new food and stuff (although I have no idea how I'll know if it's a good weight. Gotta look into that). Any opinions/suggestions?
 

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I don't think it's necessary to wait that long to switch unless you want to. I would wait at least a couple of weeks before switching, but after that you could do it whenever you're ready.

I don't remember the specs on those foods off hand, but those are pretty well trusted brands as long as the fit the standard specs we look for in food for our hedgies, you should be fine. However, hedgehogs can be very picky, so he may choose the food for you. Hopefully he'll just eat the first one you try without any fuss.

When you're actually doing the switch you'll want to do it over about four weeks. The first week you'll do 3/4 old food 1/4 new. The second week 2/4 old 2/4 new and so on. Sometime hedgies will straight up switch themselves and completely stop eating the old food. If that happens you're ok to just go with the new food, but you may see some green poo for a couple of days.

As far as his weight go, it really just depends on the hedgehog. Keep an eye on his body shape. Looking down on him his sides should look like || or maybe a teardrop shape. If he looks like )( or like his sides are sunken in then he's too thin and his diet should be adjusted. If he looks like ( ) and has a double chin and/or fatty pockets around his legs and/or has trouble rolling into a ball, he's too big. Hedgehogs come in different sizes so weight alone isn't enough to go on, hence we look at their shape.

If you want to stick with what the breeder is using for a while, it's probably not going to hurt him. It's not a great food, but it's not terrible either. Do your research on nutrition (there's some great threads on the forum on the topic) and look at what's available to you and make the decision that works best for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thank you for your reply and advice! Maybe waiting until I'm almost done with the first bag (Pro Plan) would be enough, then? I assume it'll last maybe around a month or more. I thought of maybe switching him after 3 months. I guess I'll know once the time comes. She wants him to gain weight, but as you said, even if I monitor it I don't know when it'll be safe to switch foods. I'm sure he likes his current food, and I'm hoping he'll like the new one. Thanks for the pointers on the weight, I will definitely be checking out his shape.

I did check the threads on nutrition! :) Those were the ones that convinced me to switch at some point. I followed the guidelines there to choose those brands. I have the ingredients and analysis, here:

Natural Balance Indoor Ultra Premium Cat Food

Ingredients:
Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Salmon Meal, Oat Fiber, Pea Fiber, Natural flavor, Alfalfa Meal, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Dried Egg Product, Dried Potatoes, Potato Protein, Salmon Oil, Flaxseed Meal, Brewers Dried Yeast, Vegetable Pomace (carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress and spinach), Sodium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Fructooligosaccharides, Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, dl-methionine, Lecithin, Vitamins (vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, riboflavin, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, menadione sodium metabisulfite [source of vitamin K activity], folic acid), Choline Chloride, Minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, sodium selenite, cobalt carbonate, ethylenediamine dihydriodide), Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (preservatives), Kelp Meal, Cranberries, Parsley Flakes, Lysine, Dried Spinach, Rosemary Extract

Guaranteed Analysis:
Crude protein: 30%, crude fat: 14%, crude fiber: 8%, moisture: 10%, taurine: 0.12%, Omega-3 fatty acids: 0.4%, Omega-6 fatty acids: 2.5%
Blue Buffalo Weight Control Chicken and Brown Rice Adult Cat Food

Ingredients:
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Peas, Powdered Cellulose, Oatmeal, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Tomato Pomace (source of Lycopene), Natural Flavor, Potatoes, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Potato Starch, Dried Chicory Root, Salt, DL-Methionine, Caramel, Taurine, Alfalfa Meal, Cranberries, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Mixed Tocopherols (a natural preservative), L-Carnitine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3), Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Oil of Rosemary, L-Lysine, Parsley, Kelp, Blueberries, Apples, Spinach, Blackberries, Pomegranate, Pumpkin, Barley Grass, Turmeric, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Beta Carotene, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Sodium Selenite

Guaranteed Analysis:
Crude Protein 30.0% min, Crude Fat 9.0% min, Crude Fiber 9.0% max, Moisture 10.0% max, Magnesium 0.08% min, Taurine 0.15% min, L-Carnitine* 150 mg/kg min, Omega 3 Fatty Acids* 0.3% min, Omega 6 Fatty Acids* 1.5% min
*Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles.
Both brands are on the petco website, so I assume they should be available at my local petco store. I'll check that out when I go buy the first bag of food.
 

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My opinion? Switching needs to happen when it needs to happen and not a second sooner. In all seriousness, there are multiple factors in play that will determine when is the right time. For instance, babies need more calories for a while to grow and fill out. How long that takes can vary from individual to individual. Some hedgehogs are also more active than others can need a higher calorie food throughout their life, where some are "easy keepers" and need that low fat stuff almost from the beginning.

Honestly, if it was me, I'd get the breeder's food and only feed it initially. Monitor the hedgehog to ensure they are adjusting to their new home. This means they are eating, drinking, running around and that their stools are a nice color and consistency. How long it takes for them to adjust and settle down can vary from hedgehog to hedgehog. Some are fine almost from the beginning, some require more time. Leaving mom and their siblings can be unsettling.

Then I would consider adding another food in just so that I had a mix and my hedgehog was used to eating more than one type. Then I would weigh my hedgehog and watch its activity levels and condition to determine the percentage of high vs low fat food his mix should be and then vary it as needed.
 

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Agree with Kalandra, making sure your hedgie is eating well from the very start helps them immensely. I think one of the most important factors is make sure your hedgie is a good eater. It's a big adjustment being taken from the only home they've known and being dropped into a new place with new sounds, smells and all is stressful enough.

Then too, having a mix prevents hunger strikes when a manufacturer "improves" the food by changing the ingredients or shape or discontinues it altogether. There is also the problem with the food getting too old or expiring before it's gone. There have been certain foods (like Chicken soup for cats lite) that I have never been able to use up before hitting the expiration date.

It's a fine balance having the best food and then trying to keep it fresh.
Buy the smallest amounts you can.
The best food will be useless if your hedgie won't eat it.
Just as stated before, make sure they are eating well before changing anything.
You could also offer a new food as a "treat" too, hide a few kibble around the cage and see if they eat it. Makes a fun game/activity for them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you for your replies, everyone! I really appreciate them.

I agree I should definitely wait until I'm sure he's settled down and completely healthy before doing any changes, I wasn't planning on doing it any sooner than that. :)

So about the mix, wouldn't mixing two bags make it harder for me to finish a bag before it goes stale or expires? Since I'm taking a bit of each one. It's something I've been wondering.

I would only do the mix until I was sure he likes the new food and then switch completely to that one, right? Or do you think it's okay to keep Pro Plan as part of the mix permanently? I'm not sure on that from what you guys said.
 

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A mix of different foods is recommended for a couple of reasons.
One food may not completely meet the unique nutritional needs of hedgehogs and having at least 2 foods kind of "covers the bases" of meeting their nutritional needs.
Having more than one food is good because if a food is recalled or changed or unavailable, you won't be left without a food to feed.
Mixing foods also allows you to phase in or out a food or flavor. You can also balance a higher fat food with a lower fat food for taste and variety.
Once in awhile a hedgie for what we think is no reason will just stop eating a certain food, so at least something in the mix will appeal to them. (Most often it's when a food is getting older--they are very picky!)
As far as food going stale, make sure you put it in a "ziplock" or plastic sealed container or you can freeze a portion for later. Just be careful when you thaw it that it doesn't get mushy. Buy the smallest bag you can--it's more economical to use up a smaller bag than to buy a 10 lb bag and throw most of it away.

FWIW, I used to have up to 5 different foods in my mix, in different proportions.
 

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I just wanted t add when I got my first hedgehog, he was on a mix of hedgehog food and ferret food and I immediately wanted to switch him. But it is best to wait a little while until there settled in and as kalandra said, ready for the change. I did the gradual change about a month after I brought my little guy home and I was sure he was running on his wheel and eating and drinking well. Even being as careful as I could, he still got a little green poop when he only wanted the new food almost right away. Let you hedgie take the lead on his new food. He'll let you know what to do.
 
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