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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I decided it might be a good idea to talk about commercially prepared Hedgehog foods. Why some are ok choices for African Hedgehogs and some are not.
If you walk into a pet store and ask for "bird food" you will probably be shown a lot of packages that say "Bird Food" on them. The problem then arises if your bird is a Minah, a Toucan, a falcon, etc.etc. Even a Robin Redbreast cannot live off of seeds. So just because it says "Hedgehog Food" on the package does not neccesarily mean it is appropriate for African Hedgehogs.
Here is a list of most of the commercially prepared "Hedgehog Foods":
1. Spike's Delight Hedgehog foods (all formulas)
2. Sunseed Hedgehog food
3. Brisky's Hedgehog foods
4. 8in1 Ultra Hedgehog food
5. L'Avian Hedgehog food
6. Hedgehog Complete by Exotic Nutrition

7. Pretty Pets hedgehog food
8. Zoofare insectavore
9. Mazuri insectavore
10. Brown's Zoo Vital
11. Vitakraft

Now the first six on the list are ok to feed an African Hedgehog. Most experts agree
to mix several types of high quality, high protein, low fat cat foods / Hedgehog foods. It is also recommended to feed a variety of treats such as live insects, lean cooked meat, fresh fruit, and vegetables. So let's discuss why the last five products on the list should be avoided in African Hedgehog diets. These products may be great for other types of hedgehog but for African Hedgehogs they are not a good choice. Pretty Pet's hedgehog food contains very little nutritional content. It may be ok as a treat but should be considered "junk food". Zoofare and Mazuri contain artificial preservatives and/or softening agents which have been linked to all kinds of health problems. Brown's Zoo Vital and Vitakraft actually may be very good for European Hedgehogs but contain ingredients which are extreme health
risks to African Hedgehogs. Things like seeds and raisins are choking hazards and have resulted in African Hedgehog deaths. The best way to insure you are choosing a healthy African Hedgehog diet is to learn the nutritional requirements of the African Hedgehog. And then READ THE LABEL of the food you are considering feeding your hedgie. Knowledge is the key when choosing a food to add to your
African Hedgehog's diet.
 

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Which one from the top list is the best? I'm looking to buy some commercial hedgehog food because i don't have the money to buy a bunch of different cat foods and mix them together
 

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I would say Spike's Delight would probably be one of the most nutritional of the commercial hedgehog foods available. Sunseed is okay in a mix or as a treat, but I would not feed it exclusively.
 

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So, I took our hedgehog into the vet today and brought along the food we have been feeding her which is browns zoo vital. He said the food should be fine for her. I told him about the cases of hedgehogs choking on the raisins and such and his response was "These guys sometimes eat live mice in the wild carcass. Really they can choke on anything it's just a matter of circumstances." The only thing he mentioned is supplementing her diet with some wet food and some fresh fruits/veggies and the odd cooked meat.

I'm not trying to disprove that it's not a bad food for hedgehogs. I'm just digging for more info. I could just have a bad vet. If someone can shed some light on this that would be awesome.
 

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Bowdon said:
I'm not trying to disprove that it's not a bad food for hedgehogs. I'm just digging for more info.
Brown's Zoo-Vital Hedgehog Food
Ingredients: Corn, wheat, wheat flour, soybean meal, soy flour, corn gluten meal, poultry meal, soybean oil, alfalfa leaf meal, steamed flake corn, and more.
Guaranteed Analysis:
  • • Crude Protein (min.) 15.0%
    • Crude Fat (min.) 4.0%
    • Crude Fiber (max.) 6.0%
    • Moisture (max.) 12.0%
If the above mentioned ingredients and guaranteed analysis are accurate for the product you're talking about here, this is NOT good for a hedgehog, specially as a staple food. As a starter, it's because: (1) the first 2 or more ingredients are "fillers" and not human-grade meat (a label lists the ingredients in descending order by volume, so this means the biggest ingredient in this product is corn -- which hedgehogs cannot digest readily due to a lack of the proper enzyme); and (2) this product does not offer enough protein for hedgehogs -- the recommended protein level for hedgehogs is about 28 to 32%.

Your vet may not be a bad one, but most vets have to deal with many species of animals and they often don't have most up-to-date info on a specific species unless they have had personal experience with the species. Also, it might be of interest to you to know that vets don't spend much time in their academic curricula learning dietary requirements of pets, even for dogs and cats (there simply isn't enough time for them to learn about it in depth at school).

To know which food is suitable, educate yourself on the commonly accepted dietary requirements for your hedgie and how to read pet food labels so that you can decide on your own what's good for your loved one. The following is a list of reference material on the subjects. ;)


ETA: I was just reading another thread under the Health Section on this board and learned that Brown's Zoo-Vital Hedgehog Food contains raisins. Grapes and raisins are toxic to small animals (see The Wrath of Grapes on the ASPCA site). So if this product contains raisins, it should not be fed to your hedgie. Period.
 

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Thanks for a more scientific approach too it. The vet was just reading directly from a book that said commercial grade hedgehog food should be feed to them yadda yadda yadda. It looked like a fairly old book too.

The analysis you gave it also could explain why she's eating so much. I guess by all the filler in it thats not a good thing as she could pack on some pounds (She's already over weight) It's just a matter of looking through a list of the cat foods and choosing an appropriate food for her but, there is so many to choose from! It shouldn't be too hard to ween her off this food she's only been on it for about 2 and half weeks before that she was on no name cat food with the previous owner. I thought I was doing the right thing by getting her hedgehog food by I was lead astray a few times it seems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The three best in my opinion for your hedgie are: Wellness Healthy weight, Chix soup lite and Blue Spa Select weight management. They are lower in fat than most, are extremely healthy, and contain the highest quality ingredients.
 

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This is about a commercial cat food: I was wondering if feeding them Indoor cat food would be okay? Since its for indoor cats doesn't that mean that its low in fat for cats who dont get as much excersize??

I'm wondering because I feed my cat Purina Cat Chow:Indoor formula and it does say that its low in fat and high in protien with natural grains and greens, but you can never be too sure.

It would be ideal if it would be okay to mix with my hedgies cat food because I only have her on one kind at the moment, and I buy the other food anyways for my cat to eat. Thanks!
 

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My personal point of view on commercial hedgehog food is that they have no place in any animal's diet.

I feed only organic, holistic, "Human Grade Ingredient" kibbles.

Commercially prepared foods have one thing in common; they do not use high quality meats/veggies/fruits/grains. What they use is meats, poultry and grains that are unfit for human consumption. Old meat, meat from diseased animals, renderings from road kill, stale, moldy bakery products, etc.

http://www.bornfreeusa.org/facts.php?more=1&p=359

I have spent countless hours researching pet food. I am NOT an animal-rights activist. I am concerned with the health and well-being of the animals under my care. Just as I put nothing in my childrens mouths that I didn't think was safe, I'll feed nothing to my animals unless I think it's safe.

You know all those bodies left over after the fur has been removed from it for coats? Ever wonder what they do with them? They get sold to the "Protein Processors" and they end up in pet food.

No commercial hedgehog food is organic or made with human grade ingredients. As such, they are using meats from dead, diseased, dying and deformed animals. Chemicals are added before ingredients are bought so they don't have to be listed on the label. Chemicals and pesticides used in the raising of the meat and grains are concentrated in the pet foods.

These are not things I will feed to my animals. Before you feed it, ask yourself is it worth it?
 

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HedgeMom said:
I feed only organic, holistic, "Human Grade Ingredient" kibbles.

http://www.bornfreeusa.org/facts.php?more=1&p=359
Interesting read. May we take further advantage of your research... specifically, could you fill us in on what brands of hedgie-appropriate kibble are out there that fall into the "organic, holistic, 'Human Grade Ingredient'" category?
 

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Sara&Marshal said:
I'm wondering because I feed my cat Purina Cat Chow:Indoor formula and it does say that its low in fat and high in protien with natural grains and greens, but you can never be too sure.

It would be ideal if it would be okay to mix with my hedgies cat food because I only have her on one kind at the moment, and I buy the other food anyways for my cat to eat. Thanks!
It's not totally about the protein and fat, it's about the ingredients too. You should always analyze the different ingredients to be sure that you're feeding your hedgie something nutritious.

Purina Cat Chow Indoor Formula
Ingredients:
Corn meal, poultry by-product meal, corn gluten meal, soy flour, beef tallow preserved with mixed tocopherols (source of vitamin E), cellulose, salmon meal, soybean hulls, malted barley flour, brewers dried yeast, natural flavors, phosphoric acid, calcium carbonate, tetra sodium pyrophosphate, potassium chloride, choline chloride, salt, taurine, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, l-alanine, vitamin supplements (E, A, B12, D3), niacin, added color (red 40, yellow 5, blue 2), manganese sulfate, parsley flakes, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, citric acid, folic acid, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), sodium selenite.

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein--min. 30.0%
Crude Fat------min. 9.5%
Crude Fiber----max. 9.0%
Moisture-------max. 12.0%

The protein and the fat are great, but the first ingredient is corn which hedgehogs don't get a lot of nutritional value out of and the second ingredient is by-products which aren't meat (they're basically the left overs from a chicken, like intestines, bones, and feathers, etc). Then there's a bunch of coloring in it, and it's still uncertain what effects dyes have on hedgehogs. Overall, I wouldn't recommend it as a food for a hedgie.

If you want to find another food to mix in with your hedgie's now, I would recommend taking a look at the foods from this list: http://www.hedgehogcentral.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=15. All meet hedgie food requirements.
 

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hi, i just got my hedgehog and she has been geting fed puiena catfood dry my mom went out and bought her some sunseed hedgehog formula and ive been reading its not a good idea to feed it to her straight, now i literly have had her for 2 days now and i do not know if there is a certain thing to mix with it, should i just go buy some puriena dry cat food to mix with it or is there something better to buy? without cooking for her every day
thanks melissa
 

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Reaper, you have been a lot of health, because I was mixing vitakraft with 8 in 1 ultra bites, so I'll just mix the 8 in 1 with some cat food :)
 

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From Most of the commercial hedgie food I've read the backs of...Most contain either corn or other types of "Filler" Or lots of stuff like barley, Oats, Hay etc Which Aren't hedgies more Insectivores/omnivores in the sense that they in the wild don't sit and eat oats and barley and grass all day??

I feed Natural Balance Low-Cal Cat Food. And Also offer my hedgies hard boiled eggs, and cooked plain chicken here and there, on top of mealies and occasional veggie or fruit treat. Sometimes meat based baby food as well like chicken or turkey.

Besides personally, With most exotic animals these days, they really haven't been studied much as pets scientifically reguarding the best approach for there diets. For Example, Ferrets, For many years it was suggested to feed them cat food...recently with there growing population many commercial diets have been on the shelf...Keep in mind ferrets are more or less carnivores. There is commercial food for ferrets that contains ONLY Fruits, Seeds, Nuts, And Veggies...That is an AWFUL diet for a carnivore...and people are mislead. Some products are purely Shrimp, Fish, Etc Guts and by-product which causes ferrets to have a really bad odor reguardless of being fix/descented. They need a balanced diet of a little omega acids, some chicken, turkey, etc which so far cat foods have been able to provide more often then commercial ferret food. The few decent ferret foods on the market contain similar ingredients as good cat foods on the market...except you pay $20/3-5lbs ferret food OR $20/10-15lbs Cat Food.

This is just an example of why I personally don't use commercial food...There is just to many to choose from and not enough research done...Besides most cost an arm and a leg based on the fact there selling food for an exotic animal...when the food contains nothing more expensive/special then any other food often times...the ingredients are much cheaper quality in most "Exotic Specific" foods as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You are correct... At present there is no "one" food that seems to meet all hedgie nutritional needs so a mix of foods still seems to be the best. As I have discussed on other topics the average life span for a wild white bellied or Algerian hedgehog is about 2 years. The easiest way to increase the lifespan in captivity is diet. For a while many breeders and enthusiasts would feed the absolute "best" foods and it seems too good of food was "too rich". Once these breeders added a "junk" food to their hedgies diets they saw those hedgies living longer. Yes hedgies are insectivores but they are also opportunistic scavengers in the wild. So their diet should consist of several things. Gail Dick of Millermeade Farms describes it this way: "You don't want your children to eat nothing but french fries, but a few once in a while makes them happy and doesn't hurt them." So it is with hedgies as well. Many breeders add what I call a "junk" food in their mix. And many believe it has extended the lifespan of their hedgies. It makes sense and it may make our hedgies a little happier. So I add Spike's Delight Premium hedgehog food in my mix as my quilled ones were fed it at the breeders. They don't eat it all the time but will pick it out of the mix on occasion. So the consensus on diet still seems to be a mix of at least three(the more variety the better IMO) quality cat foods or African hedgie foods along with live bugs,cooked chicken, turkey, eggs, fresh fruit and veggies as treats will ensure the best possible diet to increase our quilled friends lives.
 

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Reaper said:
Many breeders add what I call a "junk" food in their mix. And many believe it has extended the lifespan of their hedgies. It makes sense and it may make our hedgies a little happier. So I add Spike's Delight Premium hedgehog food in my mix as my quilled ones were fed it at the breeders. They don't eat it all the time but will pick it out of the mix on occasion. So the consensus on diet still seems to be a mix of at least three(the more variety the better IMO) quality cat foods or African hedgie foods along with live bugs,cooked chicken, turkey, eggs, fresh fruit and veggies as treats will ensure the best possible diet to increase our quilled friends lives.
Reaper, what are your suggestions for a "junk" food to add to the food mix? I see you use Spike's Delight Premium, but I'm not sure if that would be easy to find in my area (though I haven't really looked). If I can't find it easily, what are some other suggestions? Do you mean something with fillers in it (like corn)? Like maybe a higher-end grocery cat food? Or what about Nutro Max...would that count as junk? (That would be nice, cause I can get that for free, lol!) I just want my hedgie to live as long as possible!!
 

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This thread is so helpful for a new Hedgie parent. Thank you all for the information. I have a question please. My baby came to me 7 weeks old and has been eating Pretty Pets Hedgehog food, I assume since she was recently weaned?. I have bought her several foods to mix together as suggested by all of you. I also bought the Pretty Pets until I could figure out how to switch her to the better foods. Should I just mix the Pretty Pets with the other food and make the switch now? Or.. do I keep feeding her Pretty Pets and introduce the mix slowly? I feel like these early weeks are so important to give her proper nutrients. I don't like the idea of giving her a food that should be considered junkfood.

Does anyone have a recipe for making your own Hedgie food perhaps?

Thanks so much for your help.
 

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If she was from a pet store, it's because they didn't know the right nutritional values and pretty pets said "hedgehog food" so "Oh it has to be suitable because it says hedgehog food!" ...which we know is not the case.
Mix it in slowly at first to try to avoid tummy upset (like 1/4 new food, 3/4 old)--but in most cases, the hedgehog starts totally ignoring the pretty pets after getting kibble. Try just doing one new kibble at a time so you know if one causes tummy problems. After a few days of mixing that one kibble in if she's totally ignoring the pretty pets (which is often the case, because most hedgies HATE it) and hasn't had any tummy problems from it, I would just totally give her the one new food--then after a week or two, mix in a second, etc.

Congratulations on the little girl, by the way. :)
 

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You will probably find that as soon as you add a different food in, she will never look at the Pretty Pets again. If you have not opened the new bag yet, I suggest taking it back to the store. :)
 
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