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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
1) I recently started feeding wax worms to help my girls gain some weight back after being sick. The beddding they come with is very strange. It looks like woodchips but smells sweet? Does anyone know what this is? I usually put the mealies I buy on my own organic bedding with cat food for at least a week before feeding them to my hedgehogs to help "clear out" any bad stuff they were being fed before. Do waxworms need to wood chip thingys? Or can I put them on mealworm bedding too? I've tried googling it but every site tells me something different so I'm confused. Anyone else feed waxworms on here?

2) I recently changed the bedding in my mealworm farm and noticed that the current bedding was stuck together and solid but only at the bottom and smelled a little pine-like (ie. grain mites), but only at the bottom too. I threw all the bedding out and put the mealworms from the top of the bin (the non-clumped, non-pine smelling part) in ziploc bags with fresh bedding. They have been eating the fresh bedding for 2 weeks now - and do not smell pine-like at all. Do you think they are okay to feed now?

3) I bought new mealworms from the pet store to feed after my mealworm farm got all clumpy, but Petsmart has changed insect companies and these mealworms smell really different, kinda like bloodworms almost? It's a very rich, strange smell. The bedding the mealworms are on is darker and I don't know what it is but it is what is causing the smell. I put the mealworms in a bin with my usual mealworm bedding but a little bit of their old bedding fell in too. It's been 3 weeks and they still smell like bloodworms. I am very hesitant to feed since I have heard horror stories about hedgehogs dying from petstore mealies. Has anyone else ever experienced the weird smell? They are supplied by NationalReptileSupply.com but the website won't tell me anything about the bedding they use unless I'm a buyer and have a password. The waxworms I have been feeding are from NationalReptileSupply.com too and my hedgehogs haven't gotten sick from those.

4) I have always fed my hedgehogs freeze-dried crickets with their kibble. I asked about feeding freeze-dried crickets initially when I first started (a year ago) and no one said anything bad like they do with the freeze-dried mealies. I give Puff and Chloe 3 per night, but they usually only eat 1/2 of one or 1 at the most. However now that they are eating again after being sick they have both decided they suddenly really like the freeze-dried crickets and are eating all 2-3 freeze-dried crickets per night.

Should I cut them back to 1 freeze-dried cricket per night? I have never been concerned about impaction before, but they never ate all of them before either. I actually pull the legs off the crickets too, since those are the hardest part and I read a veterinary story once about a sick dog that had a impaction from grasshopper legs and that got me all worried about that.

I'm not sure why I'm suddenly all over-concerned about things like bugs. I think now that my girls are finally healthy again (more or less) I just do not want to have sick hedgies again!

Any advice is appreciated :)
 

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Shortly after you talked about the clumpy bedding I noticed that mine ended up getting it also. The only thing I was able to determine was the cause was moisture because I put a fruit in there instead of the carrot pieces I normally do. I took it out and my containers have a lot of ventillation but I noticed the clumping. The main ingredient in my beds are oats, the only other thing I could think that would cause it to clump like that is if the bettles layed eggs in it and made it clump (I took them out and put the clumps in another container as an experiment and noticed that there were some baby worms that ended up hatching, may not mean anything but I was curious to find out why too). I noticed the clumping only happens in the bettle container never the aliens or meal worms. From what I was reading on the pine smell is sometimes its from grain mites but that it can also be when there is too much frass in the container and that the person who was writing about it would just sift the frass in a screen into the garbage. I think they said you can throw it out or put it aside in a new container in case there is any eggs in it. I didn't feed any of the worms that hatched from the clumpy container yet either because I was unsure. I just put them on there own and gave them clean bedding and eats.

Im not sure about the insects but I am really interested in the idea of being able to feed different ones. I remember hearing that dead mealies lack the enzyme needed to aid in digestion of the chitin but not sure if this is the same thing with the dead crickets. I have made a small observation with my hedgehog and noticed that his skin is less dry when he has insects than when he doesn't. If Loken gets some mealworms everynight then his skin seems perfect so Im wondering if its just mine, or possibly something in the insect ( maybe fat, or a compound. I have also noticed he is more active if he consistantly gets his insect treats.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I am pretty sure mine was caused by excess moisture also, as I noticed it after using apples instead of carrots. That's an interesting point about the frass causing the pine smell, as the bedding was due for a full change so there was definitely lots of frass.

Hopefully someone else with more mealie breeding experience will chime in! I had posted a similar post a while back in the Mealworm Farm thread, but no one ever replied so I thought I'd ask again in this post.

I'm not sure about the freeze-dried crickets either. Like I said I had posted about it when I was very new to the hedgehog scene and no red flags came up so I kept feeding them. I hadn't even thought about it to be honest until just lately.
 

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(1) Live waxworms are more difficult to keep than mealworms because they're more perishable. Waxworms are prone to mould easily. Very hard to culture/farm at home too. Wood-chips are there to absorb moisture so that waxworms don't go mouldy. The sweet smell you detected is probably from aromatic lumber used in the wood-chips. Some reptile owners warn about toxic chemicals used to keep wood-chips fresh and sweet smelling longer, so, if you're not sure the wood-chips are chemical-free, it's advisable to dump them out and replace them with something new. Organic wheat bran is a good choice as it's airy. Make sure to keep it dry so that it draws moisture from waxworms.

(2) Clumping is likely from excess moisture from scrap vegetables, frass, and good old gravity, although it's not entirely impossible that you had a mite infestation. Some people recommend microwaving your bedding material before placing mealworms in it. However, nuking something that goes into your hedgie's body just doesn't sit well with me. Luckily for us, grain mites need high humidity (something like 75%) to hatch and reproduce, so our best defence is to keep the substrate well-vented and appropriately moist - avoid excess moisture by checking and turning or replacing it frequently.

(3) I haven't experienced this, so I can't answer. However, I understand that mealworms taste like what they eat. In other words, if they eat carrots, they taste like carrots. If they eat apple, they taste like apple. So if they're eating this strange smelling bedding, the mealworms probably smell like it too. Ask the pet store what is used for their bedding. You don't have to keep the mealworms in the same bedding they came in. You can replace it with your own and see if the smell goes away.

(4) I haven't heard of any case of hedgehog impaction from freeze-dried crickets to date. However, that doesn't mean it won't happen. If I recall correctly, a hedgehog would have to eat a large quantity of freeze-dried mealworms to have an impaction, something like 30 or 40 mealworms a day. So if you're giving your hedgies a moderate amount of freeze-dried crickets, I don't think it would be a problem. Personally, though, I don't like to take chances and prefer to play safe; if there's even a chance of impaction, I would switch to live crickets just to be sure.

Some hedgie experts say hedgehogs don't need to eat insects, as long as they're provided with a balanced diet with good nutrients from other sources. I'm not entirely sure if I agree with this opinion. After all, hedgehogs are insectivora, and I personally think it's better for them to eat what they are intended to eat by Mother Nature. I wish there were more studies done to determine what nutrients hedgehogs need and how much, as well as what kinds of foods are the best for their well-being and longevity. :(

EDIT: A typo corrected.
 

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1. Yes, they are usually kept on very fine wood chips. The sweet smell is likely from their food if there was any mixed in with the chips with them, since they eat a honey/wax based diet. If you are just keeping them in the fridge then you can keep them on the wheat bran/ oats that mealies are kept in also.

2. I agree with hedgieMate that they probably just clumped and started smelling funky from sitting there a bit. I know when I feed something soft like pears or strawberries, the bedding can clump underneath if they don't eat it fast enough and start smelling weird. It doesn't take long for the mealies to eat enough to "get rid of what was in them before" and replace it with good food, so I think you're safe.

3. Not sure about this. Usually they just smell like what they are fed- for example, mine usually smell like apples and carrots. I can't think of what the darker bedding would be but maybe the scent is still lingering from the bit of bedding that was spilled in.

4. I don't see anything wrong with still feeding them the amount of crickets they had before. I haven't fed a whole lot of crickets since 1, they aren't terribly nutritious compared to the roaches I raise, and 2, they smell way worse than other feeder insects. I know Deneen had a hedgehog get an abcess in her mouth from a cricket leg that got stuck in her gums...

LOL anyways besides rambling about crickets, I don't think at that small a number you should worry about impaction. Inky's diet is 1/4 insects and he hasn't ever had any digestive problems (though that doesn't mean a different hedgie would react differently).

Hope that's a little helpful!
 

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With Inkys diet having a good portion of insects in it, have you noticed any differences in him that occur? The reason I wonder is Im really wanting to add some more insects because I noticed that mine seems to have better skin condition and more energy when he has the insects and wanted to know if maybe you noticed something with Inky :)
 

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He's been eating a good quantity of insects each night for a while now, so I'm not sure what his health would be like without them. He skin, ears, fur, etc. are all very good looking. He still loses quills frequently though I doubt that has to do with the bugs. His poop looks good and I haven't found any undigested insects in it. On top of that it makes him so happy every night after weighing to get his treats. Cutest thing ever is to see him wheefling straight to his treat dish after being weighed. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks hedgiemate and LizardGirl for your awesome replies!

1 - I am keeping the waxworms in the fridge so I am gonna switch them over to the oat/wheat bran just in case the wood chips have chemicals. I think you're right LizardGirl about the sweet smell being the food they are being fed.

2/3 - The smell still hasn't gone away despite being in the new bedding for a few weeks, but you're right LizardGirl it could be the bedding I spilled in. None the less, I am not going to take chances and I'm going to chuck the smelly mealies and replace them with the home-grown mealies I have in the ziploc bags currently - since we've all agreed they are safe and got whatever nastiness they had from the clumped bedding out of their system.

4 - I might cut back the freeze-dried crickets or remove them completely anyways. I do feed live crickets as well, the freeze-dried crickets were just something I started putting in their food to tide me over if I ever didn't have any live insects, but I almost always have live insects on hand now so I guess they really aren't neccessary anymore. That's kinda scary about the cricket leg LizardGirl - I actually pull the legs off all the crickets I feed - alive or dead, so I've never had to worry about that.

I agree with both of you, I wouldn't want to not feed my hedgehogs insects. Especially since mine are all so picky about eating fruits/veggies and meats, they don't end up getting a lot of supplemental food outside of their kibble and bugs.

Thanks for all the help :)

Just one more quick question - How long does wheat bran, oat bran, corn meal and flax seed last? My mealies are still on the stuff I bought a LONG time ago from an organic grocery store. It was stuff you bought from bins so there was no expiry dates. I assume the flax seed would go bad faster than the oat bran and wheat bran so I stopped using it, but the other stuff seems fine. Does it ever go bad? Or should I get new stuff?
 

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I would assume it would go a bit stale but I don't think the mealies will care. Personally, mine go through so much of it that it never sits around for more than a month! :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
LizardGirl said:
I would assume it would go a bit stale but I don't think the mealies will care. Personally, mine go through so much of it that it never sits around for more than a month! :lol:
Okay, good to know :D Haha mine would have gone through it except that I bought way too much bedding to begin with. I think I had like 10lbs of each bedding, guess I was a little over-zealous when I started my mealie farm :lol:
 
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