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Fresh Foods & Treats

- Here's a list of safe fruits/veggies/other treats for hedgehogs: http://www.hedgehogcentral.com/forums/12-diet-nutrition/17725-treat-list-safe-fruits-veggies.html

- Many people ask about supplementing a diet with fresh foods. Some things should stay treats only - such as fruit (high sugar content), sugary or watery veggies (listed in the link), or fatty insects (waxworms, sometimes mealworms), wet cat food (if high in fat/protein), or freeze-dried anything (risk of impaction).

- Supplementing your hedgie's diet with fresh meat and veggies is a great way to give them some variety, fresh nutrients, and can be a good way to bond with your hedgehog too (rewarding with favorite treats, for example). Just be careful to keep a balance between fresh supplements and kibble amounts unless you're attempting a full home-cooked diet with no kibble (more info below). Offering half of the amount of kibble eaten daily in fresh food would be an acceptable amount, but no more than that. For example, if your hedgehog typically eats 2 tablespoons of kibble, offer no more than 1 tablespoon of fresh/cooked foods nightly. Make sure your hedgehog is still eating his kibble unless you're prepared to make sure his cooked diet is fully balanced and able to support his needs.

- Make sure if any of the greens you want to feed are herbs, that you research them and their common side-effects or uses. Some herbs have medicinal uses and it could be very easy to overdose a hedgehog with these. Read more about herbs here: http://www.hedgehogcentral.com/forums/12-diet-nutrition/6460-herbs.html

- Keep in mind that hedgehogs can be very picky, some more than others. Your hedgie may never try a single bit of fresh food, no matter how many times you offer it. Some may find particular favorites, then turn their nose up at everything else. If your hedgie refuses to try something, give it some time and try offering again later - they may give it a try once they've seen it multiple times, or their tastes may change as they get older. You can also try offering the food in a different form.

Ways to Offer Fresh Foods

Baby food: A great way to easily offer different fruits & veggies to your hedgie. Different foods can be mixed together (a meat with a veggie) to see if it entices hedgie to try (since meat is often a favorite) or to offer a few foods at once. Baby food can be frozen in ice cube trays, then saved in baggies to avoid wasting any. If you keep it in the fridge after opening instead, make sure to throw it away after 3-4 days. You can also make your own baby food by pureeing veggies, fruit, or meat.

Raw/fresh: The easiest option, just give it raw! This is best with fruits or softer veggies - be careful of harder veggies like carrots. Make sure food is cut up into small pieces to avoid choking. Meat shouldn't be given raw unless you've done the necessary research into a raw diet - raw meat has risks such as bacteria and parasites.

Cooked: Veggies can be cooked to make them softer. Steamed is the method that preserves the most nutrients, but they can also be baked or boiled in water. If fried in a pan, make sure to only use a tiny amount of a healthy oil, or no oil. You could cook meat together with veggies in a pan to give veggies a bit of meat flavor to encourage a meat-loving hedgie to try their veggies.

Frozen/canned: Frozen fruits and veggies are a good option if fresh is unavailable or too expensive. Frozen typically has almost as many nutrients intact as fresh food. Fruit/veggies could be thawed and fed, or cooked first. Canned fruit and veggies should be chosen carefully - look for ones with no added sugar or salt.

Chop: If your hedgie is a veggie fan, you could try out the "Chop" concept that is often used for parrots, and made popular by Patricia Sund - http://parrotnation.com/tag/chop-concept/ . This consists of just putting washed/dried (and peeled, if necessary) vegetables through a food processor until they're the desired size. You then mix all of the chopped veggies together & bag. This mix can be easily frozen to last for weeks or months. If your hedgie is hesitant with veggies, but likes meat, you could try mixing meat in with the mix, or mix the veggies into a meat baby food.

Meatballs: Some people have attempted making meatballs for hedgies - http://www.hedgehogcentral.com/forums/12-diet-nutrition/11219-meatballs-ingredients-how.html This could be another good way to get a meat-loving hedgie to try some new veggies. This could also be a good method for a home-cooked diet.
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