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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey all! Long post ahead... I'm a neurotic mommy apparently~~

My little girl Saltie is 14 months old, and her diet has been mostly Purina ONE Beyond Salmon and Whole Brown Rice for nearly the whole time I've had her, since she was 6 weeks old. I've never broken it up.


A few weeks ago, she was eating when she started choking on her food. It was probably for about 5 or 10 seconds (but the longest 5 or 10 seconds of my life). She made some noises that were sort of squeaky/whimpery coughs, not really gagging, and opened and closed her mouth and squirmed around a little, then she was OK. I had actually noticed that she hadn't been chewing her food much - I was keeping a close eye on her eating at the time because I had fed her a BUNCH of freeze-dried mealworms before seeing online that they can really mess with a hedgie's digestion. Anyway, I threw away the rest of that box of food, figuring it had gotten stale and was tough for her to chew. I happened to have an appointment with the vet the next day and told him about it when I came in; he didn't seem too concerned.

Yesterday it happened again, only this time it must have been a whole minute that she was struggling. I was really scared, like my heart was beating really fast and it's all kind of a blur. But I remember she coughed softly - oh, she's always been a little wheezy in general (she's a bit of a snorer), so it was sorta wheezy - and after a little while she started contorting herself into crazy positions like she will when she's anointing (or just stretching). Clearly she was very very very uncomfortable. Then she went into her tunnel, her favorite spot and also the place where she is totally invisible to me based on the positioning of her cage. I heard her make licky noises, but I hear her making noises like that in her tunnel pretty often. I put my hand in the tunnel to sort of offer some reassurance, and I think maybe I felt a piece of food (a big one, like a whole kibble) fall from her mouth and past my hand...? I forgot to check afterward but she always takes pieces of food into her tunnel anyway so I dunno, maybe I just felt one of those. Soon after that, she was OK and I could see her breathing pretty heavy. I could see her breathing earlier, too, when she first went into the tunnel (and was definitely still struggling).

Afterward, I broke up about half of the food in her bowl to see if she would go for the smaller pieces. (I'm kind of paranoid about that, though - like what if I make the pieces the wrong size and she chokes because she can't chew them at all...? And what if the edges are too sharp from being broken?) I can't really tell what she chose cuz she leaves a lot of crumbs in her bowl anyway when she eats.

She was fine last night, ran on her wheel a lot and pooped and stuff.

I've never thought she had trouble eating in general, but now I'm questioning it. Whenever she bites down on a piece of food, she makes this really adorable squinting face like she's making a huge effort... I always thought it was super cute but now I'm wondering if that's normal or whether she may have a chewing problem...?

Questions:
  • Does it sound like she has trouble eating?
  • Should I continue to break up her food? Should I try to find a less hard food, or moisten this food to make it softer? (Ugh that sounds so gross though.) There's this cat treat she loves, Frisky's Crispies, and I notice she chews it wayyy easier cuz it's just... crispier.
  • What should I do if this happens again? After it happened the first time, I did a bunch of research and found some good resources, including http://www.hedgehogcentral.com/foru...qs-important-topics/2170-choking-what-do.html. But I still have some questions about how to tell how bad the situation is and whether I should step in. How can I tell if she's breathing? Will it be obvious if she isn't?

And here's Saltie in her new snuggle sack, since I made you read through so much!! It's from Quills 'n' Things and is inside out in this pic, tho she loves it both ways. :D

 

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Some of the kibble bits look a little big. Yes, i would continue making the kibble smaller or soaked it in water a little bit. I have never experienced choking in my hedgehog so i will let someone that has answer your other questions. Good luck and your hedgehog is adorable!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Some of the kibble bits look a little big. Yes, i would continue making the kibble smaller or soaked it in water a little bit. I have never experienced choking in my hedgehog so i will let someone that has answer your other questions. Good luck and your hedgehog is adorable!
Thank you! I'll have to try the soaking - maybe it'll turn out she likes it more that way.

Awww she looks so cute in her pink dotted hedgiebag!! Do you mind if i save one of the pictures? I like keeping pictures of my happy customers :)
:mrgreen: I don't mind at all!! Thanks so much, we both love it!!
 

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Do you know if the vet actually looked at her teeth? I would ask him to since that would be my first concern.
I would break the food in half just to be safe- the edges should not be so sharp that it would be a danger and breaking them should not pose any dangers to her I would not think.
All of my hedgehogs have made a squinty face when they eat. My Quinton is so loud I can hear him when I am all the way down in the living room when he is eating his mid night snack upstairs on another floor in my room. They are very crunchy eaters in my experience. But the choking is not normal so for that reason I would have the vet check her teeth and make sure there are no broken teeth or masses.
You said that she is "sniffly" a lot? Like she is stuffed up? Does she have nose or eye discharge, coughing, wheezing, etc?
Sorry I can't be of more help, keep us updated
 
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