• Should You Choose A Species Specific Food?

    Browsing through the pet store, you automatically go for the small pet aisle for food. Right? After all, that is what you have. A small pet. To be exact, a hedgehog. So, you should feed it hedgehog food, of course. Or maybe not?????

    In an ideal world, foods that say they are for hedgehogs would be nutritionally formulated for the needs of the animal that it was created for. However, this is not true. Take the most common food found in many pet stores for hedgehogs. It even says on the box that it is created for hedgehog dietary needs. When you look at the food, it looks like some odd kind of granola cereal. It is rumored that the company manufactured this food after watching hedgehogs foraging in a garbage dump. Therefore, they must eat garbage, so lets just add a little of everything into the food and call it good. Raisins, corn, puffed wheat, etc. Hang on here. Hedgehog = Insectivore. Insectivores can not survive on a diet of grains, fruits, and other plant materials. The main meat source in this food is shrimp meal, which is a food that is highly suspected to cause many food allergies. Not only is this food unacceptable, it is also potentially very harmful for your hedgehog. This is the most dramatically unacceptable "hedgehog" food on the market, but most of the others are not really acceptable either.

    The main ingredients in most foods that are manufactured for hedgehogs are corn based. Corn is the top ingredient in many hedgehog foods, and in some, appears multiple times in the top few ingredients in different forms. Corn is basically an undigestable filler product, that is available very cheap for manufacturers. A good way to make a big box of food very cheaply. However, what this does for your hedgehog, is creates the need for them to eat large quantities of the food in order to obtain the nutritional necessities. And since they are eating large quantities of a basically undigestable product? Guess where most of your food money ends up. Yep. Poop. Huge piles of poop. As well, some hedgehog diets add things such as garlic in substantial quantities in their foods. What does this make??? Huge piles of very STINKY poop. One of the main culprits of hedgehogs being turned into rescue due to odor problem are food issues. The owners buy the "best", a well known hedgehog food, thinking they are doing their hedgehog a favor, and then become disgusted by the hedgehog when it becomes almost impossible to keep the cage area nose-friendly.

    So, until a nutritional study is made with accurate dietary needs of hedgehogs, where should you turn? At this point in time, the best place to look for a suitable food for your hedgehog is the cat food aisle. Skip over the majority of the low cost store brand cat foods. These are remarkably similar in main ingredients as the hedgehog foods that we have already decided are not acceptable. Go straight to the higher quality brands. These are the ones that contain good meat sources as the main ingredients. While they may not be exactly the same as the needed diet of a hedgehog, at least the overall properties of the food will be similar. Insects are good sources of protein. Meats are also protein sources, instead of corn, which does not provide any of the animal protein that hedgehogs are suited to digest. Therefore, a good quality meat source is going to be more easily digested into useable nutrition, reducing the hedgehog's intake requirements, and cutting back on the quantity of waste materials that pass through as poop. Less poop makes EVERYONE happy, when the hedgehog's nutritional needs are being met.