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Thread: What if obesity is not an issue?

  1. #1
    Junior Member LuvLuLu's Avatar
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    What if obesity is not an issue?

    Hi everyone, I just posted an introduction and already asking to pick your brains

    The question is: if obesity and constipation are not issues, is it possible to feed too many worms?

    Our LuLu is 5 months old, and weighs 240 grams (she reached this milestone today after fluctuating in the 130's for the past month). She runs 7-10 miles a night on her cake-top wheel. She spends an hour every day supervised in her play pen where she is very active on her obstacle course, running through her fleece forest, and running on her saucer wheel. She spends 2-3 hours a night with hubby and me lying in our hands or on our laps, inactive, while we stroke her sides, rub her belly and massage her tiny little feet. She rolls her eyes in bliss, and farts, and we are totally in love.

    I've always been concerned about her weight. We got her at exactly 6 weeks old, reputable breeder, and she weighed 108 grams. She is shaped like a Twinkie, but I can barely see her waist dip in. From the front, her shape is more of an A than a C tipped over, and I can feel her little bones. I took her to the vet (experienced with hedgehogs), she never once balled up so he examined her thoroughly, asked about her diet, listened to my concerns, pronounced her very healthy, and suggested we add wax worms to her diet as well as the mealworms we had been feeding her.

    So....this is her diet: 1 tbsp high fat baby mix kibble, 1 tsp freeze-dried chicken breast reconstituted in organic apple juice (she has a sweet tooth but in general is picky about treats), half tsp of yogurt mixed with half tsp of pumpkin (yogurt because she likes it, pumpkin for fiber), three mealworms daily for fiber (chitin) and 10 wax worms daily for fat. All the worms get gut-loaded with spinach for calcium, then frozen. About half the wax worms are in her treat bowl and moistened with olive oil for her skin. The others are hand-fed without the olive oil.

    My high fat baby mix kibble probably has a fat content of 18-20%. I buy it already mixed from Kimberly Goertzen. I free-feed, but LuLu only eats about 1 tbsp daily. Even if I cut back on treats, she eats the same amount of kibble.

    All this time, I've been blissfully stuffing her with fattening wax worms feeling secure in the knowledge that she is not obese and suddenly it occurred to me that I might be courting fatty liver disease. I can't find a reference to this happening without obesity being a factor.

    What say you, experienced hedgehog owners/breeders?

  2. #2
    For the whole fatty liver disease progression to start they have to have a loss of appetite or not be eating at all. It sounds like she is eating quite a bit for her size so I wouldn't worry too much about that happening. She may struggle to keep on weight as she is very young and active-it should get easier as she gets older. She is like a puppy or kitten right now with a lot to explore. If she gets to the point where she is gaining and gaining quickly, then I would switch her to a lower fat kibble mix and drop some of the wax worms
    Ann
    Connecticut Hedgehogs
    A USDA licensed African pygmy hedgehog breeder located in CT. We serve the tri-state area of CT, New York State and NJ as well as Western MA (and anywhere else you happen to be) Visit our website for more information

  3. #3
    Junior Member LuvLuLu's Avatar
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    Thank you, Ann, for taking the time to reply. I'm breathing a sigh of relief :-)

  4. #4
    One thing to keep in mind is that while hedgies won't usually gorge on their kibble, they can gorge on treats. I came across a research study once that showed that hedgehogs that were free fed mealworms DOUBLED their weight in 6 weeks!! So, it's best to assume the yum factor will outweigh the appetite factor and keep a limit on the worms before a problem develops. Mealworms are pretty low on chitin- it's beetles that have a lot of it, so if you can get her to eat the beetles, she'll benefit a lot more. I'm not sure why you're adding extra fat- hedgies need to watch their fat intake as too much fat does gradually lead to fatty liver. The studies that Dr Graffam did in the 90s addressed hedgies' dietary needs and I never copied down her data because I didn't think the site that had it would fold, but it did. We shoot for 10 to 15% fat in our hedgies diet, and they also need about 15% fiber. A lot of my hedgies adore cheerios, so that is an easy source of fiber. When I got my first hedgies, people fed a lot of Iams kitten food and other kibble that might be really good for cats, but not so much for hedgehogs- fatty liver was rampant, even with hedgies that were not obese.

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