How To Put a Hedgehog On A Diet: 5 Smart Ways!

dry cat food for overweight hedgehog on a diet

Have you seen signs of chubbiness in your hedgehog or had to be yelled at by your vet to finally notice the unhealthy piling on of pounds? Either way, obesity can put your hedgehog at risk of diseases including diabetes and heart problems which are common causes of death.

This article outlines how to put a hedgehog on a diet by discussing the right food options to stimulate weight loss. We also reveal signs of obesity and additional methods to manage your hedgehog’s weight without problems. Let’s get started.

How To Put a Hedgehog On A Diet

Feeding low-fat dry cat food mixed with healthy vegetables or fruits can help hedgehogs lose weight. Baby food is another excellent option for hedgehogs on a diet as it limits their calorie intake. Also, offering low-fat treats like dried crickets and Dubya roaches instead of mealworms which typically contain high amounts of fat could promote weight loss.

The number one cause of obesity in hedgehogs is high-fat diets and unfortunately, many owners pay little attention to the nutritional information on packaged diets ordered from the pet store. Over time, the hedgehog begins to pile on unhealthy pounds which can affect their quality of life in a variety of ways.

Fortunately, putting hedgehogs on a healthy diet could help trim their bodies of potentially harmful fat and protect them from various avoidable health problems.

How Much Should a Hedgehog Eat a Day?

The average hedgehog requires up to 100 calories every 24 hours which translates to 2-3 teaspoons of food. Overfeeding can result in weight gain which increases the risk of exposure to numerous health problems that could turn fatal.

How Much Should A Healthy Hedgehog Weigh?

weight scale indicating How Much Should A Healthy Hedgehog Weigh

A healthy hedgehog should weigh between 1-2 pounds depending on factors such as age, breed, sex, and genetics. We recommend putting them on a diet immediately after you realize their weight has exceeded the maximum threshold for good health.

What Do You Feed an Overweight Hedgehog?

Allowing your hedgehog to gain excess weight reflects poorly on you as their human parent and it is vital to put them on the right diet to trigger weight loss. Here are the best options for feeding overweight hedgehogs.

1. Low Fat Dry Cat Food for Overweight Hedgehogs

Cat food forms the base of the hedgehog’s diet and is a leading cause of obesity when the right options are not provided. Overweight hedgehogs should be fed low-fat dry cat food to limit their calorie intake and help trigger weight loss.

Cat food comes in numerous brands with different ingredients and nutritional information but we recommend poultry-based options with 35 percent protein and 15 percent fat content. Poultry is a healthy lean meat that can help meet the weight loss needs of your pet hedgehog.

2. Vegetables Are Awesome for Obese Hedgehogs

Vegetables are a great option when your hedgehogs weigh more than they should. Many hedgehogs are fuzzy eaters that may reject fresh vegetables served independently so the trick is to mix them up with regular cat food.

The presence of meat in the vegetable diet could make it more attractive to hedgehogs which may increase the chances of consumption. Vegetables should be sliced in tiny sizes to make ingestion easier.

”Hard” options like carrots and potatoes should be steamed first to soften them up for the hedgehog’s fragile digestive system. Steaming makes it easier to mix up vegetables with kibble and in most cases, the hedgehog cannot tell the difference.

Vegetables may help fill up the hedgehog’s tummy much quicker which reduces the amount of cat food needed to be consumed. The result is healthy weight loss within a short period in addition to immune system improvements and enhanced skin.

A few recommended vegetables include:

  • Arugula
  • Carrots
  • Collard greens
  • Green Peppers
  • Kale
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach

3. Baby Food is Solid For Hedgehog Weight Loss

baby being fed

Baby food can be a great alternative to fresh vegetables for hedgehogs that need to lose weight. It usually contains limited fat making it a good fit for hedgehogs that have piled on unhealthy pounds.

Most hedgehogs love the scent and taste of baby food so you should have little problems getting them to consume it. Even if they show some initial resistance, it is only a matter of time before they fall in love with it.

4. Crickets and Dubya Roaches Can Stimulate Weight Loss In hedgehogs

Low-fat insect diets like dried crickets and Dubya Roaches can be a great treat for overweight hedgehogs. They’re easy to find in pet stores and online at affordable prices. Domesticated hedgehogs love to be offered occasional treats like insects because it reminds them of their time in the wild.

Mealworms are a popular treat among hedgehog owners but their fat percentage may be high leading to an increased probability of piling on the pounds.

5. Yolk-Free Hardboiled Eggs

Hardboiled eggs are another favorite treat for hedgehogs. They love the taste in addition to the high protein content which offers many health benefits. However, the yolk can be a source of fat so we recommend removing it from the egg before feeding.

Eggs may also be scrambled without butter, oil, spices, and other ingredients that could pose problems for hedgehogs.

Can Access to Drinking Water Help Weight Loss in Hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs need consistent access to drinking water to enhance digestion and fill them up for weight loss. Water also promotes the proper functioning of the hedgehog’s internal organs and eliminates dehydration as well as related problems like urinary tract infections.

Signs That Your Hedgehog is Overweight

Knowing the signs of obesity in hedgehogs can help you take the necessary steps like putting them on a low-fat diet in time before it is too late. Here are the top clues that your hedgehog is overweight.

Extra Underarm Skin In Obese Hedgehogs

Overweight hedgehogs typically show extra skin in their underarms and this can be quite obvious for owners who handle them regularly. It may be subtle in the beginning but it becomes obvious over time as the extra underarm skin stands out more.

Double Chins Are A Sign of Obesity

Have you noticed a double chin in your hedgehog? That’s a sign of obesity and a warning that their weight needs to be looked at before things go further downhill. In most instances, double chins are typically found with one or more additional signs of obesity.

Curling Up Difficulties in Overweight Hedgehogs

hedgehog curled up in owner's hands

Obese hedgehogs may struggle to curl up in a ball even when hissed at. The excess pounds reduce their natural flexibility making it impossible for them to roll up in a ball even when they find themselves in fearful scenarios like approaches by predators.

Hump Shoulders In Hedgehogs With Excess Weight

If your hedgehog is walking around with a hump on its shoulder, chances are it is overweight and needs to trim down its body fat. Close monitoring is the best way to spot physical changes like this in your hedgehog.

Hedgehog’s Weight Figures Do Not Lie

Putting your hedgehog on the weight scale regularly is one of the best ways to detect weight gain even before the signs become apparent. The average adult African Pygmy hedgehog weighs 1-2 pounds so additional grams of weight should be taken as a warning to spring into action before obesity sets in. (Source)

Walking Difficulties

Overweight hedgehogs often struggle to walk and even when they do manage it, movements can be significantly slow. If your hedgehog experiences labored movements with no signs of illness or injury such as leg fractures, the probability of being overweight is high.

Why Exercise is Critical for Obese Hedgehogs

Apart from feeding the right diet, exercise can be critical for obese hedgehogs. Unlike those in the wild that walk and run several miles at night foraging for food and water, caged hedgehogs need to run to burn the accumulated calories from their diet.

Running wheels can be critical for maintaining a healthy weight in hedgehogs. It can also help encourage calorie deficits to boost weight loss.

Conclusion: How To Put a Hedgehog On A Diet

A diet of low-fat cat food mixed with vegetables can be great for obese hedgehogs to shed some extra pounds. Baby formula and low-fat treats like dried crickets could also come in handy as healthy occasional treats for triggering weight loss.

Regular exercises should be incorporated into their lives to speed up the weight loss process and exercise wheels may be crucial. An hour of running each night can help them shed considerable amounts of fat and fortunately, the average hedgehog runs approximately 3 hours per night.

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