How To Put Weight On A Hedgehog

African pygmy hedgehog on a wooden branch as owner asks about How To Put Weight On A Hedgehog

Hedgehogs need a healthy weight to enjoy better lives but stunted growth could occur in some circumstances. Your responsibility as a hedgehog parent in such instances is to provide the right diet to boost weight gain.

This article outlines how to put weight on a hedgehog by providing diets with a good track record of triggering healthy growth. We uncover the common reasons why hedgehogs fail to gain normal weight and the right steps to minimize those instances in the first place. Let’s dive straight in.

How To Put Weight On A Hedgehog

Feeding dry or wet cat food containing 15-20 percent fat and 30 percent protein, cooked ground meatballs, and mealworms are good options to help hedgehogs put on some weight. Treats like hardboiled eggs and mealworms a few times a week can also boost the calorie intake of hedgehogs to stimulate weight gain.

The key to stimulating weight gain is to ensure the number of calories consumed by hedgehogs exceeds what is expended via physical activity. As long as that is figured out, healthy weight gain becomes possible.

What Can I Feed My Hedgehog to Put On Some Weight?

Thin Hedgehogs need a bit more fat to ramp up their weight to healthy levels. Here are a few foods that can help boost their fat intake and hopefully enhance their body weight.

Wet Cat Food

hedgehog eating wet cat food

Wet cat food can be a great option for hedgehogs that are too thin for their age. They come in hundreds of brands but we recommend those offering 15-20 percent fat and 30 percent protein for maximum chances of success.

Wet cat food is available in different flavors so you may have to try a few to figure out your hedgehog’s favorites. In our experience, poultry-based options are typically embraced by hedgehogs but the only way to be sure is to pour them into their food bowls.

Ground Meat Balls

If you have a fuzzy eater that is refusing to touch most foods offered, ground meatballs could be a great option. Lean meats like chicken, duck, and turkey can be ground into balls and cooked for your beloved hedgehog.

Hedgehogs with extremely low body fat may fare better with beef since it typically contains more calories and can help them gain weight much quicker. Your hedgehog could easily take a liking to the taste of beef and become more receptive to eating it.

However, this should only be a temporary measure because once their weight levels pick up, you’ll have to tone down the number of calories offered to protect your hedgehogs from obesity.

Baked Sweet Potatoes With Turkey Puree

Baked sweet potatoes pureed with turkey into a baby food-like finish has shown positive results among some of the fuzziest eaters, according to many hedgehog owners. Not only do hedgehogs love the aroma but the taste can be very attractive.

The mixture could be rich in calories increasing the probability of stimulating weight gain to enhance the health of your hedgehog. It is easy to digest and suitable for hedgehogs of all ages.


Mealies are popular among hedgehogs due to their awesome taste. It is also rich in calories compared to popular insects like crickets and roaches. A bi-weekly offering of mealworms can encourage weight gain in even the thinnest hedgehogs resulting in positive rewards for your efforts.

Mealworms are available in most pet stores in North America and may be found online as well. You can try a small bag to examine your hedgehog’s reaction before splurging on a bigger quantity. (Source)

Hardboiled Eggs

2 hardboiled eggs with one split in half

Hedgehogs find hardboiled eggs irresistible and adding them to the mix of recommended diets can improve their chances of weight gain. They love the taste of egg yolks in particular, which is a rich source of calories to help them pile on some much-needed pounds.

Eggs may also be scrambled with a drop of olive oil to enhance the taste and increase the hedgehog’s calorie intake. A weekly offering of hardboiled eggs can act as a timely booster for your efforts to help your beloved quill baby put on some weight.

Spaying or Neutering Hedgehogs For Weight Gain

Spaying or neutering your hedgehog is a tried and tested method for promoting weight gain. Neutering leads to the loss of sex hormones which decreases their metabolism rates and effectively lowers their energy needs.

The result is healthy weight gain even from low-fat diets which can be lifesaving for thin hedgehogs that refuse to eat healthy food portions regardless of how hard you try.

Why is My Hedgehog Not Eating?

Sometimes, hedgehogs refuse to eat due to distractions in new environments because it takes them time to get used to the new surroundings. Also, providing a running wheel too early after arrival in a new home can take their minds off eating as they focus more on the pleasure from physical activity.

It is not uncommon for hedgehogs to run for more than 3 hours each night leaving little time to undertake other important tasks like eating. Besides, some hedgehogs are just fuzzy eaters that outrightly reject most foods offered.

What Is A Healthy Weight For A Hedgehog?

The average healthy hedgehog should weigh 1-2lbs depending on circumstances such as age, sex, breed, and genetics. A 5-month-old hedgehog should weigh at least 1lb and should be put on a calorie-rich diet immediately if you notice lower figures.

How To Weigh a Hedgehog

hedgehog on a glass surface placed on a weight scale after owner finds instructions on How To Weigh a Hedgehog

Weighing a hedgehog involves putting a lightweight plastic container that can accommodate him onto the weight scale. Set the scale to zero and put the hedgehog in the plastic container for placement on the scale.

Wait until the hedgehog stabilizes on the weight scale before recording the reading. The figure displayed is your hedgehog’s weight and should be taken note of. We recommend weighing them regularly and keeping records of their figures to know which direction their body weight is headed.

How Quickly Do Hedgehogs Gain Weight?

Young hedgehogs can gain up to 20 grams per day when put on the right diet. However, weight gain may slow down as they age. Putting your hedgehog on the weight scale regularly can provide timely updates on whether your efforts are yielding fruit or not.

How Do You Forcefeed a Hedgehog?

Hedgehogs can be force-fed baby food and wet cat food with a syringe. The process involves loading the syringe with food and gently squeezing it into the hedgehog’s mouth to allow enough time for swallowing or spitting out.

This can prevent choking on the food which can pose more problems for hedgehogs. Slow feeding also allows enough time for them to get used to eating this way. The aim should be getting the hedgehog to eat 10cc of food daily for maximum results.

Why Is My Hedgehog Underweight?

Hedgehogs do not become thin by accident because there are always underlying reasons and a few are discussed below.

Inadequate Breast Milk Can Trigger Thin Hedgehogs

Hedgehog litter sizes can be as large as 8 and it is normal that one or two are robbed of the needed access to breast milk from their mother. The result is thin babies that show growth deficiencies right from their first few weeks of life.

Such hoglets are likely to suffer weight issues practically all their lives unless put on special calorie-rich diets like wet cat food, mealworms, and eggs.

Avid Runners Are Often Underweight

hedgehog on a running wheel

Hedgehogs love to run on their wheels at night when many of us are enjoying the delights of Dreamland. Those that run more are typically going to have issues maintaining normal weight since they end up burning more calories than consumed.

A smart tip is to install an odometer to check the distance of your hedgehog’s running each night. Hedgehogs that run more than 10km per night should be given diets rich in extra calories to offset what is expended via physical activity.

Genetics May Result in Thin Hedgehogs

Just like some humans are naturally born thin, genetics can play a huge part in the weight of hedgehogs. Some quill babies are born with high metabolism rates which promote rapid calorie burning and a higher probability of being underweight.

You may have to double down on the number of calories fed to these hedgehogs to enhance the chances of triggering weight gain.

Fuzzy Eaters Do Not Gain Healthy Weight

If your hedgehogs are fuzzy eaters, no wonder they are struggling to put on healthy weight. Lots of creativity may become necessary to boost their appetite and baby food is often a solid choice for gaining their attention.

We recommend baking sweet potatoes, mixing them up with cooked turkey or chicken, and pureeing it into a baby food-like finish. Even the fuzziest hedgehogs may take a liking to this diet which can increase the chances of ramping up their weight to healthy levels.

Conclusion: How To Put Weight On A Hedgehog

Underweight hedgehogs can put on some weight when fed high-fat dry or wet cat food. Homemade options like ground meatballs, sweet potatoes, and cooked turkey puree could help boost their calorie intake.

Offering treats rich in fats like mealworms and hardboiled egg yolks can also enhance the number of calories ingested to improve your hedgehog’s weight. Non-dietary options like spaying or neutering may also lower the number of calories expended daily to trigger weight gain.

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