Why is My Hedgehog Not Eating?

wild European hedgehogs eating on grass as owner asks Why is my hedgehog not eating?

The average hedgehog requires 70-100 calories daily which translates to 1-3 tablespoons of food. The food serves as a source of energy for running and engaging in other forms of physical activity once they wake up at night. Noticing that your hedgehog has stopped eating could be a sign of trouble that needs to be figured out before it is too late.

This article answers the question “Why is My Hedgehog Not Eating?” by revealing potential reasons for appetite losses or complete food rejection in hedgehogs. We also look at potential side effects that may result from the lack of eating for extended periods.

Why is My Hedgehog Not Eating?

Hedgehogs may avoid eating due to changes in their environment or diet as well as sickness, stress, loneliness, and lack of drinking water access. Cage temperature fluctuations and boredom from eating the same diets can also result in low appetite.

Hedgehogs are not the fuzziest eaters among caged pets and a sudden lack of interest in their food is a sign of trouble. Figuring out the underlying reason could help restore their appetite for healthy weight maintenance while keeping the energy supply lines open for continuous physical activity.

Reasons Why Hedgehogs Stop Eating

Shall we delve into the underlying reasons why hedgehogs stop eating so you know how to restore their diets if yours go through the same experience?

1. New Environment

restless African Pygmy hedgehog in a new cage

Hedgehogs need time to get used to new environments due to the fear of the unknown. Even though we may have the noblest of intentions, hedgehogs cannot know that and exercise caution in new surroundings.

Anxiety about their future often translates to a lack of interest in food for the first 2 days after arriving in a new home. A slight interest in whatever is in their food bowls becomes apparent when extreme hunger begins to set in.

This is quite common in animals because eating is typically the last thing on their minds when they arrive in a new environment. New hedgehogs spend their first couple of hours running on their wheels and totally ignore the food and water available in their cages.

Many folks remove the wheels before the hedgehog’s arrival and introduce it back into the cage after 5-7 days. This allows the hedgehog some time to explore and get to know the new habitat without distractions from the running wheel.

Another tip is to serve tasty baby food engineered for hedgehogs during the first few days in the cage. The yummy taste and strong aroma are likely to gain the hedgehogs’ attention much quicker which can minimize the duration of their initial hunger strike.

2. New Diet

Sudden introductions to new diets are a leading cause of appetite losses in hedgehogs. Hedgehogs may get used to a certain diet especially if it is the same one they’ve relied upon since their time with their breeder. Trying to change the hedgehog’s diet overnight can backfire spectacularly which is why details about the specific diet are a critical question to ask breeders before purchase.

The best way to switch to a new hedgehog diet is to introduce it slowly alongside the old diet. For instance, hedgehogs that eat 3 tablespoons of food daily could initially receive half a tablespoon of the new diet mixed with 2 and a half tablespoons of the old.

The new to old food ratio could slowly increase over time until they get used to it. Within a few weeks, the new diet should take over the old completely without side effects like loss of appetite and stunted growth.

3. No Drinking Water

The lack of adequate drinking water can affect the hedgehog’s diet for fear of dying from thirst. Hedgehogs may struggle to drink from water bottles in the beginning since they may have been used to shallow water dishes during their time with the breeder.

The hoglet can translate the struggles of drinking from bottles as a lack of access to water and could adjust its appetite accordingly for fear of dying from thirst. Besides, the hedgehog may not like the changes in the water taste since most cities have different tapwater sources resulting in varying tastes across the board.

Hedgehog parents could resort to serving bottled water at least during the first few days after the new arrival to ease the transition process. But, hoglets can still struggle with the taste if they’re not used to it. Besides, the installed bottles may fail to dispense water at some point due to clogged spouts which could cause dehydration and resultant loss of appetite.

Usually, getting hedgehogs to eat again may require some coaxing and you could start by offering favorite treats like mealies or even sugar-free fruit juice. This can get them excited again to munch whatever is served in their food bowl without hesitation.

4. Sickness

redhaired vet in glasses examines sick African pygmy hedgehog

Infections and sickness can take a heavy toll on the physical and mental well-being of animals which could make food the last thing on their minds. Since many health problems often hit their appetites directly, a lack of eating is usually the first sign of illness in hedgehogs.

Unfortunately, the underlying reasons for illnesses could be numerous, and booking a trip to the vet immediately after noticing that the hedgehog’s food bowl is still full 24 hours later is advisable. Obstructed bowels, digestive problems, and the stress of living in a new habitat could trigger illness in hedgehogs.

The necessary tests should be conducted by the vet for a proper diagnosis of whatever condition the hedgehog may be suffering from. Dental problems, intestinal issues, and other infections could also trigger appetite losses in hedgehogs resulting in additional problems like stunted growth and weight loss.

Appetite boosting medications should get the hedgehog literally back on its feet again. (Source)

5. Loneliness/Stress

Hedgehogs may not look like the most emotionally available pets but they love interactions with trusting owners and can suffer significant issues when robbed of playtime together. Has your hedgehog been robbed of proper physical interactions for several days or weeks?

That could trigger extreme loneliness and resultant side effects including loss of appetite. Resuming physical contact can stimulate happiness and a renewed commitment to staying healthy by eating their food.

6. Cage Temperature Changes

thermometer for cage temperature fluctuations

Hedgehogs thrive in temperatures ranging from 75F to 85F and maintaining the stipulated range in their cages could be key. Hedgehogs may show extreme signs of distress when exposed to cold temperatures and this could trigger side effects including loss of appetite and even hibernation.

Hot temperatures could also affect their appetite although hedgehogs would rather live in slightly warm habitats than the opposite. Apart from the appetite disruptions, hedgehogs may also estivate, a form of hibernation that occurs during exposure to extreme heat.

7. Dietary Boredom

Do you get tired of eating the same food day in and day out? Dietary boredom is not only real in humans but prevalent in animals like hedgehogs too. If your hedgehogs have been offered monotonous diets without changes for extended periods, it is time to spice it up a bit.

Fruits and vegetables can be a great start as well as treats such as mealies, cockroaches, and crickets which hedgehogs find irresistible. Apples and watermelons, for instance, can be made into smoothies for the hedgehog’s consumption.

How Long Can A Hedgehog Not Eat?

Hedgehogs may stop eating for no more than 3 days and going past that could increase the risk of fatalities. Book a vet appointment immediately after noticing that your quill baby has not eaten for 2 days. The vet may force-feed the hedgehog with a syringe in the meantime while the underlying reasons for the food rejection are figured out.

Do Hedgehogs Need to Eat Everyday?

woman holds red apple and asks Do Hedgehogs Need to Eat Everyday?

Hedgehogs need 70 to 100 calories per day to maintain body functionality and keep up energy levels for running and other vital physical activities. Failure to eat regularly can cause numerous problems including lethargy and stress.

How Do I Get A New Hedgehog To Eat?

Offering favorites like mealworms and Dubya roaches in addition to constant handling can increase the chances of getting hoglets to eat in a new home. Also, removing exercise wheels from the hedgehog’s cage during the first few days could possibly eliminate distractions for the hedgehog to focus on eating and drinking.

Fruits like green apples and pears could serve as appetite boosters thanks to their sweet taste which should speed up how long it takes before the new hedgehog starts eating from the designated food bowl.

Conclusion: Why is My Hedgehog Not Eating?

Several underlying reasons can lead to loss of appetite in hedgehogs including sudden changes in their diet and arrival in a new environment. Boredom from eating the same food and loneliness triggered by a lack of human interactions could also cause hedgehogs to lose interest in eating.

Besides, lack of access to drinking water, changes in the hedgehog’s temperature, and various infections can also cause appetite losses in hedgehogs.

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