This post is because I am generally wary of commercial animal food and I am in a position where I have the support and funds to join those pet owners and professionals who are exploring more species-appropriate diet. This post is not to make those comfortable feeding a cat-food based diet to feel uncomfortable and is not a criticism; I am gathering my thoughts and I’m currently following a cat-biscuit based diet while my hedgehog settles in.
There are many ways to feed an animal and the choice I make might not be right for you. And that’s okay =)
In 1990 white bellied hedgehogs were imported into the US pet trade from Nigeria en-masse which later triggered the 1994 African Pygmy Hedgehog pet boom. [Research originally from Hedgehogs of Asgard here: The African Pygmy Hedgehog Hybrid or Not?]. Twenty-odd (at the time of writing) years is not long enough for us to really know on what food our beloved pets will thrive on, especially given the limited research available on hedgehogs. Hedgehog diets and what is best to feed them is always evolving, and moving away from a cat-biscuit base which takes inspiration from wildlife rescues rehabilitating wild European hedgehogs who need to gain weight fast to be released in a short space of time.
We have kept exotic animals for over eight centuries, their care originally verging on cruel through our sheer lack of understanding (A History of Exotic Animals in the UK – Guardian Article) of their dietary and behavioural needs. Thankfully through time and legislation how we care for animals evolves, just look at the BARF diet and how raw feeding for cats and dogs has taken off and become commercialised over the past years. I feel like I have chosen to have a pet hedgehog as understanding of their dietary requirements is evolving. Which means finding people who want to stay safe in the status-quo which is working, and hearing ideas from those who think we can do more and we can do better and aren’t afraid to try.
I already feed my cat a complete frozen (thawed for serving) raw diet, and I’m in the privileged position of having enough support and spare cash to do the same with what my hedgehog eats and how she lives. Progress will be gentle
Current sources of inspiration for a non-cat biscuit based diet for my hedgehog are:
Basic and Care Guide Described Diets
- Closed Facebook Group “Jaggy Babies” Files Section (also includes introduction of raw feeding)
Raw diet feeders who combine blended BARF principals with the inclusion of feeding ‘Veg Chop’, including the result of bloodwork
- What goes into the bug goes into the hog! https://www.keepinginsects.com/general-care/live-food/
This is my inspiration and my thoughts. I’m still reading, learning and calculating and hope to update as I learn more and as my hedgehog grows.
To be continued…