Food Opinions

by Kelly Sosik-Hamor Disclaimer: Every person has their own preferred food mix, their own preferred bedding, etc. That being said, here is my opinion.

Before I knew better, I thought hedgehog food was the way to go. It's stamped Hedgehog, right? So it must be the best and most nutritious thing available, shouldn't it? WRONG!

So far, I've found the "Hedgehog" foods are packed with fillers. Corn, more corn, some oats for texture, some more corn, and maybe a hint of a bug or meat product (if you're lucky).

Avoid Vitacraft like the plague! One of the breeders I know has 2 necropsies from hedgehogs who died of malnutrition because they were fed nothing but Vitacraft. Vitacraft was developed as a snack for European hedgehogs, not as a diet staple for our African Pygmies. When the African Pygmies were imported to the US as pets, Vitacraft saw their cash cow and brought their formula over here. The only change they've ever made to it was to remove the peanuts that were getting stuck in the teeth of some hedgehogs.

My Personal experience with Pretty Pets goes something like this. The first time I encountered it, I was in a large pet store in Pennsylvania (taste the irony). We now live in Massachusetts, and were in PA to visit my family. Anyway, I was at the store buying everything under the sun, when I encountered "Pretty Pets Hedgehog Food". Since I didn't know any better; I jumped on the opportunity to pick up a 20 lb. bag.

I opened the bag to see pretty little flower shapes with a disgustingly sweet scent. My first impression was "Wow, it's like breakfast cereal for a 5 yr. old!" I mixed it with the brand of cat food I was using at the time and dumped it in my hedgehogs bowls. Well, I found Pretty Pets thrown all over the cages and still in the bowls. My regular food was gone, but the Pretty Pets was not well received. I continued this for about a month, but the hedgehogs just would not eat the Pretty Pets. After talking with a local breeder, I discovered that she didn't like Pretty Pets either, so I decided to get rid of it.

I have 4 cats, so my method of disposal was to mix the Pretty Pets in with the cats' usual food. It looks like cat food, and frankly my cats will eat anything, so why not? WRONG AGAIN! The cats refused to eat it...but I get the impression they enjoyed throwing it all over my pantry. So the game begins: I put it in the feeders, cats pick out and eat the other food and throw the Pretty Pets around my pantry, I salvage what I can and put it back into the feeders, Cats eat all the good stuff till only Pretty Pets is left thrown about my pantry, I shove it back in feeders, cats go on hunger strike till I remove the Pretty Pets and buy them real food.

So my hedgehogs wouldn't eat it, and my cats wouldn't eat it. Draw your own conclusions.

My experience with Briskys is limited. I've gotten it twice when rescues have come into Hamor Hollow, but I've never given it to my hedgehogs (nor will I ever). The first time I got it was when I did a hedgehog rescue in Maine and that's what they were eating, and the 2nd time I got it in a care package from the hedgehog Welfare Society. The hedgehogs will eat it because it has some garlic in it and they like the taste. Briskys looks like rabbit pellets and has a high concentration of fillers. My rabbit loves it.

So I avoid all foods that claim to be hedgehog foods and stick with high and medium quality cat foods. As far as what I use, I like Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul, Purina Kitten Chow, Purina One Healthy Weight, Fancy Feast Dry and others of equal quality. Avoid foods adding too may 'high quality' foods as a diet too high in protiene and other 'high quality' ingredientswill lead to fat and lasy hedgehogs.