Hedgehogs are fun pets to keep but you should know that these tiny little animals require a great deal of attention. Most people bring hedgehogs into their houses thinking that the animal doesn’t require a lot of effort and maintenance but that’s actually not true.
In fact, you should know that hedgehogs do require a lot of care and you will need to constantly keep the cage clean.
One of the things that you should know about this animal is that it likes to poop and eat a lot. The metabolism of a hedgehog is incredibly fast, and they digest and eat food at a rapid rate. Therefore, you always have to make sure that there is food in the hedgehog’s cage.
More importantly, you should know that these animals are quite volatile and can suffer from problems if they are not cared for properly. If you are going to bring a hedgehog in your house, you need to keep a lookout for differences in behavior and eating patterns as that could have a major impact on the animal’s longevity and overall well-being.
Now, when you bring a hedgehog home, you should know that it’s going to take a few days for the animal to adjust. When hedgehogs are stressed out, they are likely to eat less and poop more.
So, if you don’t clean out their cage on a daily basis, it won’t be long before everything turns a shade of brown. You have to make sure that you keep a sizable litter box in the corner too.
A very important cause for concern that you have to look out for is a sudden drop in the animal’s diet. This can happen due to a variety of reasons and it’s generally important for you to try and figure out the cause of the problem.
Hedgehogs might not eat due to a variety of reasons and you have to slowly figure this out and isolate the problem. Here are just some of the major reasons why a hedgehogmight stop eating and what you can do about it.
1 – Change in Routine or Environment
One of the main causes for a hedgehog not eating is a change in its routine or its environment. When you bring the animal into its new home, there is a strong chance that the animal will skip its first couple of meals.
This is fairly common and usually happens because the animal is still getting to grips with its new environment and routine.
In the beginning, the animal is just going to be too busy sleeping or running about exploring its new surroundings to pay attention to food. If you have a wheel in the cage, you will find the animal running on that wheel for long periods of time, which is why it may completely ignore the food.
Instead of fully decorating the cage and then bringing in the hedgehog, you should keep the wheel out. Wait a while and let the hedgehog acclimatize fully to its new surroundings. Once it starts eating and drinking in the cage, only then should you put the wheel in.
Furthermore, in order to reduce stress, you should make sure that the temperature inside is warm and the hedgehog is comfortable in its cage. If the animal is showing visible signs of distress and discomfort, you might want to consider moving it to another place.
You can also buy baby food designed for hedgehogs and feed it on the first few days when you bring it to your house. This food tastes very good and the hedgehog is going to have a great time eating the food.
More importantly, the food is quite dense and rich so even a little amount will be enough to get the hedgehog through the day.
2 – Change in Food
Another reason why the animal might stop eating is when you suddenly change its food. One of the best things that you can do is to make sure that the hedgehog remains on the same diet for at least a month. You need to make sure that the animal adjusts to its new home.
If you are going to introduce new foods in the animal’s diet, you should do it slowly. You need to slowly add the new food in the animal’s diet and then increase the ratio of the new food slowly with the old one. There is also a chance that the hedgehog might simply refuse the new food and not like it.
If you notice that the hedgehog isn’t eating, you might want to consider looking at the animal’s diet. If you have recently made any changes in the diet of the animal, you might want to revert back.
3 – Water Issues
When you are transitioning the animal and bringing it to another house, many breeders will tell you that bottled water or highly filtered water is the best choice. If your hedgehog doesn’t like the water, it’s not going to drink it.
For instance, you should know that there is a considerable difference in the taste of municipal water and well water.
On top of that, well water in different wells usually tastes different and the same goes for municipal water in different localities. You should know that some hedgehogs take a bit of time to adjust to new water bottles. Many breeders will tell you that instead of using a bottle, you should consider putting out a dish of water.
Water bottles are likely to get clogged and may get blocked over time. You might want to test the tip of the water bottle first to determine if the water flows freely. If your animal is severely dehydrated, it might stop eating.
There are several things that you can do in order to coax the animal to eat. For starters, feeding the animal a bit of watermelon juice, Gatorade, or just a bit of chicken broth with low sodium is a great idea.
4 – Illness
One of the most obvious reasons why the animal might stop eating is if it is suffering from an illness or a psychological issue. In many animals, the first sign of an illness is when the animal stops eating.
A loss of appetite usually occurs and if you notice that your hedgehog hasn’t eaten for a day or two, you might want to consider going to a vet right away.
There could be any number of problems ranging from constipation to intestinal blockage. The animal might also suffer from psychological issues caused by new changes in its environment.
For instance, if you have just changed the animal’s bedding or if there are exoskeletons of too many dried insects in the cage, it may cause problems.
If you have just kept a new foreign toy in the animal’s cage, that may cause a problem as well. If the vet says that there are no medical issues, the best thing to do is to take a look around the animal’s cage and see what has changed. Carpet fibers or other things in the cage may also prove to be signs of distress.
On the other hand, this is mostly likely to be a medical problem. It could be caused due to an infection or inflammation within the intestinal lining of the animal, which prevents it from eating. If the animal develops gum diseases or problems with its teeth, it’s likely to suffer from problems.
You might want to carefully look for broken or missing teeth. However, the best thing to do is to visit the vet and explain the condition of the animal. The vet will be able to administer emergency treatment and will tell you exactly what you need to do to fix the problem.
5 – Loneliness
This might come as a surprise to most people but animals such as hedgehogs can actually stop eating due to feeling overly sad or lonely.
Loneliness is a serious problem for these animals and they often like being fed by hand or through a syringe. Basically, these animals might want their humans around them in order to eat properly.
Think of it as a way that the hedgehog likes to attract attention. If you do not pay enough attention to the animal, there is always a risk that it will stop eating.
These are just some of the main causes for your hedgehog not eating and the steps that you need to take.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. I have a wife and two children and love taking them to the zoo to see all the animals. I grew up with dogs and fish and now have two dogs and two cats. I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.