This guide is written based on the German BARF guide of Nadine Ohm, with her full permission. She’s not a nutritionist, but has based the information on contacts with breeders, own research on the life of hedgehogs, conversations with nutritionists of carnivores, years of raw dog and cat feeding and the associated understanding of demand quantities and mode of action as well as nutrient salaries of different meats.
Bear in mind, there is no research towards the exact needs of pet hedgehogs, therefore it’s adviced to always have a bowl of kibbles accesable for the hedgehogs to prevent any deficiencies.
Based on the digestive tract and the physique of hedgehogs, it can be concluded that they mainly feed on invertebrates (grasshoppers, larvae, beetles, moths, bees, snails, crickets, etc.) and small vertebrates such as mice or birds, including eggs and carrion. Their teeth, for example, are built up minly like those of a carnivore, which lets them emerge from the group of insecteaters. They have no small intestine, which shows that plant matter is difficut to digest. The enzymes to split plant fibers and absorb nutrients from them are completely missing. Hedgehogs kill and eat their prey immediately and by themselves. They need all of their nutritions in one single meal.
The following composition is just a guideline, you can tweak it accordingly to what suits your hedgehog best. Due to nursing, health issues, allergies and other causes, some hedgehogs might need a slightly adjusted diet. All additives are designed for 1 kilo of food.
In addition to one kilo of meat mixture, you can add:
Sodium and iron are found plenty in blood. With the amount of blood listed, you can rest assured that the need for these additives are completely covered. When feeding high-iron or high-sodium meats/additives, you can use less than listed.
Only if you don’t use blood at all and don’t feed high-sodium meat/additives as too much sodium can cause a lot of issues. You can also use spleen as a sodium source. But if you can’t get your hands on a good sodium source, you can use 2 small knifepoints of salt on 1 kilo of meat to cover the sodium content.
The natural prey of hedgehogs have a low content of iodine. For this reason, they need 4-6 micrograms per meal to cover their need for this. Iodine is a very important additive. If you have no or too little of a coverage, hyperthyroidism can become a threat. But a too high coverage can result in chronic hypothyroidism. Iodine tehre fore is not something to mess around with and has to be taken seriously. Luckily, you can easily dose this with using fish supplement, see recipes. (Seaweed Lunderland: 420g iodine/kilo = 0.5gram of seaweed)
Visual activity is very important to hedgehogs as they live at night. Taurine helps with this and a deficiency can cause visual impairment as well as infertility, heart filures and malformations of fetuses. Taurine also important for the nerve function and the developement of those in fetuses. Taurine is generally for the nerve function important. The minimum taurine coverage in 1 kilo of food would be 2000-2500mg. You cannot overdose taurine as it will be excreted in the urine. Mice as well as organ meat (especially heart) are good taurine sources.
Omega 3 & 6
Cattle meat has a high content of omega 6 and are a good source to feed. Unfortunately, carnivores are not able to convert it into Omega 3 which is also needed. Because of this, fish is a lot more useful as they contain Omega 3 already without needing to convert it. One of the easy ways to give it to your hedgehog are salmon oil capsules or liquid salmon oil. The ratio of both Omega and Omega 6 is about 5:1 (Omega 6 : Omega 3). The capsules can differ in ratio, but most liquid salmon oils are about the same. It’s adviced to give 0.2 to 0.3 ml per kilo of bodyweight per meal (A hedgehog of 400 grams will need: 0.25 x 0,4 x 1000 = 100ml per kilo of meat). When giving salmon oil also pay a bit of attention to the Vitamin E.
This vitamine occurs mainly in plant extracts, which are not easily digested by hedgehogs. Digested food content from feeder mice are easy to solve this issue, but is also easily overdosed. Vitamin E does not gt extracted, but will be stored away as fat, and cause a hedgehog to gain a massive amount of weight. A hedgehog needs about 1mg a day of Vitamin E, which is easily covered in salmon oil.
This vitamin is also stored away as fat when the hedgehog has been given too much. With a need of just 0.05mg a day, overdosing is very easily done. The salmon oil willcover this need as well. This is the main reason why feeding fish on a regular basis is not recommended, aside from making their stools smell. However, a little pece of fish from time to time won’t hurt them in any way!
Vitamin H is very important for a hedgehog’s growth, maintancence of the skin, fur, quills and claws. It’s also important to be able to pick up Vitamin C from the bowel walls. Biotin cannot be overdosed as it dissolves in water and will be excreted by the urine. The best source for biotin is raw egg yolk. When heated, the biotin will evaporate and disappear. Egg white however can best be heated, because is contains avidin which sticks to the biotin and disabled the possibility of it being properly digested. Therefore, when giving a raw egg, it’s adviced to split the yolk from the eggwhite nad only feed the egg yolk. Other good biotin sourches is organ meat like liver and kidneys.
The basic structure
For the young & nursing hedgehog
For dry skin
15-20 grams of the meat mix is fed a day (depending on activity). In addition, insects and snails are served. A meal can thus look like this:
Once a week 1 / 3-1 / 2 (raw) egg yolk over the food for the biotin household Once a week there are baby mice or chicks here instead of the meat mix. There were chicks falling in yolk from this week (Yolk sac at the chick).
Treats are the normal food for us. For this reason, I use fat at 8%. So I have There is also room to give a mealworm extra. Another recipe for example: 200gr of liver (puree) to an egg and oat bran (or potato flour) to a tough dough arises. Spread on the baking sheet and allow to dry for about 1 hour at 80 degrees. Or: 200 grams of minced meat with about 100 grams of mealworms (I froze them beforehand and puree then briefly) Mix. Shape into the smallest balls and bake at 100 degrees for about 20 minutes. You can let your creativity run wild.
When you’re not sure wher eto buy this all, we can help you look in the right directions. Bear in mind to always buy food-grade products, as some products are also used for other purposes.
|Salmon oil||Capsules: Most drugstores & pharmacies
Liquid oils: Most drugstores & pet shops (also webshops)
|Brewer’s yeast||Most drugstores|
|Seaweed powder||Most online pet shops (dog or cat supplements) and organic beauty shops|
|Meat, blood, organs, bones||Most butcher shops, local hunter, webshop, some petshops|