Posted on: 2 February 2016Share
Hedgehogs can become dangerously overweight, just like people can. Here are four things hedgehog owners need to know about obesity.
How much should hedgehogs weigh?
Typical adult hedgehogs weigh between 350 and 450 grams (12 and 16 ounces). However, due to differing body types, hedgehogs can still be healthy outside of this range. The healthy weight range for hedgehogs is 220 to 1,000 grams (8 to 35 ounces), depending on their build. Your vet can help you identify the right weight for your pet.
What are the signs of obesity?
If your hedgehog is obese, it won't be able to roll itself into a ball anymore since its stomach fat will get in the way. When you pick up your hedgehog, you'll notice that it's body feels squishy, not firm like it should be. Obese hedgehogs also tend to walk different than normal-weight hedgehogs do; they sway as they walk and may drag their bodies on the ground.
The best way to identify weight gain in your hedgehog is to weigh them every day. Your pet's weight will vary slightly throughout the day due to food and water consumption, so make sure to always weigh them at the same time of day for consistency. If you notice a consistent upward trend, you'll know that your hedgehog is gaining weight and can deal with it before they get so large that they can't roll anymore.
Why do hedgehogs become obese?
Hedgehogs become obese for the same reasons that people do: eating too much and not getting enough exercise. Medical conditions like metabolic disorders can also play a role in your pet's weight gain.
Fortunately, you can control these factors. Ensure that your hedgehog's cage is big enough for them to run around and play and let them out of their cage regularly for floor time. Feed your hedgehog a limited portion of food daily instead of giving them unlimited food; contrary to popular belief, hedgehogs don't always stop eating when they're full and they can't be trusted to regulate their own food intake.
How can your vet help?
Your vet can examine your hedgehog to make sure there are no underlying medical problems responsible for their obesity. If no problems are found, diet and exercise will be the only treatment your pet needs. If you're not sure what types of food are healthy for hedgehogs, or how much they need to eat, your vet can recommend a diet plan.
If you think your hedgehog is obese, take them to an animal clinic to learn more about your options.