6 tips for feeding hedgehogs 0 88

How to feed hedgehogs

When looked after properly, hedgehogs can make great pets. But if you’ve decided to start feeding the hedgehogs in your garden, there are a few things you should know.

1. Commit to feeding hedgehogs

If you’re lucky enough to have hedgehogs in your garden, this isn’t a very common occurrence! They are sadly endangered, so it’s especially important that, if they get used to finding a food source in your garden, it doesn’t get cut off.

2. Get to know a hedgehog’s diet

In the wild, hedgehogs are insectivores. Over 70% of their natural diet will be insects and beetles, some worms and the occasional slug or snail. Brush up on your hedgehog facts, so you know what to feed them and what to avoid. Which brings us on to our next point…

3. Know what to avoid when feeding hedgehogs

It’s very important to avoid bread and milk. Hedgehogs cannot digest bread, and cow’s milk will give them very bad diarrhoea. This can even be a cause of death, so we can’t stress that one enough.

Salty foods like bacon and corned beef will also give them health issues, so stay away from those.

While raisins and sultanas are generally bad for hedgehogs on account of the sugar content, one or two that have dropped from a bird table won’t do any harm. Just don’t make a point to feed them sugary foods like this.

4. Put out the right hedgehog food

Hedgehogs love:

• Spike’s Dinner hedgehog food. You can serve either the tinned or dry versions, and will find them in large pet shops.
• Ark Wildlife Hedgehog food
• Wildthings Hedgehog food
• Tinned cat, dog, puppy or kitten food. If you choose the chicken flavour, you’ll be popular!
• Meat flavoured biscuits for cats and kittens. Cheaper brands tend to have a higher density of cereal and aren’t quite so nutritious.

5. Share your leftovers (but only some)

Leftover meat like chicken or mince will go down a treat with a garden hedgehog. Chop the meat into very small pieces, as their teeth are too small to tear big pieces.

You can also put down some grated cheese for them, but nothing fancy: just mild or medium cheddar.

6. Know the difference between a winter feed and a summer feed

If you’re feeding tinned meat to your hedgehog, it’ll freeze quickly on a winter’s night. Biscuits are better for wintertime, and when the sun comes out, you can go back to feeding them tinned foods.

Find out more about hedgehogs, including whether a hedgehog is the right pet for you.

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5 things to consider before getting Pygmy goats 0 92

If you are considering getting a new pet then Pygmy goats are a great way to go. These fun-loving, friendly, easy to manage animals are perfect for anyone with a good sized garden looking for something different.

1. You need to have more than one

All goats are herd animals, so if you want to keep them you need to buy at least two. With herd mentality it would also be wise to buy two from the same herd at the same time, otherwise you are giving yourself a lot more work trying to acclimatise them to each other. If you don’t want to breed, you need to buy female goats or castrated males.

2. They do have some environmental needs

Though not demanding, Pygmy goats do have some needs. Their coats aren’t waterproof so they will need shelter. For two or three goats a normal garden shed measuring approximately 8 foot by 10 foot is enough, with a bench or two and some straw for a bed. They need good outdoor space and shouldn’t be tethered. Goats do tend to be adventurous so make sure the area is well fenced and definitely don’t have anything you don’t want to be ruined in the area! Be careful of any additional plants as well, there are a number of plants goats cannot eat, such as daffodils or tulips.

3. Their diet

About 80% of a goat’s diet needs to be dietary fibre, so hay is perfect. Beyond this, a couple of servings of goat mix a day will suffice. They can eat a few treats like chopped apples, but too many could cause stomach problems in at least one of their stomachs (goats have four!).

4. They need your company

Goats need to spend a lot of time with their owners, especially at the beginning, so make sure you have the time for them.

5. Watch them around children

Though every goat is different, their natures tend to be friendly, but not necessarily gentle in their playfulness, so beware of butting.

If you feel you have the space and time, you are guaranteed to have a lot of fun if you add Pygmy goats to your family.

Photo: Pygmy Goat by kimberlykv licensed under Creative commons 2

African pygmy hedgehogs as pets 0 71

One of the small pets that’s gaining popularity in the UK is the African pygmy hedgehog, which is an ideal choice for anyone who lives in an apartment or has limited available space. African pygmy hedgehogs have a cute appearance but are not really suitable as pets if there are small children in the home.

How to look after your African pygmy hedgehog

When you first introduce your hedgehog to the home you will need to spend several months taming it, so you will need to be patient and treat your hedgehog in a gentle manner.

Your hedgehog needs to eat a balanced diet, which can include dried cat mix, as this is high in protein, meat-based cat foods, cooked eggs, which can be boiled or scrambled, fresh fruits and vegetables. In the wild environment these hedgehogs survive by eating insects, so mealworms, crickets and silkworms should also be included in your pet’s regular feeding schedule.

African hedgehogs are solitary creatures in the wild, so your pet will not mind being kept on its own and will need a cage or rabbit hutch that is a minimum of 3ft x 1.5ft in size. Hedgehogs are not climbing animals, so you should avoid multi-level cages and ensure your pet cannot get its head stuck in the wire mesh on the sides of the cage. Wire mesh bases for cages should also be avoided as they could damage your hedgehog’s feet.

African pygmy hedgehogs need to be kept in a warm environment, so you will probably need to heat the cage to around 23°C to 24.4°C using a heat pad. As hedgehogs are nocturnal in nature, you should not expect too much activity during daylight hours and your pet should be allowed to sleep as much as needed. Ideally, you should add a nesting box to the cage to allow your hedgehog to retreat into a private space for sleep.

A hamster exercise wheel is an ideal playtime toy for your hedgehog’s cage and will provide hours of fun for your pet.

You can find out more about African pygmy hedgehogs and other unusual pets at nichepets.com.