With spring just round the corner it won’t be long until you are thinking of putting food out for hedgehogs. With recent research in mind we want to reiterate what is good and bad for hedgehogs. Bread and milk still remain a big NO! We would advise feeding any specific hedgehog foods such as Spikes (http://www.spikesworld.co.uk/spikes_hedgehog_food.html) or Ark Wildlife (https://www.arkwildlife.co.uk/Item/Wildlife_Foods~Hedgehog_Foods/AHFO/Ark_Hedgehog_Food_Original.html). You can also feed dry cat biscuits and tinned cat or dog food (they can be fussy with fish flavours). Don’t forget to also provide a shallow dish of water too.
We DO NOT recommend feeding dried meal worms to hedgehogs, they contain almost no nutritional value and can harm their health. These x-rays show the potential effects of feeding large quantities of mealworms. The first x-ray, above, showing the entire hedgehog has severe metabolic bone disease. This individual could not walk, only shuffle forwards. In her x-ray the bones are not bright white as they should be in a healthy hedgehog as shown in the second picture (to the left). This is because the calcium in her bones has been drawn out into her bloodstream to counter the low levels caused by the high levels of phosphate – a result of eating mainly meal worms. The decalcification of bones increases the likelihood of fractures and reduces the ability to weight bare and move. At the severity shown in the first x-ray it was not reversible, in early far less severe cases it can be treated but only if it is picked up early enough.
Vale wildlife’s vet has created a great video explaining metabolic bone diseases in hedgehogs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZ7Y3a4vgqU