Most Common Obese Exotic Pets: No. 2 Hedgehogs
Species of all kinds suffer from being fat, and as an exotic animal veterinarian, I constantly tell my patients’ owners to increase their pets’ exercise and limit their junk food consumption. This week, we’re taking a look at the top five species I treat for obesity in an effort to get everyone off to a healthier start in the New Year.
No. 2 on my list for the battle of bulge are hedgehogs!
Although hedgehogs are insectivores and are not at all related to the pigs we commonly call hogs that eat everything in sight, many captive hedgehogs actually behave like little piggies and eat until they become obese. Here’s how these added pounds affect our prickly little friends.
Hefty Isn’t Helpful If You’re a Hedgehog
These little prickly balls of energy generally love to run all night on exercise wheels. But they can become so obese if they are fed inappropriate, high-fat foods (such as excess amounts of carbohydrate- and fat-enriched pellets) that they become too big to fit into their wheels and too short of breath to run. Well-meaning owners often leave heaping bowls of pelleted food in their hedgehogs’ cages and confine them to small spaces where they have little opportunity to move around. Hedgehogs are also well known for their acrobatic ability of being able to contract their back muscles to roll up tightly into a ball, so that they can hide and protect themselves from predators. However, just as overweight people often have difficulty accomplishing certain physical activities because of their added weight, so do hedgehogs. Captive hedgehogs may get so fat, they are no longer able to perform the signature hedgehog move of curling up into a tight little ball. They also tend to develop arthritis in their short, stumpy legs that must support overly heavy bodies.
Hedgehog owners can help prevent weight gain in their pets by feeding these nocturnal insectivores a balanced diet of a limited amount of pellets and insects, such as mealworms and crickets. Hedgehogs should also be taken out of their cages daily to run around the floor and encouraged to run actively in their wheels late at night. Once a hedgehog is obese, it can be hard to get him to lose weight. So prevention of obesity is a much better option for these adorable pets. If your prickly friend is already a bit porky, just remember to always consult with your veterinarian first before starting a diet or exercise program to make sure you know how to help your pet lose weight safely.
Importance of Hydration in Westchester County, NY
With summer temperatures approaching, water is especially essential to your pet’s health. Hydration is needed to regulate…
Why Calcium is Important for Your Reptile in Westchester, NY
Providing a complete and balanced diet is essential when you are keeping any pet. When it comes…
The Importance of Microchipping Your Pet in Westchester County, NY
Do you travel with your bird or other exotic pet? Do you take him or her outside?…
Rabbit Dos and Dont’s in Westchester County, NY
Whether you’re a new rabbit owner or an experienced one, all rabbit owners should know what your…
Why You Should Get an Exotic Pet
Birds and other exotic pets are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. While most households…
About Veterinary Centers for Birds and Exotics
If you have been looking for specialized care for your bird or exotic pet, look no further! We have you covered. At our unique animal hospital, we provide care to birds and exotics ONLY—no cats and dogs! We are the only bird and exotic veterinary hospital with a full-time, board certified bird specialist, Dr. Laurie Hess. Dr. Hess, who, with her two associates, Dr. Amanda Marino and Dr. Amanda Dewey, are the only full-time veterinarians in Westchester County who are residency-trained in bird and exotic medicine and surgery. Call to schedule an appointment for your pet!