Updated Oct. 12, 2021
In the wild Western Hognoses have been documented eating everything from small birds, bird eggs, toads, frogs, lizards, tadpoles, mice, and even roadkill! Western Hognoses are opportunistic feeders, which means when they spot prey they don't think twice because the next couple of weeks/months may not yield any successful hunts. This lifestyle often leads to a feast or famine type of diet, which tends to follow the seasonal prey availability and their preys' life cycles. Many wild Western Hognoses simply do not make it long in the wild for many reasons, natural selection has a hand in removing picky eaters.
So, with all this variety one would think it would be a great idea to vary up a hog's diet, oddly enough this is not at all advised. Breeders such as ourselves spend a LOT of time patiently weaning baby Western Hognoses onto frozenthawed, non scented pinky mice. Mice are the prey of choice as they are nutritionally balanced (dusted once a month with reptile calcium with added vitamin D) and readily accessible.
how does weaning work?
First, we offer a non-scented frozen-thawed pinky mouse. Many babies won’t take this as their first meal. We then wait several days to a week to try again but this time we dip the mouse into a scent since baby hognoses often like stinky food. We have a very extensive list of scents we try, ranging from sardines to Vienna juice. Some babies will want one kind of scent while their siblings might demand another. Gradually we scent the prey item less and less until we get 10 consecutive meals of frozen-thawed, non-scented into the babies, then they are posted as available and ready for their deposits. By holding the babies back and ensuring they get those extra meals better establishes them as solid eaters. This whole process can take anywhere from a couple of months to half a year!
please no treats!
Western Hognoses as we explain above can be picky brats. When folks offer a treat there is a high chance of the Western Hognose wanting only that treat item, which is likely not nutritionally balanced, or readily available. Worse yet, this bratty behaviour can lead to the Western Hognose refusing to eat altogether and may require to be re-weaned. This can be a frustrating and time-consuming endeavour. All in all, it simply is not worth a “treat.”
Have an uneating hog?
Shoot I found this information after the fact, my hog won't eat now what, no worries we have you covered! We have a section on our website under the “Care Information” heading titled “Western Hognose Eating Issues” I wrote up an article filled with tips to help folks with non-eating Western Hognoses. Feel free to go check out that article.