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Henry's Healthy Blocks are formulated based on the Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals (NRLA, Fourth Revised Edition, 1995. National Research Council. National Academy Press: Washington, DC) for each specific animal. We consider the animal's natural diet, as well as the ingredients found in the best quality pet foods available. Of course we replace high-carb or low-quality ingredients with better ingredients. Finally, Henry's Blocks are shipped freshly baked and then stored refrigerated to ensure optimum nutrient content.
Since there is no research on the specific dietary requirements of squirrels, the rat nutrient profile was used because rats are the closest relative for which this research exists. Various squirrel species have been fed commercial rodent blocks in rehabbing and zoo settings for many years, which suggests that the nutrient requirements are fairly close. Henry's Healthy Blocks are simply a healthier alternative to commercial rodent blocks. They are complete for all essential nutrients: fat, protein (including the full spectrum of amino acids), vitamins, and minerals. The formulation was also reviewed by a panel of experts in zoo science and animal nutrition.
Most squirrels won't eat commercial rat blocks unless they are introduced shortly after weaning; and sometimes not even then! Most rodent blocks have a fishy smell, so perhaps that's part of it. Henry's Healthy Blocks are nut-based so they have a taste squirrels like, and they contain no meat products, fish meal, or other "yucky" ingredients. That being said, squirrels are notoriously picky eaters, so sometimes it takes time to get them used to a new food. Try them for 2 weeks, follow the feeding instructions carefully, and if your pet still won't eat them, we'll refund your money.
Nibbling is good! Rodents are big nibblers, and rarely finish a piece of food. Although most pets love the blocks right away, others may reject the new food. If your pet is a picky eater, like most squirrels and flyers....try eliminating all extra nuts for two weeks. Squirrels don't need extra nuts for nutrition, and feeding nuts leads to picky eating behavior and can even cause aggression. Remember, wild squirrels only get to eat nuts once a year--not every day! It's very important to follow the feeding instructions. These techniques work! If you follow these instructions, we're confident your pet will learn to love Henry's Healthy Blocks.
Even the highest-calcium veggies only contain small amounts of usable calcium; not nearly enough to provide the 1,600 mgs of calcium per week your squirrel needs! The problem with dusting food with calcium, putting vitamin drops in water, and so on is that you never know how much your pet is getting: too much? not enough? A diet of nuts, seeds, and veggies is lacking in calcium and too high in phosphorus, which can lead to metabolic bone disease (MBD). It's also deficient in B vitamins, vitamin D, and other important nutrients. Worse, this diet contains almost no protein, which can cause dull, sparse, or patchy fur, and interfere with calcium absorption.
We hear this a lot. Some pets will eat Henry's Healthy Blocks ravenously at first. Your pet is probably making up for some kind of nutritional deficiency; however, after a few weeks, you should cut him down to 2-3 blocks per day. The blocks are more concentrated than other pet foods, and aren't meant to be fed in unlimited amounts.
The nutrition is the same, but the flyer blocks are "flyer sized." The precise nutrient requirements of flying squirrels (and other tree squirrels) are not known, so we can't be sure whether their dietary needs differ. However, flyers and other squirrel species have been fed commercial rodent blocks for many years successfully. Henry's Healthy Blocks are simply a healthier alternative to commercial rodent blocks, especially for pets that won't eat store-bought blocks.
Most commercial pet foods are meant to be fed as 80-100% of the diet. Therefore, if the pet food contains 20% fat and 14% protein, your pet's diet will be 20% fat and 14% protein. Henry's Healthy Blocks are a supplement designed to be fed along with a variety of fresh foods. Henry's Healthy Blocks provide a nutritional base for your pet, ensuring he gets the minimum requirements of all the important nutrients--especially protein, vitamin D, B vitamins, calcium, and other minerals. That's why on our label, the amount of each nutrient is given as a percentage of the minimum requirement for that nutrient; not as a percentage of the whole diet.