Most owners love to feed their hedgehogs, and yes, the hedgehogs love the food! But with like any other pets, you need to be careful with what you exactly feed them. While your hedgehogs may be happy to chow down almost anything seemingly tasty, some treats may prove to be bad for their health or even outright fatal. In this post, you’ll learn all about what hedgehogs shouldn’t eat. Also, we’ll take the time to go over the main things they should be eating.
Attention! These recommendations are based on African Pygmy Hedgehogs, hands down the most popular hedgehog species at homes all around the world. If you have a very exotic hedgehog as a pet, then seek help from a veterinary or an animal nutrition expert. For example, some common diseases in hedgehog.
What can hedgehogs not eat?
This is a shortlist of the foods hedgehogs definitely can’t eat.
- Allium vegetables (onion, garlic, etc)
- Citrus fruits
- Grapes and raisins
- Insects bought from fishing shops or found from the wild
- Meat (canned, fried, processed, raw, or seasoned)
- Milk and dairy products
- Nuts and seeds
Later in this post, we’ll go more into detail why these food items aren’t suitable for hedgehogs. At first, we’ll take a look at what the hedgehogs eat in the wild and what your pet hedgehogs should be eating on a daily basis. Also, never forget that although hedgehogs are wild animals, the domesticated ones are a bit different from their wild counterparts. Not every food that passes for the wild animals will be fine for your hedgie back home.
What do wild hedgehogs eat?
In order to know where your pet hedgehog’s roots are in terms of food consumption, let’s take a look at what the hedgies eat when they don’t have an owner. By the way, hedgehogs get called opportunistic eaters. That means they eat whatever they can get their tiny claws on. Some species are even able to eat some pretty venomous creatures, such as scorpions and snakes. Scientists aren’t entirely sure whether they are immune to these venoms or their body just takes pretty good care of the toxins. In any case, it’s pretty astounding to think what kind of critters hedgehogs are capable of killing and consuming when you think about their diminutive size and seemingly harmless nature. Now, take a look at the list of what wild hedgehogs eat…
- Fruit and vegetables, in moderation
- Mice (babies)
- Regular worms
- Small animals
Domesticated hedgehogs need less food
As you can see, their diet is quite rich in energy and fat. Although, don’t get any ideas about your domesticated hedgehog. The energy consumption comparison of domesticated and wild hedgehogs is beyond doubt quite different. Namely, the hedgehogs living in the African wilderness need to put in a lot of work to get the food on the table. Opposed to that, domesticated hedgehogs don’t need all that effort in order to get the same amount of calories. Hence, it’s very easy for hedgehogs to get fat in domestic conditions. When you see the first signs of obesity in your hedgehog, then it’s time to quickly make adjustments in their diet. Better yet, try to feed them the appropriate amount of food in the first place to keep this problem at bay.
What could pet African Pygmy Hedgehogs eat?
Many hedgehog owner guides cite a peculiarly specific ratio of proteins to fats that are perfect for hedgehogs: 34% to 15%. At first glance, it might seem weird that it’s so specific, but you should really follow this recommendation. Nowadays, ready-made animal foods are engineered to be quite precise when it comes to their nutritional content. Now, let’s look at the main food items your African Pygmy Hedgehog could eat at home…
- Boiled eggs
- Dog food (high-grade)
- Dry cat food (high-grade)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Hedgehog food (high-grade)
- Lean meat
Attention! All of these food items come with notable exceptions. Please look at the list at the beginning of the post to see what are the important exceptions.
The foods hedgehogs can’t eat
As you could see from the list, there are quite many foods that hedgehogs should definitely not be eating. Now, we’ll go over them separately to see exactly what’s wrong with feeding them to your pet. Also, in case there’s information available, we’ll note exactly what might be the consequences. Remember, if you aren’t sure about the food you want your hedgehog to try, then consult with a veterinarian or a practicing scientist.
Allium vegetables (onion, garlic, etc)
All of the allium vegetables serve a great purpose in many cuisines all over the world. They make the food more delicious or provide a nice zing that regular vegetables just can’t do. But these aren’t good for hedgehogs. Similarly to dogs and cats, consuming garlic and onions could become greatly toxic to the four-legged family members.
Many sources state that avocados are toxic to hedgehogs. Don’t listen to random YouTube video or blog advice that says eating avocados is fine for hedgies. In the end, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to avoiding food potentially toxic to your pets.
Caffeine and theobromine may be mood lifters and energy providers for humans, but they are definitely not nice for hedgehogs. Like dogs and cats, hedgehogs can’t stand chocolate because of quite a few compounds inside the chocolate act as toxic substances in their bodies. Plus, even if chocolate didn’t contain these substances, it’s still loaded with sugar and fat. Not a good fit for a small animal that has a hard time burning off all the consumed calories.
Oranges, lemons, limes, and other members of the citrus fruit family shouldn’t be given to hedgehogs. They are acidic and will definitely upset your pet’s stomach. Also, the same goes for any juice pressed from citrus fruits, regardless of being fresh or concentrated.
Grapes and raisins
Both grapes and raisins are reported to be highly toxic to hedgehogs. You shouldn’t feed these fruits to your hedgie in any form. Also, the same holds true for grape juice and wine. Furthermore, you should never even give a tiny sip of any alcohol to your hedgehog. It’s a poison for them.
Insects bought from fishing shops or found from the wild
Yes, hedgehogs love insects. But you have to avoid the ones bought from bait shops or found from your home garden. Namely, these insects might host disease-causing bacteria and parasites while being full of certain toxins as well. Consequently, canned or freeze-dried insects make for a much safer choice.
Meat (canned, fried, processed, raw, or seasoned)
The meat has to be lean and cooked. You could perfectly well give your hedgie lean chicken, turkey, lamb, and beef. Just be sure that you don’t use any spices, sauces, or other seasonings when cooking the meat. Also, you shouldn’t use any oil. Minced meat is the easiest way for the hedgehog to consume it.
Milk and dairy products
All hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. They can’t digest milk sugar. Giving them milk and dairy products results in diarrhea, or worse.
Most guides recommend against feeding mushrooms to your hedgehogs. While some of the mushrooms in the wild might be fine, there’s no comprehensive and adequate understanding about which particular mushrooms are suitable for pet hedgehogs to eat.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts, seeds, and raisins are dangerous things to feed your hedgehog with. First, hedgehogs can’t properly digest all the nuts and seeds. Also, the small bits and pieces prove to be a huge choking hazard. Steer clear of these food items!
Starchy vegetables are a bad choice because your hedgehog can’t properly digest these foods. As a result, they will get an upset stomach and digestive issues.
There are two reasons why you shouldn’t give pineapple to your hedgehogs. High acid content makes them upset your hedgie’s stomach. Furthermore, the high sugar content contributes to increased obesity risk. While it’s true that some hedgehog owners feed pineapple in small pieces and nothing bad happens, it doesn’t say anything about your hedgehog’s potential reaction to pineapple.
The bottom line: what can hedgehogs not eat?
Hedgehogs can’t eat highly acidic foods like citrus fruits and pineapples. They can’t consume milk and dairy products because they are lactose intolerant. Some of the foods may just be toxic to them, such as avocados and chocolate. Also, feeding insects bought from the bait shop or found in the wild may harbor bacteria, parasites, and viruses potentially fatal to your hedgehog. Finally, all the allium part of the vegetable family irritate the hedgies’ stomachs and cause digestive issues.