Hedgehogs love to eat. In fact, they spend a lot of time each night just looking for food in the wild. Still, not all food is equal. Some food sources are better than others. And there are food items entirely unsuitable for hedgehogs. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what vegetables hedgehogs actually eat.
What vegetables do hedgehogs eat?
Take a look at the following list of vegetables that hedgehogs eat. You can give them in very small amounts. Vegetables primarily serve as snacks for hedgehogs. This food group isn’t the most important part of their diet. Also, most of these foods are usually given in a cooked form.
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Green pepper
- Lettuce (Romaine)
- Sweet potato
Are there any vegetables hedgehogs don’t eat?
Definitely! In the following list, you can have a look at the most common vegetables that aren’t suitable for hedgehogs. Do note that this list isn’t comprehensive enough to cover all the unsuitable veggies. That’s why you should consult your vet, a hedgehog owner’s manual, or online search engine to check about a particular less-known vegetable. Although, there’s a higher chance that it’s not good for your hedgie if it’s something very exotic. The chances are that your hedgie’s body isn’t used to the more unique nutritional structure of the vegetable.
Why don’t they eat these vegetables?
First of all, we have the allium vegetables like onion and garlic. While these foods taste delicious to humans, hedgies might get a serious poisoning after eating these veggies. Actually, there are quite many members of the allium family, so you should always check that you don’t give other similar veggies to your hedgehog as well. For example, bear’s garlic is another culprit that shouldn’t be given to hedgies.
Most hedgehog experts agree that avocados are toxic to hedgehogs. You might stumble upon random information on the Internet stating the opposite. Better to rely on authoritative sources! Mushrooms are off-limits because there isn’t enough information available on which mushrooms are suitable for hedgehogs and which ones might prove to be toxic. Scientists do know that wild hedgehogs forage mushrooms. But there isn’t any list of mushrooms that are okay for their tummies.
So, what’s so bad about tomatoes and potatoes? Well, the underlying reasons differ. Potatoes are starchy, which means that your hedgie can’t properly digest them. As a result, they’ll experience digestive problems that could lead to gastrointestinal disease in the long run. And tomatoes aren’t a natural source of energy for any hedgehogs in the world. Their stomach isn’t prepared for the nutritional makeup of these vegetables. Tomatoes are toxic to hedgehogs. Plus, the acidity of tomatoes is too great, anyway.
But what about wild hedgehogs?
You may be wondering whether wild hedgehogs eat vegetables. The short answer? Not that much! Hedgehogs earned the title of opportunistic eaters. This means that they are eating a wide variety of food sources in the wilderness. For example, they eat earthworms, slugs, snails, caterpillars, and baby mice. Sometimes, they encounter some wild fruits and vegetables that they’ll happily eat. Still, as you can understand, their daily menu outside of captivity isn’t full of vegetables. This is the main reason we recommend to use vegetables only for snacks and treats.
What else do hedgehogs eat?
Vegetables don’t even belong to the group of main food options. Now, we talk about hedgehogs in captivity. They should mostly eat hedgehog food, dry cat food, lean meat, and insects. But the answer isn’t as easy as that. There are always exceptions. The lean meat can’t be canned, fried, processed, raw, or seasoned. The insects shouldn’t be bought from a fishing shop or collected from the wilderness. Also, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding the ready-made pet meals. Some owners are adamant about the suitability of high-quality dog food. They think it’s a daily option for hedgies. Others are against this. They say that the kibble is too big. Also, the dog food’s nutritional content doesn’t match the hedgies’ needs.
What are foods hedgehogs clearly shouldn’t eat?
We already covered the vegetables that hedgies should steer clear of. Let’s take a quick look at the foods that should be absolutely banned from your hedgehog’s food bowl. Most people think about chocolate as a divine food. But it’s absolutely toxic to hedgehogs. Never feed them chocolate or anything containing it! Citrus fruits are another no-no. They are highly acidic. Your hedgie’s stomach will get upset, there’s no doubt about it.
Milk and dairy products? Keep them away! Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. In other words, they are unable to digest milk sugars called lactose. When they accidentally ingest milk, they could develop a bad case of diarrhea. Nuts and seeds are bad for two reasons: indigestibility and choking hazard. You are better off not taking any chances with these foods.
Fresh grapes are toxic. And raisins or other dried fruit aren’t any better. Avoid them at all costs the same way you’d never give alcohol or any other clearly toxic substances to your beloved hedgehog. Your spiky friend doesn’t like pineapple, too. It has a very high sugar content, raising the risk of obesity. And pineapples carry high levels of acidity. All of this acid makes your hedgehog’s stomach upset, resulting in diarrhea or even something worse. Don’t take any chances with the foods listed in this paragraph. And when in doubt about any particular food item not mentioned here? Do your research or consult an exotic pet veterinarian.
Anyway, are vegetables the most important part of a hedgehog’s diet?
No, vegetables are nowhere near the most important part of hedgies’ food pyramid. Some scientists classify hedgehogs as insectivores, others deem them to be omnivores. But these creatures definitely aren’t vegetarians. Vegetables don’t hold the greatest importance in their diets. Instead, the most important part of their meal plan is high-quality protein. This protein is essential for keeping them disease-free and happy. Not getting enough of protein and carbs raises the risk of health issues. Some of these issues could turn chronic.
What happens if they don’t eat vegetables?
Failure to eat vegetables won’t result in serious health effects. Still, it’s recommended to give some veggies as snacks. All the antioxidants, and partially the vitamins, can’t be bad for hedgies as well. But you always have to keep one thing in mind. The most important meal of the day isn’t vegan or even vegetarian. Most owners pick a poultry-based cat or hedgehog food. This covers most of the essential nutrition needs.
Is it possible to overfeed vegetables to your hedgehog?
Yes, it’s entirely possible to give too many veggies to your hedgehog. As we outlined before, hedgehogs need high-quality protein that’s ideally based on poultry. That’s why good cat foods will do the trick. Avoid starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes. Their stomachs aren’t the best at handling this type of veggies. If you’d feed starchy veggies, then it would be really easy to quickly overfeed them.
Still, the same logic applies to other vegetables. The smartest thing is to only give vegetables as treats or casual snacks. This way, you’ll base the hedgie’s diet on the most important staples while lowering the risk of feeding too many vegetables. Be especially careful with peas! The calcium and phosphorus levels could easily unbalance when hedgehogs eat too many peas (or corn, for that matter).
In the same fashion, it’s possible to overfeed your hedgehog with fruits as well. Give your hedgehog too many fruits and you could see some negative results. First, your hedgie could develop diarrhea because you have them too many fruit snacks. But the second danger takes a bit more time to manifest. Regularly eating too many fruits allows your hedgehog to consume many extra calories. All that surplus energy stored as fat. Results?Obesity that significantly lowers the quality of life. Furthermore, it puts their health in direct danger.
Are there any dangers in feeding the wrong vegetables?
Yes, the dangers range from discomfort to life-threatening emergencies. Give your hedgie onions and garlic? They could get an upset stomach. Maybe diarrhea and cramps. But letting them eat wild mushrooms could result in death. There is no definite list of mushrooms that pet hedgehogs can eat without encountering any trouble. They are known to eat some mushrooms in the wild, yet we have no clue of the exact mushroom types suitable for their stomach.
What else should I know about giving vegetables to my hedgie?
When we say ‘vegetable hedgehogs don’t eat’, then we don’t mean it literally. As an owner, you could easily give your hedgehog vegetables that wouldn’t be suitable for them. Hedgies can be quite ferocious eaters, and sometimes it’s hard for them to discriminate between food that’s good or bad for them. Especially, when they trust the owner, then the hedgies could bite into all sorts of bad stuff. For example, how could they know that chocolate could kill them? That’s why it’s important for you as an owner to understand the difference. There are beneficial and harmful vegetables. Also, you need to keep in mind that vegetables aren’t their main source of food.
So, what vegetables do hedgehogs eat?
Hedgehogs eat a variety of vegetables, including carrots, spinach, and broccoli. At the same time, there are vegetables out there that could harm hedgehogs’ health. For example, onions, garlic, and celery aren’t good for hedgies. Moreover, hedgehogs’ primary source of food isn’t vegetables and fruits. They are omnivorous and opportunistic eaters in the wild. Hence, hedgehogs need a steady and balanced diet. Enough protein sources are essential. Ideally, the protein comes mainly from poultry. When you give vegetables to your hedgehog, prefer to feed them cooked vegetables that have been properly diced. This makes eating them easier.