Feeding your pygmy hedgehog a complete well-balanced diet is paramount for having a healthy hedgehog. Hedgehogs are omnivorous animals. As such hedgehogs eat a wide variety of foods (meats, cat and dog food, fruits and vegetables). However, there are several foods that hedgehogs should not eat and thus you should avoid them.
We have prepared this article to guide you on foods that hedgehogs should not eat.
List of foods that hedgehogs should not eat
Having a checklist of foods that hedgehogs cannot eat is essential to avoid a potential hazard. Here is a complete list of foods that hedgehogs should not eat. You should therefore avoid these foods when feeding your hedgehogs.
- Milk and dairy products
- Kitten food
- Allium vegetables (Onions and garlic)
- Raw, processed and fried meat
- Citrus fruits such as oranges
- Nuts and seeds
- Junk food
- Raw egg yolk or raw egg
- Spicy food
- Self-caught and bait-shop insects
Why should you avoid some foods with hedgehogs?
There are many reasons why hedgehogs should not eat several types of food. The first reason is because some food options contain too much vitamins and mineral supplements that are not necessary for hedgehogs. Some of these vitamins such as Vitamin A and minerals are difficult for hedgehogs’ bodies to eliminate and can potentially lead to liver toxicity.
The other reason is because some foods if given to hedgehogs can cause stomach problems. For example dairy products contain a lot of lactose. Since hedgehogs are lactose intolerant they develop stomach problems when fed on dairy products.
Additionally, other foods contain too much carbohydrates and fats. Pet hedgehogs do not exercise enough and should therefore not be fed on foods that contain a lot of calories as these can lead to obesity.
Other foods such as raisings, nuts and corns are choke hazards and could potentially choke your hedgehog.
Lastly, some foods such as raisins and chocolate among many others are toxic to hedgehogs and could kill your hedgehog. As such you should not feed your hedgehog on foods that are not safe for hedgehogs.
Individual foods and the reason why hedgehogs should not eat them
Milk and dairy products
All hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. The main sugar in dairy products such as yoghurt, condensed milk, ghee, fresh milk among many others is lactose. As such, hedgehogs should not be fed on dairy products or anything that contains milk as an ingredient.
Giving milk or any dairy product to your hedgehog will result in diarrhoea which if untreated can be fatal.
Kitten food is meant for kittens who are growing and thus have a high demand for energy. Generally, kitten food has a high fat and carbohydrate content to meet the needs of the growing kitten. Additionally, most kitten foods have milk as one of their ingredients.
Pet hedgehogs do not require a lot of energy unlike wild hedgehogs. If they consume too much calorific food they are prone to obesity. Therefore, hedgehogs should not eat kitten foods as it contains high calories and has milk as one of its ingredients.
Read our separate article on best cat food for hedgehogs to find out which cat food is favorable.
Allium vegetables (Onions and Garlic)
Allium vegetables such as onions and garlic contain a substance known as N-propyl disulfide that damages hemoglobin in the animal’s body. This prevents the normal transport of oxygen within the animal’s body.
These vegetables are toxic not only to hedgehogs but also other pets such as dogs and cats. You should therefore not feed your hedgehog on any allium vegetables.
Raw, canned, processed and fried meat
You can feed hedgehogs on cooked lean meat such as chicken or beef. However, when cooking ensure that you do not add any spices or oil to the meat. Preferably minced meat is the best to feed hedgehogs.
Avoid processed, canned or fried meat as they contain too much fat that can lead to obesity. Additionally, avoid raw meats as these have bacterial risks such as salmonellosis that can cause serious illness to hedgehogs.
Self-caught or bait-shop insects
When feeding insects to your hedgehog, we recommend you avoid using insects that you have caught yourself in the wild. You should also avoid insects bought from fishing bait shops.
These insects may have ingested foods that may be toxic to your hedgehog. Others may bring external parasites or cause bacterial infection to your hedgehog.
To feed insects to your hedgehogs, you can buy gut loaded insects from reptile shops.
Dried nuts, fruits and seeds
Dried nuts such as peanuts, dried seeds and raisings and sultanas are choking hazards. They can potentially get stuck on the roof of the mouth of your hedgehog resulting in choke. You should therefore avoid feeding them to your hedgehogs.
Additionally, some nuts contain oils which increase the calorific content of these nuts. As such, these nuts have an increased potential to lead to obesity and should therefore be avoided.
Raisins and sultanas on the other hand are also reported to be toxic to hedgehogs. They can cause damage to your hedgehog’s organs such as kidneys and liver and should therefore not be fed in any form.
Citrus fruits like lime, lemons, and oranges are very acidic. They should not be fed to hedgehogs as they can cause digestive problems and destroy the digestive tract.
Pineapples are also very acids and contain too much sugar. Feeding hedgehogs on pineapples can potentially cause digestive problems and should be avoided. Additionally, the sugars increase the risk of obesity. Hedgehogs should therefore not eat pineapples.
Grapefruits are also acidic and should be avoided with hedgehogs.
Tomatoes are also acidic and can cause digestive problems and should therefore also be avoided.
Avocados are too oily and increase the risk of leading to obesity. Hedgehogs should therefore not eat avocados.
Additionally, there are other sources that suggest that avocados are potentially toxic to hedgehogs.
Mushrooms are said to be toxic to hedgehogs. Since it has not been established which mushrooms are safe and which are not, you should not feed mushrooms to hedgehogs.
Chocolate contains milk as one of its ingredients. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant and should not eat chocolate. Additionally, chocolate contains a lot of sugars that can lead to obesity.
Furthermore, chocolate contains other substances such as caffeine and theobromine among others that are potentially toxic to hedgehogs and other pets. You should therefore not feed hedgehogs or other pets with chocolate.
Raw eggs have the potential to transmit bacterial infections such as salmonellosis to your hedgehog. This can cause serious illnesses that could be fatal. As such you should avoid feeding hedgehogs on raw eggs.
You can feed hedgehogs on boiled eggs or scrambled eggs. Do not feed hedgehogs on fried eggs. Fried eggs contain too much oil.