Guinea pigs are cute little, friendly rodents that are often kept as pets. These small and social animals primarily live off a diet consisting of much hay and grass to ensure they gain the necessary nutrients to keep their digestive system moving as it should.
Hedgehogs, on the other hand, are insectivores and primarily eat insects, worms, snails, slugs, crickets, grasshoppers, earthworms and any other critters they can get their small hands on.
However, hedgehogs can be known to deviate from this, with larger ones happily consuming meat, and many even enjoying the occasional taste of fish.
It begs the question, would hedgehogs also be able to divert from their normal diet and tuck into some guinea pig food? And if they were to do so, are there any recorded benefits?
Keep reading to uncover whether this is a great alternative to mix into a hedgehog’s diet, or if it should be avoided at all costs.
Is Guinea Pig Food Safe To Eat For Hedgehogs?
While it can be tempting to offer a hedgehog to some guinea pig food, especially if you own both or if a hedgehog keeps creeping into the back garden, the truth is though hedgehogs are not herbivores and so anything plant based, including guinea pig food, does not meet their nutritional requirements and can be very bad for their digestive system.
The food that guinea pigs eat is mainly made up of hay and grass, this is because they rely on the fiber to keep their teeth short and digestive system functioning normally.
To put into perspective just how much they eat, a guinea pig daily usually consumes about their own body weight in grass and hay.
In contrast, like many other foods not suitable to their diet, hedgehogs have real trouble digesting hay and gain no benefits from it.
Guinea pig food also contains no meat but instead is filled with rodent food like vegetables such as carrots which, while healthy as an occasional snack, should never be the replacement for a hedgehog’s insectivore based diet.
Keeping A Hedgehog And Guinea Pig Together
If you have a big enough cage and are housing a hedgehog and guinea pig to become best buds, you must always know of the risks and precautions to ensure both get along, and this goes for food.
If they are in the same cage then a keen smelling hedgehog will inevitably take a nibble of a guinea pig’s food now and again, just try not to encourage this as he may make it a habit and can become quite unhealthy from it, receiving no needed nutritional requirements for the day.
A better way to go about this is to separate them by keeping one in a different room, or even better, buying two cages to separate them.
This way you can enjoy both with their own separate needs without having to worry about mixing foods, and avoiding other risks that come with housing two animals in the same cage.
If you’re worrying that a hedgehog might get lonely from this, there is no need as hedgehogs are actually very isolated and prefer being alone most of the time, especially if they are in one of their moodier phases.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Any Other Pet Food?
Yes, although it’s not recommended due to the risk of contamination and the fact that it won’t provide the necessary nutrients for a hedgehog.
If you choose to feed your hedgehog any pet food, it should only be given in moderation and only after checking its safety first.
Cat food is one great option possessing high nutritional value, though just try to avoid the saltier options. Dog food can also be a great option for them to snack on, just make sure to cut the chunks as they are larger for a dog’s bigger teeth.
The one animal food to avoid which might be surprising given how similar they look is ferrets. Ferret food is high in protein but also fat, having far more of each than a hedgehog needs in their regular diet.
It’s also full of sugar, which can cause dental problems and lead to a very round and heavy hedgehog very quickly.
The best thing to do when considering other pet food would be to give your hedgehog a treat once a week or every few weeks at the most, and make sure to check the ingredients list before to see how they react and if they pick up a new favorite taste.
Unfortunately, hedgehogs cannot join in enjoying their guinea pig friend’s food, because they are not herbivores and gain no beneficial nutrients from eating plants.
However, don’t let this stop you from experimenting with some other animal treats that include a bit more meat or veg to see if your hog picks up a new healthy appetite.