The hedgehog is a remarkable creature and unlike most mammals reached the pinnacle of its natural evolutionary state shortly after it first appeared nearly fifteen million years ago.
This small, unassuming creature is incredibly successful, and the seventeen distinct species of hedgehog despite the fact that there are no native species left in America, have managed to thrive all over the world.
Regarded as a vital part of the ecosystem, the only country in the world where the hedgehog is thought to be a threat to the indigenous wildlife is New Zealand, where after being artificially introduced by European settlers, its voracious appetite has wreaked havoc among the insect and flora populations.
What Do Hedgehogs Eat?
Nocturnal by nature, hedgehogs are omnivorous mammals who, despite the enduring and unfounded populist idea that they love nothing more than grass, primarily feed on smaller animals such as insects, frogs, and snakes.
Hedgehogs are also well-versed in the art of dietary skullduggery and have been known to steal birds’ eggs from their nests and eat them.
However, they are also partial to berries, mushrooms, and roots, and in times of desperate need, are also carrion feeders, whose diet can adapt to eat to eat most things, which led to them being reclassified as omnivores when the term insectivore was retired by biologists.
While some ecologists and naturalists encourage people to leave food out for hedgehogs as a way to help individual members of the species survive an increasingly harsh climate, others believe that it is this idea that has led to the rise in popularity of hedgehogs being kept as pets, which has divided opinion among biologists.
Some think that the species was never meant to be kept in captivity, while others see it as being harmless.
Do Hedgehogs Eat Vegetables And Fruit?
If you do want to feed a hedgehog that’s taken up residence in your yard or garden, or have adopted one as a pet, you’ll need to know what to feed it, and as it’s relatively difficult to capture the insects that they normally prey on, you’ll need to know what you can feed them as an alternative.
While most vets would advise you to leave a bowl of cat food out for a hedgehog (provided of course that it isn’t fish flavor), if you don’t have a cat, and you don’t have any tins of cat food lying around, you’ll probably be feeling a little anxious and worried about what you can feed your spiny little visitor or friend to ensure that they’ll not only survive but will also thrive and live a long contented life.
First of all, don’t worry. There are numerous vegetables and fruits that a hedgehog can and will happily eat.
Berries, melon, apples, peaches, and bananas are the commonplace fruits that hedgehogs love to feast on and they’re also more than a little partial to fresh tomatoes, green beans, pumpkin, and broccoli, all of which can be cut up and either left out for a hedgehog or can become part of your pets daily diet.
Hedgehogs Can’t Eat Everything
There are, of course, a number of fruits and vegetables that hedgehogs can’t eat, and can be dangerous and in some cases lethal to them.
All hedgehogs have a tendency to put on weight and are prone to obesity, so any vegetables that have a high starch content, such as potatoes shouldn’t be left out for, or fed to your hedgehog.
They’ll just encourage, and help them to pile on the ounces, which can have a devastating effect on their short and long-term health.
Like a lot of other mammals, hedgehogs can’t eat, and shouldn’t be fed, any vegetable that’s a member of the allium family, so that means no onions, shallots, or garlic, all of which can potentially be fatal to a hedgehog.
Unfortunately, the list of things that a hedgehog can’t eat doesn’t stop there. They shouldn’t be fed any citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, and limes) as the high natural acid content can be harmful to them.
The reason why hedgehogs can’t eat citrus fruit is the same reason why you shouldn’t feed them pineapple, the high acid content.
Dried fruit, especially the smaller varieties such as raisins, can be a choking hazard and should be avoided at all costs, as should nuts and seeds for the same reasons.
Although nuts and seeds are far more harmful to a hedgehog than dried fruit, as they not only pose the same risk of choking the poor animal to death, they’re also impossible for a hedgehog to digest.
They might have reached the pinnacle of their species evolution, but they haven’t evolved to digest nuts or seeds.
Surprisingly, avocados are toxic to all species of hedgehog and despite what you might hear from other “experts”, shouldn’t be fed to your hedgehog, whether they’re living wild or as part of your family, under any circumstances.
Is There Anything Else That I Shouldn’t Feed A Hedgehog?
We know that the list of what you can’t, and shouldn’t feed to a hedgehog seems like it far outweighs the list of what you can feed a hedgehog, given that the species is omnivorous, but we’ve almost reached the end of the road, so bear with us a little while longer.
Remember how we said that they had evolved to be able to digest nuts and seeds? Well, the same is true for dairy products, so even though you may be tempted to, you shouldn’t leave a saucer of milk out for a hedgehog.
Their digestive system won’t thank you for it, and neither will they.
The inability to tolerate dairy, coupled with the adverse effects that caffeine can have on them, is the reason why you shouldn’t feed chocolate to your pet hedgehog. Again, your hedgehog won’t thank you for it, and it could end up making them seriously ill.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Carrots?
They can, but if you’re going to feed carrots to a hedgehog, you’ll need to cook them, the carrots that is, before you do. Raw carrots are incredibly hard and can be difficult for a hedgehog to digest properly, but softening the carrots by boiling them first, makes it much easier for a hedgehog to be able to both chew, and digest them.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Blueberries?
Hedgehogs can and will eat as many blueberries as you can feed them. The problem is, hedgehogs like them a little too much due to their high sugar content, and given their propensity to put on weight, you’ll need to be careful about the number of blueberries that you feed to a hedgehog.
As long as you carefully monitor how many blueberries you’re feeding your hedgehog, you, and your hedgehog won’t have to worry about any adverse effects or potential health problems.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Mango?
The blueberry rule applies to mango too. While hedgehogs enjoy eating them, and it’s perfectly safe for them to eat mango, due to the naturally high levels of sugar in the fruit, you’ll need to keep a close eye on how many mangoes you feed your hog.
Moderation is key and a little bit of what they like, and mangoes are something that they like a lot, never did any hedgehog any harm.
Can Hedgehogs Chew On Apple Sticks?
They can, and letting them chew on apple sticks will encourage their natural instincts and curiosity, as it’s similar to the way that they behave in the wild while foraging and scavenging for food. Apple sticks get a big thumbs up from hedgehogs and hedgehog owners everywhere.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Apple Skin?
They absolutely can, and as hedgehogs love to eat apples, peeling them before you feed them to your hedgehog is a waste of time. A hedgehog will happily eat an apple whether it’s been peeled or its skin has been left intact.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Apples?
Apples are one of the easiest, and safest fruits to feed a hedgehog, as they’ll also eat them in the wild if they come across an apple that’s fallen off a tree while they’re scavenging and hunting for food.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Strawberries?
Soft, sweet strawberries are a hedgehog’s idea of fruit heaven. They’re soft enough for a hedgehog to easily chew and swallow and their natural sugar content makes them almost impossible for a hedgehog to resist.
It’s worth following the same rule that applies to hedgehogs and blueberries and mangoes, as the sugar content in strawberries can lead to a hedgehog putting on an undue amount of weight if they eat too many of them. Monitor how many they eat carefully, and all will be well.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Raspberries?
They can, and raspberries like blueberries should form part of the diet that you feed to your hedgehog. Just remember, a little of this soft fruit can be good for your hedgehog, but too much can be problematic. It’s the sugar thing again.
The Final Fruit And Vegetable Word
Hopefully, we’ve answered all of the questions that you had about the fruits and vegetables that your hedgehog can and can’t eat, and what you should and shouldn’t be feeding them. But if you do have any other questions, feel free to get in touch and we’ll do our best to answer them.