I have seen several questions on the web regarding hedgehogs pooping all over them and even sometimes eating their feces. It is also said that they sometimes drink their own urine. This grossed me out. I never had a hedgehog eating poop, ever. And Hence, I decided to get to the bottom of this. This post enlists all my findings.
Do Hedgehogs eat Poop? Hedgehogs do eat their poop sometimes. It can happen due to several reasons. The most common reason would be that they are not getting enough nutrition from their food and therefore eating their poo again to digest what was left behind by the system. Another reason could be that many animals like to perform self-anointment. In this, they poop and rub it all over their body to anoint themselves. This behavior is commonly noticed in the early stages of a hedgie’s life.
If your hedgehog is doing this—don’t beat yourself up. It is not your fault, but it is the lack of understanding that is leading to such situations.
A lot is needed to be understood to cope with the problems facing a hedgehog. Therefore it is highly recommended that you read this article as a whole and get your hedgehog’s life in shape.
Why do hedgehogs eat poop?
As said earlier, the most common reason for hedgehogs is because they are not getting the nutrition required from their diet. A lot of animals have small digestive systems, and hedgehogs are no exception. They have a tiny digestive system, and therefore they cannot digest food completely. As a result, they eat their poop to get the left of nutrients and proteins. In case they have other symptoms like snot coming out of their noses or if they are sneezing and licking. Then, you should immediately visit your nearby vet.
Is it healthy for a hedgehog to eat his poop?
Yes, it is quite healthy for the hedgehog to eat his feces. They get quite a lot of nutrients and proteins as well as cellulite remaining undigested and preserved in the excretion. It is only harmful when they are eating poo from other animals or from other hedgehogs who are infected or severely sick.
How to provide nutrition-rich food to hedgehogs
The easiest way is to provide cat foods with 2 to 3 high-quality brands and mixing them. There are very well-reputed brands like wellness available in the market. Another favorable brand is Natural Balance’s green pea and duck. You can also add insects which form a part of their natural diet. Insects like mealworms and waxworms are quite familiar to hedgehogs, and both are available in everyday pet stores. You can also provide them fresh veggies and eggs sometimes.
Sometimes it happens that hedgehog is not eating the food. There could be a simple reason for this – you have recently changed their diet or the product brand. Hedgehogs are very picky about their food, and they understand the food through its smell. So, if you want to change their diet, do it slowly and deliberately. Do not change their food in quick succession. What you can do is to provide some nuggets of the new brand with the old one and see how they react.
We are also listing a list of foods that hedgehogs naturally eat and should be provided to them regularly.
What can hedgehogs eat?
In the wild, hedgehogs live on a diet of insects and sometimes rodents like small mice. They also eat at night. So providing them with a source of fresh vegetables and concluded insects is a good idea. Here are our favorite list of foods that can be provided to your hedgy every day.
Mealworms and wax worms: Both of these can be bought from the pet store. They come in both alive and in frozen states. However, the benefit of providing a hedgehog with live food is that it helps in a type of mental exercise and provide playtime to them. Besides that, mealworms can provide quality protein, and they are a source of chitin (a type of protein found in insects with a lot of fiber). Waxworms tend to be on the fatty side of things, and the chitin amount in them is slightly lower than mealworms.
Crickets: They can be found in both the dry state as well as live ones. They also provide chitin to our hedgies, but make sure to do the process of gut loading before providing them to hedgehogs. Also, providing a live cricket is better than providing them as a dry meal. The live ones are extra juicy, and the hedgy can play with them before gulping them out.
Gut loading insects is quite beneficial as you can provide nutritional foods to hedgehogs, which generally they don’t like to eat. In this process, you can provide nutritious veggies and fruits to insects before they become your hedgey’s prey. Veggies like lettuces and celery should be avoided as they lack in macronutrients. Pet stores do provide items for the gut loading of insects. Do ask around.
It is also essential that you source your insects from a place known for hygienic breeding practices and should not contain segments of pesticides and fertilizers.
Fruits and vegetables: You should always provide them fresh fruits and vegetables like bananas, apples, berries, et cetera. Dry food should be avoided, and foods like avocados are a big no-no. In fact, they can be dangerous to hedgehogs.
Meat and eggs: Provide both meat (like chicken) and eggs in a small form and always in a cooked state.
Kibble (hedgehog kibble or cat kibble): Kibble will form the most prominent part of your hedgehog’s diet. There are both products available for cat-specific kibble and hedgehog kibble. But, generally, the cat ones work for hedgies too, and they are cheaper. Make sure that it has at least 30% of protein and not more than 20% of fat in it. Here is a complete list of high-quality cables available in the market.
How much food should you provide to a hedgehog?
Hedgehog food should be controlled and provided in specific amounts because hedgehogs are quite prone to obesity. A hedgehog adult should not get more than two teaspoons of kibble per day. Besides that, you can provide one teaspoon of fresh fruits, veggies, and insects. Some larger and more active hedgehogs can be provided with slightly larger meals but with caution. Keep checking their weight in a scheduled amount of time, and if their weight gain is more than 10%, rethink the diet.
They also eat at night as they are nocturnal beings (animals most active during the dawn and night time). Make sure to clean their bowels and remove the uneaten food within 24 hours, so they don’t have dietary issues.
Frequently asked questions
Are vitamins needed for hedgehogs?
If you are providing your hedgehog with a complete nutritional diet, and several sources of protein like insects and high-quality cat food, then vitamin supplements are not needed. If you still feel that your hedgehog is nutritionally deficient, contact your vet immediately.
How much water do hedgehogs need?
Yes, there should be a consistent supply of water around the hedgehog so that they can drink often and anytime they want. Many people use sipper bottles to provide water to their hedgehogs. Therefore, it should be examined that the hedgehog is comfortable with these bottles are not. If he is, remember to clean those sippers as they can be clogged due to food or feces from the hedgehog. Make sure to clean their surroundings daily as well.
How can I potty train him so he doesnt poop everywhere?
We have written a detailed article on this. Please check it out here.
Hedgehogs are delicate creatures, and they need a lot of constant care. If you provide them with nutritional diets and raw foods that contain ample amounts of protein, fats, and fibers, they are unlikely to eat their poop. If they are still eating, and also showing signs of other troubles, you should consult an exotic vet.
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