What Can’t Hedgehogs Eat? Essential List of Dangerous Foods


Pygmy hedgehog next to list of things they cannot eat

Being able to check on a list to see what an African Pygmy Hedgehog can’t eat, makes it easier to avoid the dangerous and toxic food choices. Thereby avoiding any potential health issues.

What can’t African Pygmy hedgehogs eat? Hedgehogs can’t eat dog food, citrus fruit like oranges and lemons, other foods like grapes, raisins, tomatoes, onions, garlic, chocolate, peas, corn, kitten food to self-caught or bait-shop insects are all bad choices. Hedgehogs should not be given any milk or dairy products as they are lactose intolerent.

If you inadvertently give your pygmy hedgehog food that’s dangerous or toxic to them, you must seek urgent medical advice from a licensed veterinarian in your area.

Here’s my list of 45 bad foods for pygmy hedgehogs with details of why they shouldn’t be given.

1. Milk

African Pygmy Hedgehogs like all hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, making milk and all dairy products difficult for them to digest. More than likely dairy products will cause a painful upset stomach.

2. Cheese       

Cheese is a dairy product containing lactose which pygmy hedgehogs can’t digest so the cheese is not recommended.

3. Hedgehog Food   

Be careful with food designed labelled as hedgehog food, as this type of food is generally designed for wild non-African Pygmy Hedgehogs. They generally contain too much fat as these foods are designed for hedgehogs who will be very active and will hibernate in the colder months.

This food will make African Pygmy Hedgehogs kept as pets obese. Some varieties also contain insects that if fed regularly can damage bones as they upset the calcium to phosphorous ratio in hedgehogs. can contain nuts and seeds

4. Dog Food  

Dog food can contain large amounts of corn or peas, which is used as a filler. Both corn and peas upset the calcium to phosphorous ratio causing bone damage in all hedgehogs.

5. Cat Food with additives  

The choice of cat food requires some diligence as some cat food can have large amounts of additives and fillers like corn and peas. These upset the deplete calcium from hedgehog bones causing them to break, as the phosphorous in these additives and fillers are too high in ratio to calcium.

6. Kitten Food           

Kitten food is designed for growing cats and contains higher levels of fat, with most also containing milk. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant so the milk will cause digestive problems.

7. Avocado    

Avocado is not recommended as they contain toxins that can be dangerous to pygmy hedgehogs. They are also very fatty and this would cause fatty liver issues and obesity.

8. Oranges     

Citrus fruits like oranges are quite acidic, causing digestive issues and damaging the hedgehog’s digestive tract. Oranges will cause discomfort and pain to any hedgehogs eating them.

9. Lemons      

Citrus fruits like lemons are quite acidic, causing digestive issues and damaging the hedgehog’s digestive tract. Lemons will cause discomfort and pain to any hedgehogs eating them.

10. Limes       

Citrus fruits like limes are quite acidic, causing digestive issues and damaging the hedgehog’s digestive tract. Limes will cause discomfort and pain to any hedgehogs eating them.

11. Grapefruit           

Citrus fruits like grapefruit are quite acidic, causing digestive issues and damaging the hedgehog’s digestive tract. Grapefruit will cause discomfort and pain to any hedgehogs eating them.

12. Raisins          

Raisins can be toxic to hedgehogs. They can cause damage to their organs including renal (kidney) and liver damage. There is an increased choking risk and possible toxic reactions to preservatives used to keep the raisins edible for longer.

13. Dried fruits         

Dried fruits contain concentrated amounts of sugar compared to their natural counterparts which contain water to dilute the sugar. There is an increased choking risk and possible toxic reactions to preservatives used to keep the dried fruit edible for longer.

14. Grapes    

Grapes can be toxic to hedgehogs. They can cause damage to their organs including renal (kidney) and liver damage.

15. Pineapple

Fruits like pineapple are quite acidic, causing digestive issues and damaging the hedgehog’s digestive tract. Pineapple will cause discomfort and pain to any hedgehogs eating them.

16. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are actually fruits and are quite acidic, causing digestive issues and damaging the hedgehog’s digestive tract. Tomatoes will cause discomfort and pain to any hedgehogs eating them.

17. Pomegranates

Fruits like pomegranate are quite acidic, causing digestive issues and damaging the hedgehog’s digestive tract. Pomegranate will cause discomfort and pain to any hedgehogs eating them.

18. Self-caught insects        

Insects caught outdoors run the risk of carrying pesticides, parasites and other nasties that could be dangerous to pygmy hedgehogs. Reputable pet shop insects are bred in carefully controlled environments.

19. Bait shop insects

Insects bought from bait shops run the risk of carrying pesticides, parasites and other nasties that could be dangerous to pygmy hedgehogs. Reputable petshop insects are bred in carefully controlled environments.

20. Processed Meat 

Processed and canned meat contains additives and preservatives not too good for pygmy hedgehogs. These foods also tend to be smoked or salted and are generally high in fat.

21. Bacon      

This is a highly calorific food which is fatty, salty and contains chemicals for preserving like nitrates, that might be toxic to hedgehogs.

22. Sausages 

This is a highly calorific food which is fatty, salty and contains chemicals for preserving like nitrates, that might be toxic to hedgehogs.

23. Ham         

This is a highly calorific food which is fatty, salty and contains chemicals for preserving like nitrates, that might be toxic to hedgehogs.

24. Chocolate

Contains milk (hedgehogs are lactose intolerant), with high amounts of fat and sugar (obesity risk). With other ingredients also being toxic to hedgehogs.

25. Spicy food           

Pygmy hedgehogs have not evolved to eat spicy food and will most likely end up with stomach upsets. Spices themselves may be dangerous to hedgehogs. Spicy foods may contain nuts, peas, milk and other foods not suitable for hedgehogs.

26. Tea Tree oil-based foods          

Tea Tree oil is highly toxic to pygmy hedgehogs. Do not even use in bath water or as a treatment for mites as they are likely to ingest it through drinking the bathwater or by licking themselves.

27. Nuts        

Nuts are a choking hazard and should be avoided. Nuts also contain large amounts of fat, can also be salty and smoked which also isn’t good for pygmy hedgehogs.

28. Seeds       

Seeds are choking hazard as the African Pygmy Hedgehog is unable to eat seeds the way a rodent-like a rabbit can by grinding them down. This increases the likelihood of choking.

29. Raw Meat           

Raw meat has bacterial risks like Salmonella, Campylobacter can cause severe illnesses in hedgehogs.

30. Raw Eggs 

Raw eggs have bacterial risks like Salmonella, Campylobacter can cause severe illnesses in hedgehogs.

31. Onions    

Onions are not recommended as they cause gastrointestinal irritation, leading to red blood cell damage. Seek urgent medical veterinarian advice if a hedgehog eats onions.

32. Garlic       

Garlic is not recommended as they cause gastrointestinal irritation, leading to red blood cell damage. Seek urgent medical veterinarian advice if a hedgehog eats garlic.

33. Celery      

Celery is not recommended as they cause gastrointestinal irritation, leading to red blood cell damage. Seek urgent medical veterinarian advice if a hedgehog eats celery.

34. Chives     

Chives are not recommended as they cause gastrointestinal irritation, leading to red blood cell damage. Seek urgent medical veterinarian advice if a hedgehog eats chives.

35. Mushrooms        

Mushrooms are dangerous to pygmy hedgehogs with some varieties being more deadly than others.

36. Grass       

Grass contains pesticides and parasites, it’s not digestible by hedgehogs and should never be fed to them.

37. Peas         

Can upset the calcium to phosphate balance, causing the hedgehogs to expel calcium from their bones out in their urine and faeces. Leads to bones breaking and is extremely painful for hedgehogs.

38. Corn        

Can upset the calcium to phosphate balance, causing the hedgehogs to expel calcium from their bones out in their urine and faeces. Leads to bones breaking and is extremely painful for hedgehogs.

39. Potatoes 

Potatoes are highly calorific from their high carbohydrates and offer very little nutritional value. Raw potatoes are toxic to hedgehogs.

40. Rhubarb  

Rhubarb is dangerous to pygmy hedgehogs even their leaves are toxic and must be avoided.

41. Popcorn  

Plain popcorn is highly calorific and likened to junk food for hedgehogs. Salted, sugary or buttery varieties are not recommended. The hull of popcorn needs to be removed as this can be a choking hazard.

42. Bread       

Bread has no nutritional value and is calorific. Not recommended.

43. Fish          

They do not eat fish in the wild, so may not have evolved to eat fish and it may cause them digestive problems as they may not be able to digest the fish properly.

44. Peanut butter    

Peanut butter is very fatty and contains large amounts of salt. Not recommended.

45. Sweet Potato     

Sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates but also high in vitamin A. Vitamin A can’t be easily expelled from the liver and can build up to toxic levels.

Calcium Leaching

Calcium leaching causes loss of calcium from an African Pygmy Hedgehog’s bones making them weaker and prone to breaking. As you can imagine this would cause a lot of pain for a pygmy hedgehog and may require the animal to be put to sleep to ease their suffering.

The high phosphorous content of some foods combines with the calcium in the pygmy hedgehog’s body. This causes the calcium in the pygmy hedgehog’s bones to be expelled in their urine and faeces, resulting in bone problems.

Vitamin Toxicity

Certain vitamins can become toxic when food containing the vitamin is eaten regularly by the pygmy hedgehog. Vitamin A and Vitamin D are vitamins unlike Vitamin C that the hedgehog just like humans will have problems getting rid of if too much ends up in their livers. This will undoubtedly lead to toxicity and damage to their livers.

Related Questions:

What can African Pygmy Hedgehogs eat list? Dry cat biscuits, certain insects, certain fruits, some vegetables like broccoli are considered to be safe for African Pygmy Hedgehogs.

What fruit can African Pygmy Hedgehogs eat? Bananas, apples, pears, blueberries (skin removed), watermelon are generally considered safe for African Pygmy Hedgehogs in moderation as they contain a lot of sugar.

Bal Kang

Hi I'm Bal together with my daughter Jinnee, we've created this website about African Pygmy Hedgehogs. We've learnt a lot looking after our hedgehog Hynee and share our knowledge, tips and tricks.

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