Since hedgehogs are insectivores, people assume they need nutrients from insects to sustain their bodies. Whilst there is some truth in this, finding out if insects or other foods could cause overeating in hedgehogs needs investigation.
So, do hedgehogs overeat? Hedgehogs can overeat when it comes to feeding them certain foods like insects especially mealworms and crickets. Even though hedgehogs are naturally insectivores, overeating on insects can cause health issues like metabolic bone disease. Insects should only be given to hedgehogs in moderation with fruit, vegetables and dry cat biscuits being the mainstay of their diet.
In the wild hedgehogs need to forage and hunt for their food, so when hunting insects, they may go through periods where they are unsuccessful in finding enough insects to eat. Thereby supplementing their food with what else they can forage like plants, berries and so on. With this in mind, they don’t get the opportunity to overeat.
However, with the domestication of hedgehogs, owners usually feed their hedgehogs with what they assume is their natural diet as in the wild. Leading to them giving them more insects than they would normally eat in the wild.
While this may be good as insects do provide source of chitin that’s good for the hedgehog’s spine health. The chances of a hedgehog overeating are increased, as they have an abundance of food which they wouldn’t have in the wild.
Food is an integral element in making a pet happy and satisfied. However, you should know how to properly feed your hedgehog not only to keep them healthy but comfortable. Read on to learn how you should feed your hedgehog, including the effects of overfeeding your pet hedgehog, and the correct amount of food to give to your hedgehog.
Can You Overfeed a Hedgehog?
So, can you overfeed your hedgehog? Depending on what they are fed, hedgehogs can overfeed especially when they are given too many insects like mealworms and crickets. Insects should only be given in moderation to reduce the chances of overeating. Hedgehogs tend not to overfeed on staple foods like dry cat biscuits, fruits and vegetables.
Many people assume, as hedgehogs naturally feed on insects and any other supplementary food, they cannot overfeed their hedgehog. To them the idea of trying to overfeed their hedgehog is ridiculous. They assume their hedgehog will eat whenever they want, and this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t leave enough food for their hedgehog to feed whenever it’s hungry.
Typically, hedgehogs, just like any other physiological being, are built to regulate their food intake, however, there are certain foods that they find difficult to eat in moderation. Just like humans there are certain foods we can eat in moderation and then there’s other food we just can’t control how much we eat, like candy, cakes, biscuits and other delicious goodies.
Hedgehogs have the same affinity for insects, to them, insects are the equivalent of human candy. So, giving them too many insects, means they will in all likelihood overeat and gorge themselves on the insects. We only give our hedgehog insects under supervision, so we know how many insects he’s eating every week.
Leaving food at night in their cages shouldn’t be a problem when you go to sleep, as long as it’s not a load of insects. If it’s dry cat biscuits, then hedgehogs are smart creatures that will determine how much to eat and when to stop eating.
Having and sticking to an exact feeding schedule will typically go a long way in making your pet hedgehog happy instead of forcing your hedgehog to feed.
Overfeeding pet hedgehogs isn’t quite rare as it seems, as it’s common to come across an obese hedgehog. In such cases, the food choice you give to your hedgehog has likely contributed to the condition.
Additionally, if they don’t have access to exercise, like a running wheel in their cage, then their sedentary lifestyle contributes a lot to making a hedgehog obese. In order to avoid overfeeding your hedgehog and making them obese, you should do the following:
Document Feeding Habits
Before you determine whether you are overfeeding your pet hedgehog, the first thing is to determine what supplementary food you’re feeding him every day. Apart from your hedgehog’s feeding habits, ensure to document each food you give to your hedgehog, including table scraps and any treats, especially insects like mealworms and crickets.
Additionally, make a point of writing down the amount of food you give to your hedgehog each time. This way, you will be better positioned to take the necessary steps to overfeed your hedgehog.
Give Insects Sparingly
Just like table scraps, you can unknowingly overfeed and give your additional hedgehog calories with insects. This happens when you give your hedgehog insects often, which will not only lead to a build-up in calories, but you may end up overfeeding your hedgehog.
Regardless of the insects you decide to give to your hedgehog, maintain a specific recommended amount. Even better, you can limit insects to just one or two mealworms a week, as long as your hedgehog feeds well.
How Much Food Should I Feed My Hedgehog?
Just like any other pet, a hedgehog is prone to obesity. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance to ensure that you monitor the amount of food you give your hedgehog. The hedgehog kibble should make up the majority of food that you provide to your hedgehog daily. Although hedgehog usually burns many calories during the night, it’s only proper to control the amount of kibble it gets.
So, how much food should you give to your hedgehog? One or two tablespoons of a hedgehog or cat kibble should be fed to an adult hedgehog on any given day. At the same time, you should be able to provide your pet companion with a tablespoon of vegetables and fruits. With any insects being limited, ideally no more than four or five mealworms a week.
Although larger and highly active hedgehogs may need more food, it’s of utmost importance to ensure that you monitor your hedgehog’s weight if you realize that your hedgehog has put on weight. If it has added more than 10% of its normal weight, then you should be alarmed and cut back the amount of food that you offer your hedgehog.
Since hedgehogs are mostly active during the night, you should not be surprised if your eating friend doesn’t eat much during the day. However, you should be considerate and give your pet hedgehog enough food to last the night.
If any food is leftover in the morning (or any other time for that matter), you should ensure to dispose of anything that’s lost it’s freshness like fruit or vegetables and replace them with fresh food while maintaining the feeding schedule. Dry cat biscuits tend to remain fresher and edible for a longer time, so replacing these everyday is not required.
At the same time, always ensure to offer your hedgehog enough fresh water, as they need to remain hydrated and ensure any food they’ve eaten can easily pass through their body. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a constipated hedgehog.
Should You Feed Hedgehogs Every Day?
Today, hedgehogs, both domesticated and wild, find it hard to find food on their own. Due to this, hedgehogs will often eat pretty much anything that they can get.
So, should you feed hedgehogs every day? You should make sure to feed your hedgehog everyday. As there’ll be periods when they are exercising more on their running wheel where they require more food and other times when they appear more sedentary, where they require less food. Some food should only be given on some days in moderation like insects, whilst other foods like dry cat food biscuits can be given everyday.
Hedgehogs require a steady supply of food to survive especially when they are active and if the heating in their cage isn’t up to scratch, they may not feed as much as they may find the cold off-putting. They may even fall into hibernation if the cage temperature isn’t at adequate levels and this can be fatal with pet hedgehogs.
While feeding your hedgehog every day is crucial, it’s equally important to know what you should feed your companion. Generally, good quality proprietary food such as dry cat biscuits will go a long way in making your hedgehog comfortable. Be careful of specialized hedgehog foods as these contain large amounts of fat and are not recommended for pet hedgehogs.
While at it, you shouldn’t forget to offer your hedgehog fresh water in a shallow sided dish. Since hedgehogs are partly carnivores, you can go further to indulge their taste buds with a slice of cooked and tender meat, we normally give our hedgehog cooked chicken.
Remember that although hedgehogs are typically insectivores, they can indulge and digest a wide variety of foods. That said, keep in mind that insect and animal protein are the best foods to give to your hedgehog. However, it would help if you also kept in mind that hedgehogs also require a lot of fiber, fortunately dry cat biscuits include the required amounts of fiber for their diet.
Also, ensure to avoid any overly processed foods. This is mainly because hedgehogs are necessarily insectivores, and due to this, they are quite efficient in processing vitamins. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance to carefully watch any additives in processed foods since some cat foods come with high amounts of Vitamin A and D.
At the same time, it’s important to note that hedgehogs have significantly evolved and can easily digest fats. Due to this, they have a high tendency to rapidly gain weight. Therefore, always watch the number of fats that you give feed to your hedgehog.
Properly Feed Your Hedgehog
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals that are accustomed to eating insects. Although offering them supplementary food is crucial for their survival, it’s essential to keep in mind the type of food you give to your hedgehog. At the same time, maintaining a good feeding schedule is paramount to improving growth and preventing obesity.