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Can Hedgehogs Eat Chocolate? What You Need to Know!

variety of chocolates

Like many animals out there, hedgehogs should not eat chocolate, as it is toxic and can cause serious illness. If they eat enough of it, death is possible, though it would have to be a large amount of chocolate. But their small size means that even an ounce is too much.

Instead, you should focus on giving your hedgehog foods that are high in protein. High-quality hedgehog foods are the best options because they are specifically formulated for these small animals. You should also feed them a small number of gut-loaded insects, which should provide them with extra nutrition.

Chocolate is toxic to hedgehogs in general, but it also has way too much sugar. Even white chocolate should be avoided. While it won’t be nearly as toxic as regular chocolate, the amount of sugar is substantial for these small animals.

For a complete understanding of why all kinds of chocolate are so bad for these animals, keep reading.

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What Do Hedgehogs Eat?

Pet hedgehogs should primarily eat commercial food designed specifically for hedgehogs. It contains everything that your pet needs to thrive, which can’t be said about chocolate.

Before the invention of hedgehog food, most owners fed their hedgehogs dry cat food. This can still work today. Since they are both obligate carnivores, hedgehogs and cats have similar diets.

That said, most carnivores can and do eat plants. You can provide your hedgehog with small amounts of fresh veggies and fruits. Care should be taken to select the correct varieties, though. They are not all the same, nutritionally speaking. Avoid veggies and fruits that are mostly water, like lettuce. You don’t want your hedgehog to fill up on water when they could be eating nutritionally-complete foods.

On top of this, you can provide a small number of insects. Be sure to feed the insects nutritional foods before feeding them to your hedgehog, as this ensures that your hedgehog is also eating nutritional foods.

Worms and crickets are great treats for hedgehogs, but they don’t provide a varied or complete diet. That’s what commercial hedgehog food is for.

hedgehog in garden
Image Credit: Pixabay

Can You Offer Chocolate to Hedgehogs as a Treat?

You should not offer chocolate to your hedgehog as a treat, as it is toxic to hedgehogs. Technically, chocolate is toxic to most mammals, including humans. This is partially due to the caffeine content in chocolate. If you consume too much caffeine, you will develop problems.

A hedgehog is much smaller than a person, so they can easily consume too much caffeine from chocolate. A very small amount of chocolate for a human is a large amount for a hedgehog.

Also, chocolate does not have anything that hedgehogs need. It is empty calories at best.

Chocolate can contain a large amount of sugar, though that depends on what kind of chocolate it is. Some types of chocolate are particularly high in sugar, which can also be harmful to hedgehogs.

Types of chocolate that are high in sugar are often low in caffeine and vice versa. However, neither of these substances is good for your hedgehog, and every type of chocolate will have at least one of them in high amounts. Therefore, it is best to simply avoid chocolate altogether.

In fact, it is best not to offer hedgehogs any treats at all. Small numbers of veggies, fruits, and insects are all the treats that they need, and these should not make up a regular part of their diet. Hedgehogs are likely going to be more interested in insects than in chocolate, anyway.

hedgehog on grass
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

What Are Other Foods That Hedgehogs Shouldn’t Eat?

There are quite a few different foods that you should never feed your hedgehog. Specifically speaking, they should not be fed any raw meat or eggs. Hedgehogs also can’t digest milk, as it may cause diarrhea. They can also have a reaction to chocolate for this reason, though the milk content in chocolate does vary.

You shouldn’t offer nuts, seeds, or other hard foods to your hedgehog. These can get stuck on the roof of their mouth and become difficult to remove.

Don’t offer any people food to your hedgehog either. Even if it isn’t harmful, it likely doesn’t contain anything that they need, and your hedgehog should mostly be eating foods that meet their nutritional requirements.

asian hedgehog
Image Credit: supakrit tirayasupasin, Shutterstock

What Should I Do If My Hedgehog Eats Chocolate?

If your little pet eats chocolate, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible. Treatment is possible in many cases, but time is key. It will take a while for your pet to start showing symptoms because the chocolate has to get digested, and the chemicals must build up in their system.

However, if you get to the vet before your hedgehog begins to show symptoms, then their condition can be managed. This way, you can prevent complications and other issues.

Dark chocolates are the most dangerous because they contain the most cocoa, which is the main ingredient that causes problems. Therefore, milk and white chocolate aren’t as dangerous. But they are still high in sugar, so they should still not be fed to your pet.

The milk in chocolate can cause digestive problems. Diarrhea can be a serious issue for hedgehogs, so you should keep an eye on their stool.

However, the main concern is respiratory issues. Cocoa can cause breathing problems, which can be deadly. Therefore, you should also keep a close eye on their breathing. If anything seems off, you should visit a vet if you have not already.

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Conclusion

You should avoid feeding your hedgehog any amount of chocolate. Cocoa is toxic to hedgehogs, causing respiratory problems in high amounts. The caffeine in chocolate is also a problem because it can cause all sorts of health problems. Also, many types of chocolate are high in sugar, which is not what your hedgehog needs.

If your hedgehog has eaten chocolate, a vet visit may be in order. We recommend at least calling your vet to see how concerned you should be based on the amount and type of chocolate that your hedgehog has eaten.

You should watch for breathing problems after your hedgehog eats chocolate, as this symptom can be concerning.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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