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Can Hedgehogs Eat Popcorn? What You Need to Know!

popcorn

Popcorn is a trendy healthy snack for humans. It’s considered great for weight loss due to its low calories and energy for its density. While this may be a good choice for a low-calorie human diet, how does this measure up for Hedgehogs?

Plain, unflavored popcorn can be a treat food for hedgehogs in small quantities. It can make fun food for enrichment purposes, but it should not be a part of their regular diet as it does not fit into their nutritional requirements.

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Is Popcorn Good for Hedgehogs?

male hedgehog
Image Credit: Michal Sloviak, Shutterstock

Popcorn is not part of a hedgehog’s natural diet, nor does it resemble anything they usually eat! This means that the nutrients and the breakdown of popcorn does not align with the nutritional requirements for hedgehogs. It shouldn’t be made part of their regular diet; however, it can be used as a fun treat.

Plain popcorn can be given to hedgehogs in small quantities. The texture, shape, and size of popcorn can be stimulating when given as enrichment. Your hedgehog will enjoy the treat and the novelty of the popcorn.

Popcorn should only be given to your hedgehog utterly free of additives. This means no butter, no oil, no salt, no nothing. These additives may make it tastier but can be harmful to the health of your hedgehog.

It also does not provide the appropriate hedgehog nutrition, so it should only be fed in minimal amounts and infrequently.

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The Nutritional Value of Popcorn

popcorns
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay
Popcorn nutrition (per 100g)
Calories 387
Protein 12.94
Fats 4.54
Carbohydrate 77.78
Fiber 14.5
Sugar 0.87

High in Fiber

Popcorn is high in dietary fiber. While hedgehogs are omnivores and do not need as much fiber as herbivores, they do require more fiber than carnivores. This may be linked to the high number of insects they consume and the fiber they would naturally get from insect exoskeletons. Popcorn can offer them some of this fiber.

High in Antioxidants

Popcorn is proven to be high in a specific type of antioxidants, called polyphenol antioxidants. These contribute the protecting cells from harmful radicals within the body. Popcorn as a treat can offer some minor benefits from these antioxidants.

Low in Moisture

Many of the things found in the natural diet of hedgehogs have a decent level of moisture and help keep hedgehogs adequately hydrated. Overfeeding popcorn can cause underhydration, mainly if your hedgehog drinks very little amounts.

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Feeding Popcorn to a Hedgehog Safely

hedgehog on the grass outdoor
Image Credit: byapryl, Pixabay

If you decide to offer your hedgehog small amounts of popcorn for a treat, you must ensure you prepare it safely to be suitable for them to eat. As we mentioned, the popcorn should be totally plain. In addition, you should remove the kernel part of the popcorn, so you are left with just the white “fluffy bit.”

The kernel can easily get stuck in your hedgehog’s teeth and become increasingly irritating, even preventing them from eating until it dislodges. The kernel is also hard enough to become a choking hazard in the small mouth of hedgehogs.

Popcorn should also be served cold and in small quantities. Too much popcorn can fill up the belly of your hedgehog and stop them from eating items with proper nutrition, leading to nutritional deficiencies.

Because of these specific ways to feed popcorn, you should air pop your own popcorn, put a few pieces aside for your spikey little friend, then proceed to flavor the popcorn for yourself!

A Hedgehog’s Diet

Hedgehogs are insectivores, meaning most of their diet in the wild is made up of insects. More broadly, they are considered omnivores because they are also known to eat other small animals such as baby mammals, eggs, fish, and lizards. In addition, they will eat some plant matter such as mushrooms and berries. Overall, they are really opportunistic and eat many things they encounter in the wild.

As pets, it’s best to offer them a similar base diet. It can be hard to replicate such a diverse diet in captivity. As such, it’s recommended to make the bulk of your hedgehogs diet a formulated pellet diet that will provide them with total nutrition. In addition, they can be fed insects and small amounts of fruit and vegetables.

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Final Thoughts

While popcorn can certainly be offered as a treat, it provides little in terms of nutritional value for your hedgehog. More suitable treats include egg, meat, berries, insect, to name a few! Small amounts of popcorn will do no harm. Still, it should be considered only as a very occasional treat, not part of routine treat rotation.


Featured Image Credit: sentraldigital, Pixabay

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