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Can Hedgehogs Eat Strawberries? What You Need to Know!

strawberries close up

Hedgehogs primarily eat a diverse selection of insects such as mealworms, small amounts of plant materials, and even small mammals like pinkie mice. This makes hedgehogs carnivorous, and they will rarely eat sweeter foods like fruit. However, strawberries are safe for hedgehogs and can make a tasty nutritious treat on occasion.

If you do plan on feeding strawberries to your hedgehog, it is important to ensure that their diet is perfected and balanced before introducing new foods that are considered as ‘treats’.

divider-hedgehog

What Do Hedgehogs Eat In The Wild?

Hedgehogs are obligated omnivores, or more precisely referred to as insectivores. This is because most of the hedgehog’s diet consists of insect-based proteins which they retrieve from eating both soft and hard-bodied insects like worms, beetles, earwigs, millipedes, and caterpillars. To further supplement their dietary needs, hedgehogs will eat frogs, baby birds, and their eggs, as well as fallen fruit.

Approximately 80% of a hedgehog’s diet should consist of protein, and the other 20% should consist of plants (daisy, dandelion, yarrow), and taking advantage of fruits that have fallen from a bush or vine such as peaches, berries, apples, and pears.

Hedgehogs find it difficult to digest vegetable fibers, which makes it important that they primarily feed on insects and meat and only eat plant matter when the opportunity presents itself.

hedgehog on grass
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

What Do Hedgehogs Eat-In Captivity?

Feeding hedgehogs in captivity has been made easy by a wide range of high-quality commercial hedgehog foods. These balanced diets (typically in pellet form) consist of combined proteins, carbohydrates, and fat contents that are like the nutritional content a hedgehog would receive in the wild.

Although hedgehogs’ owners do not have to go to much trouble by providing their pets with an abundance of insects and other live animals, these foods should ideally be fed as supplements. No matter how nutritionally balanced a commercial hedgehog diet may seem, they should still eat a large portion of foods they would naturally encounter in the wild.

These dietary supplements include gut-loaded feeder insects such as crickets and mealworms which can be found at exotic pet stores, as well as boiled eggs, soft-bodied fruits, and fresh vegetables.

Before adding supplements into your hedgehog’s diet, you should first calculate how much nutrition they are receiving from their pellet diet, this includes analyzing the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that have been added. A good hedgehog food will contain insects, meat, with fruit and vegetables being last on the ingredients list.

Hedgehog Eating
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

Can Hedgehogs Eat Fruits?

Now that we have discovered what a hedgehog is typically fed in the wild and captivity, we can get a good understanding of their basic nutritional requirements, which do indeed include fruits.

There are small traces of nutrients that hedgehogs receive from fruits, which include vitamin A, C, and antioxidants known as polyphenols. This concludes that not only do hedgehogs actively seek out fruit as part of their wild diet, but they can benefit from eating them in their captive diet as well with a few issues.

Keep in mind that although hedgehogs can eat fruit, it should be rarely fed. The main issue that hedgehog owners need to keep in mind when planning out their hedgehog’s diet is that these creatures are not designed to digest plants (which include fruits and veggies). Feeding your hedgehog an excess of sugary fruits will do more harm than good.

Strawberries make a popular sugary snack for many captive hedgehogs, and this fruit is both healthy and tasty for your hedgehog. Aside from strawberries, you can offer your hedgehog other berries and pip fruits such as raspberries, blueberries, mango, banana, and peaches.

Pros and Cons To Feeding Your Hedgehog Strawberries

The advantages to feeding your hedgehog strawberries greatly outweigh the negatives. It is a good idea to compare the pros and cons list to determine whether this is the type of fruit you want to feed your hedgehog.

Pros
  • Source of antioxidants
  • Part of a hedgehog’s natural diet
  • High in Vitamin A and C
  • Sweet taste that hedgehogs enjoy
  • Lower sugar content than other fruits
  • Replenishes minerals
  • Helps to combat minor dehydration symptoms
Cons
  • Difficult to digest
  • Dried strawberries are too sugary
  • Not ideal as a daily food replacement
  • Must be fed in combination with other fruits
  • May cause gastrointestinal issues (such as diarrhea) since hedgehog’s struggle to digest the cellulose in plants
strawberries
Image Credit: Pixabay

Types of Strawberries That Are Safe for Hedgehogs

The types of strawberries commonly found in grocery stores for human consumption are safe for hedgehogs. Hedgehogs may be more enticed by the sweet and juicy flavor of the Honeoye or Allstar strawberry but will avoid the little flavor that the mock Indian strawberry produces.

Nearly all strawberries are edible for hedgehogs, but the most beloved varieties are the sparkle, Earliglow, Fairfax, Marshall, Tristar, and Mara des Bois varieties. The label on the strawberries packaging will help you determine the variety of strawberries you are feeding your hedgehog.

If you are wanting to feed your hedgehog strawberries straight from a bush you are growing or found, then you need to ensure that it has not come in contact with chemicals, dog and cat urine, and bird dropping. You should ideally avoid picking strawberries for your hedgehog if you find a bush in a local area where dogs and humans frequently walk. The same applies to strawberries that grow near roads, as they are usually contaminated with exhaust fumes, urban dust, weed killers, and other forms of motor vehicle car fumes.

Northern White-Breasted Hedgehog
Image Credit: Marcus Molinder, Pixabay

To sum it up, these are the most common and frequently fed strawberries for hedgehogs that are safe:

  • Honeoye
  • Ozark beauty
  • Chandler
  • Tristar
  • Seascape
  • Jewel
  • Earliglow

How To Prepare Strawberries for Your Hedgehog

There are two essential steps to consider before feeding your hedgehog strawberries. The main point to consider is whether the strawberry has been organically grown since these strawberries are more flavourful, nutritious, and long-lasting in comparison to the genetically modified varieties.

The second important consideration is the pesticides and herbicides that have been used. Most local labeling systems will clarify what types of chemicals they have used to aid in the strawberry’s growth, so be wary of packaging that does not state this.

strawberries in a cup
Image Credit: Piqsels

Chemicals that are present in weed killers, slug or snail repellents, and even common pesticides such as Pyraclostrobin can have detrimental effects on your hedgehog’s health since these chemicals build up in their system which can lead to metaldehyde poisoning, however, this is very rare in most healthy adult hedgehogs.

Once you have ensured that the strawberry lacks large amounts of chemicals and hormones used to speed up the agricultural process, you can begin preparing the strawberry for your hedgehog. This process is short and easy, with only a few steps involved.

  • Step 1: Soak the entire strawberry in baking soda for about 20 to 30 minutes to draw out dirt and chemicals that may be sitting on the skin of the fruit.
  • Step 2: Give the strawberry a good rinse and scrub with your fingers to remove any chemical or baking soda residue.
  • Step 3: Cut the leafy top part of the strawberry off, to make the digestion process easier for your hedgehog. You want to avoid overloading their systems with more cellulose than they can handle to minimize potential digestive issues. Although, hedgehogs can safely eat the leafy parts without much problem.
  • Step 4: Ensure that the strawberry is proportional to your hedgehog’s size. A large adult hedgehog can eat one small strawberry, whereas a small or young hedgehog will need half the size.
  • Step 5: This is an additional step but cutting the strawberries into medium-sized quarters can make it easier for your hedgehog to eat.

You can feed your hedgehog a fresh, organic strawberry up to three times a month depending on their overall captive diet. It is best to keep the fruity treats to a limit and avoid dried strawberries and fruit as they are high in sugar and lack the nutrients found in fresh strawberries.

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Final Thoughts

If fed properly, then strawberries can make a great addition to your hedgehog’s diet. Always ensure that your hedgehog is not consuming too little pellets and insects in favor for fruits like strawberries, as this will only lead to poor nutrition practices over time. Moderation is key when it comes to feeding hedgehogs sweet fruits.

Hedgehogs seem to love this delicacy and ensuring that your hedgehog receives their monthly intake of fruits will help to fuel your hedgehog with vital antioxidants and vitamins.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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