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Can Hedgehogs Have Catnip? Is Catnip Safe for Hedgehogs?

Dried green catnip for cats spilling from container

Catnip is a perennial herb that provides a euphoric rush to some cats who sniff it and a calming effect on felines that consume it. The reasons for a cat’s reaction to the plant are not entirely understood, but most researchers believe the compound nepetalactone is responsible for the temporary, energizing effect.

If you have a pet hedgehog, you may have wondered, can hedgehogs have catnip? Although catnip is not known to be toxic to hedgehogs, it does not need to be introduced to the animals’ diet. A small portion of dried catnip or fresh leaves will not harm your pet, but too much could cause digestive problems and lead to diarrhea or vomiting.

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Are Catnip Toys Safe for Hedgehogs

hedgehog in a towel
Image Credit: Jenn Huls, Shutterstock

Catnip toys designed for cats are safe for your pet hedgehog if the toys stay intact. A damaged toy poses a choking hazard because the stuffing could become lodged in the animal’s throat and block its airways. Luckily, a hedgehog is less destructive than a cat or dog, so they are less likely to rip open a sturdy toy. However, you may have to replace your hedgehog’s toys more often than other pets. If the toy is always in your pet’s enclosure, it’s likely to become soiled with urine and feces. Unlike cats, hedgehogs urinate and defecate whenever and wherever they want.

Are Dog and Cat Treats Safe for Hedgehogs?

High-quality cat and dog treats are safe for hedgehogs, but too many treats can lead to weight increases. High-protein treats that are low in fat and carbohydrates are healthier for your hedgehog than brands with added fillers, preservatives, and plant proteins. If you feed your pet a diet composed of premium hedgehog food and supplement it with fruits, vegetables, and insects, you do not have to provide any commercial pet treats.

As insectivores, hedgehogs prefer eating crickets or mealworms over cat or dog treats. However, it would be best if you only gave your pet insects once or twice a week. If you feed insects to hedgehogs too often, they can become overweight and stop eating their hedgehog food. Insects from your garden or yard may harbor parasites and are unsafe for your pet to consume. You can rely on a pet store for worms and crickets, or you can talk to a hedgehog breeder or veterinarian for tips on keeping insects in your home.

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What to Avoid Feeding Your Hedgehog

hedgehog eating fruit
Image Credit: Luciano de la Rosa, Shurttertock

Twenty years ago, hedgehog food was difficult to locate, and many pet owners relied on cat food to feed their spiny friends. Now, you can find nutritionally balanced commercial food that’s partially made with dried insects and provides plenty of protein. As an addition to your pet’s daily diet, you can give your hedgehog pieces of berries, apples, or melons, but avoid serving dried fruit to the animal.

Dried fruit is challenging for hedgehogs to chew, and the pieces can become lodged in their throats and hinder breathing. If you want to give human-grade treats to your pet, remember that hedgehogs are lactose intolerant and can experience diarrhea if they consume dairy products. You can keep your pet healthy and strong by avoiding these foods:

  • Avocado
  • Bread
  • Onion
  • Crackers
  • Processed food
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Raw meat
  • Raw eggs
  • Grapes and raisins

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Final Thoughts

Feeding catnip to your Hedgehog can disrupt its digestion but allowing it to play with a catnip toy is safe and beneficial. Although some pet owners claim that catnip makes their hedgehogs hyper, no scientific studies have confirmed the herb’s effect on hedgehogs. Scientists know very little about why catnip affects felines, but hopefully, further studies will include other animals like our quilled friends in the experiments. Until more research is conducted, avoid feeding the plant or dried catnip to your pet.


Featured Image Credit: gvictoria, Shutterstock

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