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Do Hedgehogs Eat Poop? What You Need to Know!

hedgehog pet

If you are thinking about getting a hedgehog for your home, you might have heard the rumors about them eating their poop and want to know if it’s true. Unfortunately, it is true. Your hedgehog will eat its poop. If you are interested in why your pet might do this and if it’s healthy for them, keep reading while we look for answers to these questions so you can understand your pet better and keep your pet healthy and happy.divider-hedgehog

Why Does My Hedgehog Eat Poop?

hedgehog eye_Alexas Fotos_Pixabay
Image Credit: Alexas Fotos, Pixabay

The main reason your hedgehog will eat its poop is that it is its instinct to do so. Several animals eat their poop, including the rabbit, hare, squirrels, and chickens, and they each do it for the same reason, to get more nutrients. Sometimes hedgehogs don’t get enough nutrition from the food because it has a short digestive tract that doesn’t break down the food efficiently, which will cause them to eat their poop. As the food passes through the digestive system the second time, it will be much easier for your pet to digest.

It’s perfectly safe and natural for your pet to eat poop as long as it’s not from another animal and there are no other signs of an illness.

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What are the Signs My Hedgehog is Sick?

Gastrointestinal Problems

One of the most common health problems that hedgehogs face is gastrointestinal problems caused by salmonella or other harmful bacteria. Symptoms that your pet has a gastrointestinal issue are a refusal to eat, leading to dehydration and even death if not treated. Therefore, if your pet doesn’t eat for more than a couple of days, we highly recommend taking it to the vet to get looked over.

Respiratory Illness

Another problem common in hedgehogs is respiratory illnesses. Signs that your pet is suffering from a respiratory illness include a runny nose, sneezing, and difficulty breathing.  One of the most common causes of respiratory problems in hedgehogs is a bacteria that also causes kennel cough in dogs, so many experts recommend keeping these animals separate.

hedgehog_congerdesign, Pixabay
Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

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What Do Hedgehogs Eat?

If you feed your pet a nutritious diet, it will be less likely to eat its poop. Foods that are easy for your hedgehog to digest include crickets and mealworms. This food is nutritious and provides chitlin, a special protein only found on insects with hard shells. You can purchase this food alive or frozen, but we recommend using live food because it will activate the hedgehog’s hunting instincts and provide your pet with mental stimulation. You can also gut-load live insects to improve the quality of nutrition your pet receives.

Gut Loading

Gut Loading is when you feed the food to make it more nutritious. Since crickets eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables, you can allow your feeder insects to feast on these foods for a day or two before giving them to your pet, and your pet will receive the nutrients.

Cat Food

An alternative or substitute or insets that you can feed your pet is cat food. Since cats are carnivores, their diet is similar to a hedgehog, and both wet and dry cat food is an acceptable choice for your pet. The downside to cat food is that it does not contain chitlin, and you will need to search for brands with a minimum of 30% protein and a maximum of 20% fat.

Fruits and Vegetables

Your hedgehog will eat a wide selection of fruits and vegetables, including bananas, apples, and berries. However, one food you should avoid is avocados because these present a health risk to your pet.

Meat and Eggs

You can feed your hedgehog a small amount of chicken and other meats along with eggs, as long as it’s cooked to eliminate any salmonella.

hedgehog wild_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

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How Much Food Should My Hedgehog Eat?

Hedgehogs are prone to obesity, so you will need to control portioning carefully. Most experts recommend limiting the amount of food you serve to no more than two teaspoons of kibble each day, along with one teaspoon of fresh fruits, vegetables, and gut-loaded insects. In addition, keep checking your pet’s weight frequently, and if it increases more than about 10%, you are likely feeding your pet too much.

Does My Hedgehog Require Supplements?

No. As long as you provide your pet with a balanced meal of cat kibble, insects, fruits, and vegetables, you should not need to add any supplements to your hedgehog’s diet.

Does My Hedgehog Need Water?

Yes. Your hedgehog will require a constant supply of clean, fresh water to drink. Sipper bottles work perfectly and keep the water from making a mess.

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Image Credit: martakrecsunne, Pixabay

Potty Train Your Hedgehog

It’s not difficult to train your hedgehog to use the litterbox, and it’s a great way to prevent it from eating its poop because you can quickly remove it.

  • Create a litterbox with an entranceway out of a small cardboard box.
  • Add a high-quality cat litter to the box.
  • Add your pet’s feces to the box.
  • Place the litterbox in the corner of the cage or in a convenient area.
  • Watch your hedgehog for several days and if you notice it trying to pee or poop outside the litterbox, carefully place it inside.
  • Your pet will catch on after several tries, and you will be able to remove any poop before it eats it.
  • Unfortunately, some hedgehogs take a long time to train, and a few will never learn, so you will need to be patient.

How to Avoid Getting Poop on Yourself

Some owners complain that when they try to handle their hedgehog, it tends to poop on them. Many animals can get scared when you handle them and relieve themselves on accident. The best way to avoid it is to pick your pet up for short intervals of less than a minute before setting it down in its litterbox for a minute or so. Repeat until your pet makes use of the litterbox, and you should be ok to take it out for a longer time without worry.

hedgehog_Meatle, Pixabay
Image Credit: Meatle, Pixabay

You may also want to know:

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Summary

The hedgehog makes a great pet, but it does tend to eat its poop, especially if it’s not getting enough nutrition. The best way to prevent your pet from eating poop is to feed it a high-quality cat kibble, along with insects, fruits, and vegetables. This food should be more nutritious the first time, so your pet won’t need to send it through a second time. In addition, training your pet to use a litter box will allow you to quickly remove all of the poop before it’s eaten and make it easier to keep the cage clean.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide and found the answers you needed. If we have helped you understand your pet better, please share our look into if hedgehogs eat poop on Facebook and Twitter.

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Featured Image Credit: Alexas Fotos_Pixabay

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