We all buy too much bread. There almost always seems to be too much leftover each week. But can we feed some bread to a hedgehog? Is it safe or beneficial for them to eat? Here is what you should know.
So, can hedgehogs eat bread? Hedgehogs should not eat bread. They are not equipped with a digestive system that enables them to process it effectively. Equally, bread has little nutritional value for hedgehogs and will also fill their stomachs, preventing them from being able to consume other, more nutritious foods.
It seems a shame, really, but that is just how it is.
Besides, bread is not something that you just find casually in the wild.
It is a man-made processed food, after all.
Is it really any surprise that these little mammals simply cannot digest it?
Nevertheless, let us now take a closer look at how problematic this packaged grain can be.
We will then look at some other recommended foods that you can offer instead, which much better deserve their place.
Is Bread Bad For Hedgehogs?
Bread is not particularly good for hedgehogs, and it appears the more they eat, the worse the situation becomes for them. And this is true of all different varieties and types of bread.
From whole wheat through to sourdough, hedgehogs should not eat bread.
Now you may be wondering why this is the case.
Well, it all starts by looking at the dietary needs of a hedgehog.
Hedgehogs are omnivores or insectivores by nature.
Thus, they have specific requirements and needs for specific proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water.
And these should be in particular ranges for a hedgehog to truly thrive.
Protein, for instance, should be above 20-25% of the diet, fats in the 5-15% range.
Fiber also needs to be quite abundant too, at 15% or higher.
Now back to bread.
Bread by itself cannot meet these needs.
Some breads are almost entirely devoid of any real nutrition, at least to a hedgehog.
And others that may seem like they would provide more nutrition, such as whole wheat options, well, they are only likely going to fill a hedgehog’s stomach more.
And this will displace other foods.
A hedgehog will feel full – turning their noses up at other important foods they need to consume – such as live insects, for instance.
Ultimately bread can be bad for hedgehogs – especially if fed regularly.
Does Bread Kill Hedgehogs?
Bread could kill a hedgehog if too much is consumed at once or over a sustained period of time, as consumption of bread could lead to nutritional deficiencies. Thus bread consumption can be dangerous in both the short term and the long term.
In the short term, bread could kill a hedgehog in a variety of ways.
A hard piece could get lodged in their throats, leading to suffocation.
Equally, stale bread can grow mold. If this is then fed to a hedgehog, it could cause a serious illness – and this could immediately kill them or result in complications that could.
And at the same time, the provision of bread could attract vermin that spread disease. This is particularly likely if fed outside and food is not quickly cleaned up.
In the long term, if only bread is provided or is the only food source available, a hedgehog will soon become malnourished.
And malnourishment makes an animal much more susceptible to other diseases and pathogens, not to mention it drastically reduces the quality of life.
Thus, bread – despite appearing relatively benign, can be very dangerous to these mammals.
What Can I Give A Hedgehog To Eat?
At this stage, you may be wondering what you could feed a hedgehog instead.
Well, thankfully, you have plenty of options.
And here is some great news.
Varied diets are considered superior to help meet a hedgehog’s unique and somewhat interesting nutritional requirements.
A variety can come from a mix of blended dry foods or a staple food with several nutritious treats on top to supplement the diet.
Some low-fat meat, low-fat meat like cooked chicken breast or turkey is an excellent choice. These foods are easily digested by hedgehogs.
Live insects are also particularly welcome; in fact, hedgehogs in the wild are believed to eat almost 30-75% of their own body weight in insects per night!
And they eat the entire insect whole too, which provides them with plenty of insect protein (chitin).
On top of this, providing some high-quality dry cat food is another decent option – mainly hard biscuits and small kibble.
Wet cat food can be offered, although you will need to ensure the hedgehog consumes enough fiber through other foods in the diet, and it is put down fresh to ensure it does not spoil.
One thing to consider here is that some hedgehogs love treats, whereas others will only consume their dry, staple food.
It’s something you will need to test and assess.
When doing so, be sure to only offer one new treat at a time.
This way, you can monitor how a hedgehog responds to said treat and consider this going forward.
Bread is not good for hedgehogs.
In fact, it can be very problematic.
Hedgehogs are just not equipped with a digestive system that can handle it.
And even if they could, it still would not suffice.
Bread just does not contain the nutrition to meet their unique needs and requirements.
Instead, these opportunistic insectivores and omnivores need protein, fat, and fiber. And in very specific quantities and types too.
Gluten intolerant? Try bread intolerant.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.