Feeding hedgehogs can be confusing. Besides, their diverse natural diet they consume in the wild is hard to replicate. But what about chicken? Can this, or should this, be fed? Here is what you need to know…
So, can hedgehogs eat chicken? Hedgehogs can eat lean cuts of cooked chicken. They can do so fairly regularly, although fattier cuts, such as thighs and drumsticks and that may also include the skin, should be limited and fed in moderation. Lean chicken is a good source of protein, for which they require around 30% in the diet.
And it does not just stop at chicken.
Hedgehogs can be fed other lean meats, such as turkey breast, lean cuts of beef, and even game – like pheasant, too.
In fact, these kinds of meats are ideal.
They help hedgehogs obtain the protein that they need and may not be otherwise getting in captivity.
Let us now take a closer look at the suitability of chicken in the diet before turning to how to feed it!
If you decided to do so, of course.
Can I Feed My Hedgehog Chicken?
You can feed a hedgehog chicken, so long as you provide lean cuts, and then proceed to cook, prepare and serve it appropriately.
Hence, chicken breast is the best to offer.
Drumsticks, thighs – these are naturally quite high in fat.
And while fat is required in the diet of a hedgehog – it does need to be limited and controlled somewhat.
Experts advise that only 12-15% of the diet should come from fats.
And we have to consider other foods they may be eating – some of which may be contributing to this quota.
And the fattier parts of a chicken are actually relatively fat-dense.
Particularly the skin.
Nevertheless, this does not make chicken entirely unsuitable.
The breast is generally very low in fat.
And, hedgehogs do have a high protein requirement.
They are insectivores by nature, after all.
And lean meats, including chicken, are an ideal source of protein and various amino acids.
Now to keep it lean, the chicken, of course, needs to be boiled or baked -no frying in butter or other oils here.
With those caveats out the way, you may be wondering how often this meat can be fed.
Let’s find out!
How Often Should Hedgehogs Eat Chicken?
Hedgehogs can be fed a small amount of cooked chicken per day if required. However, the chicken should contribute to the diet and not be the only food provided and source of nutrition.
And here is why.
Chicken lacks one essential component that hedgehogs need.
Chitin is the fibrous exoskeleton of insects.
And as you can imagine, they consume quite a lot of it in the wild as insectivores.
A pet hedgehog will naturally consume a lot less unless grubs and insects are prioritized and provided.
This is not normally the case unless you are aware of this essential fact.
While it is true that fiber can be provided as a substitute, in reality, it is not as good as the real thing.
So, half a chicken breast, along with some carefully sourced insects (they should never be caught and fed as these can include toxins), some fruit and vegetables, and perhaps some cat or dog food here and there is a good place to start.
This should help them to quite comfortably meet their nutritional needs.
Hedgehogs thrive on a diet of variety, after all.
Of course, the age, size, and activity of the hedgehog should be taken into account for specific serving sizes.
But when it comes to serving – well, you can do this once or twice per day.
Around twilight is ideal; as nocturnal animals, this is when they are awake and this is close to the time that they arise.
Otherwise, early morning is the next best thing.
How Do You Feed Hedgehogs Chicken?
It is advised to cut up some cooked chicken breast into small and manageable pieces when feeding hedgehogs chicken. You want it to be easy for them to consume, so placing this into a small, shallow food dish will also help.
First and foremost, it’s important that you source some fresh chicken. It should not have spoiled nor have begun to discolor or smell off.
It could be bought pre-cooked, or you can look to cook the chicken at home.
If you are cooking it yourself, be sure to boil or bake it.
Either way, be sure the chicken is not seasoned in any way and plain.
And before cooking, take off any skin, remove any bones and stick to the leaner cuts – generally the breast.
Once you have cooked the chicken – let it sufficiently cool.
Then proceed to slicing the chicken into small chunks.
Put it in a bowl and then place it down for your hedgehog.
After they look to have finished, or if any is left in the serving bowl, be sure to take away and dispose of the leftovers.
It should not remain out, nor should it be reserved later.
This is why serving less is advised.
Remember, these are small animals and do not need to consume a lot.
Half, or less, of one chicken breast, will usually suffice.
You may want to consider mixing the chicken in with some other foods – such as a cat or dog food or offering it alone.
When first introducing chicken to the diet of your hedgehog, be sure to offer small amounts.
It’s also advised to only introduce chicken and not other foods at the same time.
This way, you can see how your hedgehog responds; do they like it, or is it causing any adverse reactions?
This way, you’ll be able to tell.
Hedgehogs can eat chicken, along with a number of other meats.
That being said, lean chicken and lean meat are preferable.
Particularly if you are feeding a pet hedgehog.
Wild hedgehogs, as natural foragers, expend a lot of energy when looking for food.
So they can get away with a little added fat in the diet to replace it.
The same cannot be said for a pet hedgehog – who are relatively inactive and given the food they need.
And you need to be careful.
Hedgehogs love to eat and can put on excess weight easily.
So, stick to the leaner cuts, and always remove the skin and darker-colored meat before offering.
That is, of course, unless you are feeding a wild hedgehog that stops by for a visit.
Either way, chicken is an excellent protein source.
Just do not forget that insects such as crickets (for protein, vitamins, and fiber) or a source of fiber still must be obtained.