Is Your Hedgehog Eating Poop? When To Worry?
Is hedgehog eating poop normal and why does it happen? The most common reason for hedgehog eating poop is lack of nutrition. If their diet is already nutritious, this behavior shouldn’t worry you.
This article will help you understand why hedgehogs eat poop and how to correct it if needed. To do this we are looking at the following topics:
- Possible causes and fixes for hedgehog eating poop
- Should you worry about your hedgehog eating poop
Possible Causes For Hedgehog Eating Poop
When it comes to hedgehog eating poop, the first thing you need to take into consideration is the type of hedgehogs.
For instance, wild European hedgehogs are known to eat poop – their own and other animals’ such as dogs. The reason for that is all the sugars, proteins and partially digested vegetative roughage in it. On the other hand, African Pygmy hedgehogs are bred to be kept as pets and they don’t have the same survival instincts such as the wild hedgehogs.
Before making rash conclusions and panicking, you must explore all the possible causes for your hedgehog eating poop:
- Small digestive system
- Lack of nutrition – this is the most common reason for hedgehog not eating poop
- Lack of fluids – in some cases if your hedgehog is not getting enough fluid, they might eat their poop to try and get the fluids they are missing
- Not feeding enough – if the hedgehog is not getting enough food, they will eat their poop to feed their hunger
- New baby in a new home equals stress – if your hedgehog is stressed for reasons such as new home, it can be eating its poop as a coping mechanism. Just give your hedgehog some space and time
- You’re not cleaning up quick enough – it’s animals’ instinct to eat things that have fallen on the ground and hedgehogs are no exception. If you’re not cleaning the poop quick enough, this might be the reason for you hedgehog eating poop
- Diet change – when changing your hedgehogs diet, it can take some time for them to get used to it. During that period, your hedgehog might engage in the behaviour of eating their poop
- Self-anoinment – if your hedgehog is eating their poop because of self-anoinment this is a normal behaviour. As long as there aren’t any other symptoms, you shouldn’t worry about it
Small Digestive System
When exploring the possible causes for hedgehog eating poop, we must acknowledge that hedgehogs have a small and short digestive system. Therefore, when they consume food, it doesn’t break down fully.
This results in some of the nutrients being pooped out which then can lead to the hedgehog eating poop. Digesting the leftovers the second time around is much easier for your hedgehog.
How To Fix It?
As long as their diet is nutritious, well balanced and there aren’t any other symptoms such as sneezing or runny nose, there is nothing to worry about.
Lack Of Nutrition From Diet
The most common reason for hedgehog eating poop is that they are not getting enough nutrients from their current diet. Many animals engage in this behavior such as rabbits, squirrels, chickens and even dogs.
We already discussed that the hedgehog’s digestive system is short and small which leads to nutrients not being digested and pooped out. However, if your hedgehog’s diet is not nutritious enough or not well balanced, the hedgehog will naturally look to consume more and their poop seems like the perfect source.
This is an issue because hedgehogs should be fed a nutritious diet, otherwise it can result in many health problems in the long run.
How To Fix It?
If your hedgehog eating poop is due to poor diet, the solution is to provide them with high quality and well balanced diet. Once you improve your hedgehogs diet and once they are fully used to it, you’d notice they would eat poop less or completely stop this behavior.
Every animal has different dietary requirements that would keep them healthy and illness free. In the wild, hedgehogs eat primarily insects, small rodents; some fruit and plant matter. By feeding your hedgehog live prey such as crickets and mealworms, you’d be providing mental stimulation and the important chitin that’s found in the exoskeleton of these insects.
To provide your hedgehog with nutritious and well balanced diet, follow the split below:
- High quality cat or hedgehog kibble food – 70%
- Insects such as mealworms and waxworms – 10%
- Fruit and vegetables – 10%
- Cooked meat and eggs – 10%
Kibble hedgehog or cat food will make up most of your hedgehog’s diet. When picking the kibble brand ensure it has at least 30% of protein and no more than 20% of fat. The following brands are highly recommended to feed to your hedgehog.
As already mentioned, hedgehogs eat insects in the wild. But what are the healthiest options?
Mealworms have a good source of protein and chitin. On the other hand, waxworms are quite fatty. Therefore, they should only be offered as an occasional snack.
Another good option are crickets as they are also a good source of chitin.
It’s best to feed your hedgehog live insects and always gut load the insects before giving them to your hedgehog. Gut loading is when you feed the insects nutritious vegetables and fruits before feeding the insect to the hedgehog.
Fruits And Vegetables
Another important part of your hedgehog’s diet are fruit and vegetables. Good options include bananas, apples, berries. Avoid avocados as they are dangerous to hedgehogs.
Meat And Eggs
Other parts of hedgehog’s diet include meat such as chicken and eggs. These must always be cooked.
Learn more about what to feed your pet hedgehog here -> African Pygmy Hedgehog Diet – Fruits Hedgehogs Can Eat
Not Enough Fluids
Your hedgehog needs clean and fresh water to drink. If they are not drinking for whatever reason, it can result in true hedgehog eating poop or drinking urine to get some fluids.
Some hedgehogs won’t be able to figure out how to use water bottles as it it’s not something they have in their natural environment. This can result in dehydration.
How To Fix It?
Observe your hedgehog’s behaviour and if they are struggling to drink from the water supply you have provided. Keep checking if the water levels have changed. If it seems like the hedgehog is not drinking, change the water bottles to a shallow dish instead, something that’s easily accessible.
Not Feeding Enough
Are you feeding your hedgehog enough food? If their food bowl is empty by the morning, then you aren’t feeding enough. And if not getting enough food, it can result in your hedgehog eating poop.
How To Fix It?
Although, not enough food can result in your hedgehog’s eating poop, they are also prone to obesity, so over feeding is also a risk. You must nail just the right amount to feed your hedgehog so they don’t end up eating poop or obese.
It’s recommended to feed your hedgehog no more than 2 teaspoons of kibbles each day, mixed with 1 teaspoon of fresh fruits, vegetables, and gut-loaded insects
To ensure you’re not over feeding your hedgehog, you should track their weight weekly. If their weight increases to more than 10%, you are feeding them too much.
Furthermore, as they eat during the night, it’s important to remove any uneaten food within 24 hours so they don’t sick.
If you have recently changed your hedgehog’s diet it can result in your hedgehog eating poop. This behavior will continue until they are fully used to the new diet. This behavior can be triggered by even the smallest changes in your hedgehog’s diet.
How To Fix It?
If you need to change your hedgehog’s diet, you should do it slowly. Avoid changing their food abruptly. For instance, to start add only small amounts of the new food to the old food and keep increasing the amounts over time.
Another reason for your hedgehog eating poop can be self-anoinment. This is when animals rub themselves in poop and sometimes even eat it.
How To Fix It?
Normally, self-anoinment occurs in the early stages of your hedgehog’s life. If your hedgehog eating poop is due to self-anoinment, you should just wait for them to grow out of it and make sure you clean up the poop quickly.
To learn more about what to expect when looking after a baby hedgehog, click here How To Look After A Baby Hedgehog – Step By Step Guide
Should I Worry About My Hedgehog Eating Poop?
If there are no other symptoms present and their diet is healthy, your hedgehog eating poop is nothing to worry about. Their poop will contain many undigested nutrients and cellulite which is absolutely fine for them to consume.
However, you should worry if your hedgehog is eating other animal’s poop as that can result in an infection.
It seems like pet hedgehogs eating their poop is a real concern amongst owners. In this guide we came to the conclusion that the best way to prevent your hedgehog eating poop is to feed them a high quality, well balanced diet that would provide them with all the nutrients they need.
Furthermore, you must ensure you provide your hedgehog with a fresh water supply and always clean up their poop as quickly as possible so they don’t develop a bad habit of eating it.
Another way to prevent your hedgehog from eating poop is to litter train them.
If your hedgehog is continuing to eat their poop and you notice other symptoms such as sneezing or runny nose, you should take them to an exotic vet.
Frequently Asked Question – FQA
Do Hedgehogs Need Supplements?
As long as you’re feeding your hedgehog a high quality and well balanced diet, they won’t need any supplements or vitamins.
However, if your hedgehog is displaying signs of nutritional deficiency regardless of being fed a high quality diet, you should take them to the vet.
Do Hedgehogs Need Water?
As any other animal, hedgehogs need to be provided with fresh and clean water at all times. You can use sipper bottles or a shallow dish.
If you decide to use sipper bottles or anything similar, you should observe if your hedgehog is actually using the water device. If the water levels stay the same, you might have to introduce something more simple such as a shallow water dish.
To ensure their water stays fresh, you should clean the water dish or sipper bottle. For instance, sipper bottles get easily clogged.