You might be enjoying sunny weather with your pet hedgehog in the garden. But then, if out of curiosity your hedgie takes a bite of grass, a question might come to your mind: can hedgehogs eat grass?Hedgehogs can eat grass but it is not recommended to let them eat it. The digestive system of a hedgehog is not suitable to digest grass and the grass can contain pesticides and insecticides harmful to the hedgehog.
© Photo by Pixabay from PexelsContinue reading till the end to know more about whether or not it will be okay for your hedgie to eat grass, the reason why your hedgie should not eat grass, how to stop it from eating grass, and some other related topics.
Is It Okay for Hedgehogs to Eat Grass?
As a general rule, if hedgehogs eat small amounts of grass then there won’t be any issues. However, if they consume a large amount of grass, then the grass can cause blockage in their intestinal tract. Also, grass may contain harmful chemicals so it is not good to feed grass to the hedgehogs.https://youtu.be/znvVIpzfgfQ
Reasons Why Hedgehogs Shouldn’t Eat Grass:
Hedgehogs are Mainly Insectivorous
In the wild, hedgehogs do consume a variety of foods and they are also regarded as omnivorous animals, which means they can eat plants as well as animals.However, the hedgehog breed that we keep as pets in our home is the African Pygmy. The diet of such hedgehogs will vary from the wild hedgehogs since they are hybrid and domesticated.The hedgehogs from which our pet descended only lived 2-3 years in the wild. But now the captive-bred hedgehogs are usually living longer than that period. On average, they live around 3-5 years.If proper care is taken then hedgehogs can live around 5 years and some can even live longer than 8 years.It is, for this reason, that we do not try to mimic the diet of a wild hedgehog because the hedgies seem to live well on the foods we feed them. Then why change this, right?Having said that, the hedgehogs in our home are insectivorous and they will require proper nutrients, which may not be fulfilled by general pet foods.As per sciencedirect.com, insectivores are small, or medium-sized mammals, that have characteristic teeth and long snouts which are well adapted to catch and cut the insects.Now you might be thinking, why do hedgehogs mostly feed on insects? Well, the straight answer to that is because they are insectivores and they are able to digest the chitin that comes from the exoskeleton of the insects.In hedgehogs, the teeth have a lot of sharp, pointed cusps that fit into the opposing teeth and work just like a pestle and a mortar.In short, it can be said that animals like hedgehogs are well adapted to eating insects. The chitin actually helps in providing protein and fiber to your hedgehog.But remember that chitin alone won’t be enough to fulfill the nutritional needs of your pet. You have to feed your hedgehogs all the necessary items and give them a completely healthy diet.
Hedgehogs’ Digestive System Isn’t Suitable for Eating Grass
Now, though hedgehogs may eat grass, and despite the fact that hedgehogs are also considered omnivorous, the digestive system of a pet hedgehog is not suited well to eating grass.Digestion is basically the process of breaking down complex parts into simpler absorbable components. In the case of hedgehogs, their digestive system actually lacks the chemicals that are necessary to break down grass.In the case of herbivore animals who eat grass and plants such as cows, sheep, goats, etc. They actually have rows of wide flat teeth for chewing grass, leaves, and other plant parts.But, the teeth and the body system of a hedgehog are not evolved to eat and digest grass. We already discussed that the hedgehog’s teeth are like sharp-pointed cusps and their body system is more adapted to an insectivore.
Grass Acts More Like A Filler In A Hedgehog’s Diet
© Photo by Hans-Olof Andersson on UnsplashAnother important reason why grass should not be a part of the hedgehog’s diet is that they aren’t really a part of your hedgehog’s natural diet.Furthermore, the grass is just like a filler in your hedgie’s diet and it’s not going to do much from a nutritional standpoint.It will rather prevent your cute hedgie from eating anything else, and thus it may result in nutritional deficiencies.
Harmful Insecticides and Pesticides Can Be Present in Grass
If you have taken your hedgehog outside of your home and let it sit on a lawn, then your curious hedgehog might walk around. It might start nipping at the grass leaves. But the thing is, you might have sprayed insecticides and pesticides on your grass.As per britishhedgehogs.org.uk, pesticides are dangerous to hedgehogs. Since the chemicals that are used in gardens and lawns can be unhealthy for the hedgehog, you should not let your hedgehog ingest such harmful chemicals. Now, even though you don’t spray any kind of harmful chemicals on your lawn, if your neighbor sprays the chemical on the nearby lawn, then some amount of chemicals might come from the air and settle on the grass of your lawn, which your hedgehog might be munching upon.Hence, it is not good to let your hedgehog eat grass, and you should monitor your hedgehog whenever you bring them to a garden.
Grass Can Block Your Hedgehog’s Intestine Tract
Now, if your hedgehog eats small amounts of grass once in a while then it won’t be any major issue.However, if your hedgehog keeps on munching a lot of grass, then it may cause the intestinal tract of your hedgehog to get blocked.Although this won’t likely happen if you are attentive and don’t allow your hedgie to consume a lot of grass. But still, if it occurs then it can really be a serious concern as surgery can also be required to remove the blockage.
Why is My Hedgehog Eating Grass?
Hedgehogs eat grass because they can be curious and they will try to lick, touch or chew anything new that they come across. Also, it may be accidentally eating grass while munching other insects present in the grass.Hedgehogs are omnivorous but they are mainly insectivorous as discussed earlier. However, when you take your hedgehog outdoors then, out of curiosity it might start exploring various things.And in this cute exploration, it might start licking or nipping the grass. Another reason could be your hedgehog has found some insect or worm, which it is trying to eat but accidentally it is also eating the grass.Moreover, plants have also been suggested, albeit unconvincingly, as a source of water for hedgehogs. It is also said that hedgehogs obtain water from their prey. If your hedgehog is thirsty, then water sources like puddles can be really a boon for these cute animals. Due to this fact, you should always offer an adequate amount of water when offering food to your hedgehog.
How to Stop the Hedgehog from Eating Grass?
© Photo by Ralph from PexelsTo stop your hedgehogs from eating grass, you can divert their attention by taking them up, cuddling them, or letting them engage with things other than the grass. Alternatively, you can use things like empty baby pools and put your hedgehogs in them.Or you can do anything else by which you can divert the attention of your hedgehog.If your hedgehog is slow then it might not be a great concern for you if it gets out of your sight. But some hedgehogs can be good runners. And if your hedgehog is also a great runner, then it will only be a matter of moments before you will leave your hedgehog in the garden and can’t get the sight of it later on.So in such a case, keeping your hedgehog in a baby pool might be a suitable option for you.
What Can I Feed My Hedgehogs in a Garden?
Hedgehogs can eat apples, bananas, berries, melons, fresh tomatoes, fresh green beans, wax worms, mealworms, and crickets. However, starchy vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and corn should be avoided.In general, you can also feed your hedgehog high protein but a low-fat canned dog or cat food in small amounts. Along with that, you can also add a pre-killed pinky mouse to your hedgehog’s diet.You can occasionally give them scrambled or hard-boiled eggs as well. And of course, you should not forget to feed your hedgehog a high-quality hedgehog or cat kibble, which should actually form the bulk portion of your hedgehog’s diet.
In short, hedgehogs can eat grass and it won’t be much of an issue generally.But there are risks such as ingesting large amounts of grass can block the intestinal tract. Moreover, the grass may have harmful chemicals, insecticides, and pesticides. And on top of that, the grass is not well suited to the diet of hedgehogs because their digestive system is not adapted to it. Hence, because of all these reasons, it is advised to not allow your hedgehog to eat grass.