Hedgehogs are omnivores, which means they can eat both plant and animal matter.
While they tend to feed more on insects, they can also eat other animal matter. But can they eat chicken? Let us find out.
Can hedgehogs eat chicken? Yes, hedgehogs can eat chicken.
Chicken meat is one of the various types of lean meat hedgehogs can eat safely.
However, the safety of chicken to hedgehogs depends on the form it is presented: it is best served cooked and unseasoned.
Before you go on to give some chicken to your hedgehog, you should read the rest of this article.
We will cover the benefits to hedgehogs of eating chicken, the risks, and more.
Preparing Chicken for Hedgehogs
While hedgehogs are omnivores, you should not give them just any meat.
The best type of meat to feed hedgehogs is lean meat. Red meat and fatty meat are not okay for them because the ideal hedgehog diet is low-fat.
So, since chicken meat is a type of lean meat, hedgehogs can eat chicken, especially skinless chicken.
However, when offering chicken to hedgehogs, it must be cooked.
Raw chicken may contain salmonella, and if consumed by hedgehogs, they may become infected or become carriers.
If they become carriers of salmonella, you are at risk of getting infected too.
Their droppings, immediate environment, and other things they come in touch with might get infected with the bacteria.
If you come in contact with an compromised surface or area, you might get infected too.
Besides being a carrier, hedgehogs can get salmonellosis too. When they do, they may show any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Mucoid diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Breathing difficulties
If you notice any of the symptoms above, you should get the hedgehog to a veterinarian immediately.
However, in doing so, you should also ensure proper hygiene yourself. Remember, you can get salmonella from the droppings of a hedgehog.
Wash your hands and avoid touching the hedgehog without gloves.
In case you develop symptoms of enteric fever, you should get yourself to a hospital too.
When at the hospital, let the doctor know what happened.
While chicken must be cooked before being fed to hedgehogs, it is best left unseasoned.
Seasoning can be harmful to hedgehogs. The chicken should also not be fried – remember hedgehogs thrive on low-fat diets.
Apart from staying off seasoning and frying, you can also do your hedgehog a solid by only giving it boneless chicken and cutting the chicken meat into smaller chunks.
With boneless chicken, the risk of choking from swallowing a bone is gone.
Also, if the chicken is presented in small chunks, swallowing and chewing become easier for the hedgehog.
Benefits Hedgehogs Get From Eating Chicken
The ideal meal of a hedgehog is expected to offer certain nutrients.
These nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fat, and fiber. Of the said nutrients, the protein and fat contents are particularly vital.
Hedgehogs do well on high protein and low-fat meals, especially those with a protein to fat ratio similar to what they get in the wild.
In general, the ideal hedgehog meal should have about 20-50% protein and 10-15% fat.
Fortunately for hedgehogs, chicken meat just about fits the description of their ideal meal.
Chicken wing, chicken drumstick, and chicken breast all have over 20% protein. Also, the protein content in each type of chicken meat is at least twice the fat content.
Besides protein and fat, hedgehogs may also get some other beneficial nutrients from eating chicken. These nutrients include the following:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
Sodium and potassium contribute to healthy fluid-electrolyte balance.
These minerals sustain the internal and external environments of the cells of a hedgehog.
This way, various physiological processes, such as neuronal transmission, muscle contraction, hormone secretion, and many others keeping functioning.
Vitamin B6 helps with hormonal regulation amongst many other functions. Vitamin B12, on the other hand, is vital for protein synthesis, DNA synthesis, and blood production.
It also acts as a cofactor for many enzymes in the hedgehog’s body.
Magnesium is involved in various metabolic pathways in a hedgehog, including protein synthesis.
Calcium is vital for the transmission of nerve impulses and proper heart rhythm. It also facilitates muscle contraction and is at the center of bone formation.
Risks of Eating Chicken
Chicken is beneficial to hedgehogs, but you should never let them have too much of it.
For one, chicken has no dietary fiber. Hedgehogs have sensitive stomachs, and the absence of dietary fiber in their diet might affect digestion.
Some chicken parts, like chicken skin and chicken wings, have high-fat content. If your hedgehog consumes those parts excessively, it might become obese.
Therefore, you should stick to giving it the less fatty parts like chicken breasts and drumsticks.
Besides all this, hedgehogs stand a risk of suffering salmonellosis if fed raw chicken or undercooked chicken.
So ensure the chicken is cooked thoroughly, is not fried, and is without seasoning.
With bony chickens, hedgehogs are at risk of choking. This is why boneless chicken is a more suitable alternative.
Then again, if you give your hedgehog large chunks of chicken to feed on, chewing and swallowing might be a problem. But you can avoid this by giving them smaller pieces.
Other Lean Meats Hedgehogs Can Eat
Besides chicken, hedgehogs can eat the following types of lean meat:
- Lean Beef
The best type of meat you can give a hedgehog is lean meat.
Since chicken (especially skinless chicken) is lean, hedgehogs can eat it.
As long as it is cooked without frying or seasoning, chicken is okay for hedgehogs.