There is a marked difference between the diet of a hedgehog and a guinea pig. While the former is an omnivore, the latter is an herbivore. They might both be cute little mammals, but can a hedgehog eat what guinea pigs eat? Let us find out.
Can hedgehogs eat guinea pig food?
Hedgehogs might be able to eat guinea pig food without any safety issues. However, they might suffer from malnutrition in the end. The nutritional content of an ideal guinea pig diet does not match the nutritional requirements of a hedgehog. So, if a hedgehog is made to live on guinea pig food, it will get sick.
In the rest of this article, we discuss animal food hedgehogs can eat in place of guinea pig food. We also talk about hedgehogs’ diet generally: what they should not eat and what they can eat.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Guinea Pig Food?
The ideal guinea pig diet is expected to contain a lot of high-quality hay. The most preferred types include timothy hay and other hay with low levels of calcium.
Timothy hay contains high levels of fiber and low levels of calcium and phosphorus. However, it has just about 8% protein. Another type of hay guinea pigs eat is orchard hay.
Orchard hay contains significant levels of fiber and about the same level of calcium and phosphorus as timothy hay. However, the protein content stands at about 10-12%.
Going by the two examples above, hedgehogs should not feed on guinea pig food. Guinea pig food cannot meet the nutritional requirements of hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs require protein, dietary fiber, carbohydrates, fat, minerals, vitamins, and water in their diet. Of these nutrients, the protein and fat content are the priority.
The ideal hedgehog diet should provide at least 20% protein and around 10 to 15% fat. But the typical guinea pig food, such as orchard hay and timothy hay, cannot provide that.
While hedgehogs might be able to eat guinea pig food without safety concerns, they will ultimately become malnourished with time. Of course, when this happens, they will become unhealthy.
What Animal Food Can Hedgehogs Eat?
Guinea pig food is not a suitable option for hedgehogs. Fortunately, there are some other animal foods hedgehogs can eat. They include the following:
- High-quality dog food
- High-quality dry cat food
- Specialized hedgehog food
High-Quality Dry Cat Food
Hedgehogs can eat high-quality adult cat food. As long as the product contains high levels of protein and low fat.
The protein-to-fat content of most dry cat food is like that required by an insectivore like hedgehogs. In fact, some breeders recommend dry cat food over specialized hedgehog food.
Avoid kitten food since the fat content is higher than what hedgehogs need. Also, verify the ingredients on the product before getting it for your hedgehog.
You can mix cat food from different top brands. This way, your hedgehog gets an extensive supply of nutrients.
Specialized Hedgehog Food
Some companies make food specifically meant for the hedgehogs’ insectivore nutrition. Of course, since it is specially made for hedgehogs, they can eat it. But it turns out not all specialized hedgehog foods are suitable for all species of hedgehogs.
A good number of breeders would instead opt for cat food. To them, the ingredients in hedgehog food are not topnotch. Interestingly, hedgehog food is not as easy to come by as cat food. It is also more expensive than cat food.
High-Quality Dog Food
You can give hedgehogs dog food as long as the following conditions are satisfied:
- The food does not contain excess sugar.
- The chunks are not too large for hedgehogs to chew.
- The food does not come in preservatives.
- The food is not dog kibble.
- The food does not contain nuts, seeds, or other ingredients that may be harmful to hedgehogs.
What Should You Not Feed Hedgehogs?
Besides guinea pig food, you should not feed the following food items to your hedgehogs:
Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. So, food items like cheese and milk should be avoided. You may give them some yogurt, but only in limited amounts – at most once a week.
The nutritional content of hamster food falls below what hedgehogs need. Besides, hamster food is usually full of sugar. Such sugar levels can cause dental and digestive issues for hedgehogs.
Baby Food With Onion Powder or Citrus
While hedgehogs can eat some types of baby food, those with onion powder or citrus-based ingredients should not be given to them.
To ensure you do not give them such, always verify the ingredients on the baby food before getting it for your hedgehog.
While hedgehogs can eat dog food, dog kibbles are unsuitable for them. Dog kibbles are made of corn, a food item hedgehogs cannot digest. Besides, dog kibbles have a low protein content, and they are chunky.
Hedgehogs might be able to eat some types of cat food. However, they should not eat kitten food. Remember we said hedgehogs need about 10-15% fat? Well, kitten food typically contains more fat than hedgehogs need.
Like guinea pigs, rabbits are herbivores. So, as expected, their diet does not meet up the nutritional requirement of a hedgehog.
Birds typically feed on seeds. But seeds are a no-no for hedgehogs. They could get stuck in the hedgehogs’ teeth and cause dental issues. Seeds may also cause digestive difficulties for hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs cannot eat vegetables like onions, potatoes, mushrooms, and garlic. The said vegetables contain certain substances that are toxic to hedgehogs.
Red Meat and Fatty Meat
The fat content in red meat and fatty meat exceeds what is ideal for hedgehogs. So, you should limit or avoid giving them red meat or fatty meat.
Processed Meat and Raw Meat
You should also avoid giving hedgehogs processed meat and raw meat. Raw meat exposes hedgehogs to infections like salmonella. Processed meat, on the other hand, is of substandard nutritional value.
Hedgehogs are omnivores, so they can eat plant matter, including fruits. However, not all fruits are safe for hedgehogs.
Fruits like avocado, pineapple, grape, raisins, and citrus fruits should be avoided in hedgehogs. They can all cause toxicity in hedgehogs.
Canned Food With Preservatives
When getting any type of food for hedgehogs, avoid those with preservatives. Even if the food itself is okay for hedgehogs under normal circumstances.
Nuts and Seeds
Hedgehogs should stay off all types of seeds and nuts. They can get stuck while the hedgehogs eat them, leading to choking. They can also cause issues with digestion.
The herbivorous diet of guinea pigs is unsuitable for hedgehogs. It will not provide enough protein or fat to meet the hedgehogs’ nutritional needs. Consequently, the hedgehog will end up malnourished and sick, and could possibly die.