Knowing that they are omnivores, you might want to try feeding ham to your hedgehog. But is this really a good idea? Let us find out.
Can hedgehogs eat ham?
Hedgehogs may be able to eat ham, depending on whether it is cured or uncured. When it is unseasoned, uncured, and cooked appropriately, hedgehogs can eat it.
Although they are omnivorous, processed meat and seasoned meat are unsuitable for hedgehogs. So, when ham is salted or cured, it is unfit for hedgehogs to consume.
Before you go ahead with feeding ham to your hedgehog, you should read the rest of this article. We discuss the benefits of hedgehogs eating ham, the dangers, and much more.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Ham?
Ham can be cured or uncured, and while cured ham is not safe for hedgehogs, uncured ham may pose no issues.
Cured ham is salted for preservation. In some cases, flavors and ingredients may be added to the ham during the curing process.
Curing, when done correctly, hinders the growth of microorganisms. But the salt content and the presence of other ingredients make cured ham unsafe for hedgehogs.
These substances may trigger various diseases in hedgies, including kidney- and heart-related diseases.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Uncooked, Uncured Ham?
No, they should not consume uncooked, uncured ham.
For one, uncooked, uncured ham would be hard to chew for hedgehogs. It typically takes 3 to 5 hours to cook uncured ham until it is soft and tender.
So you can imagine just how tough it would be when chewed raw.
Apart from that, eating uncooked meat will leave the hedgehog at risk of infections. It may cause worm infections like trichinosis. It may also cause bacterial infections like salmonella.
Any of these infections could be devastating.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Cooked, Uncured Ham?
Cooked, uncured ham is safe for hedgehogs to eat.
When preparing an uncured ham for hedgehogs, do not add salt or any other seasoning.
Ensure you cook the ham until it is soft and tender enough for them to chew. When serving it to them, cut it into small, bite-sized pieces.
This way, they will not choke on it.
Health Benefits of Ham to Hedgehogs
Ham is a high-protein and low-fat meal.
In general, hedgehogs need meals with about 20-50% protein and 10-15% fat. Since ham fits the bill, it makes for a good option for them.
Apart from that, ham is relatively low-calorie. Since hedgies are prone to becoming overweight, ham is a good option for their diet.
Ham contains many beneficial minerals, including selenium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Selenium is generally known to reduce the risk of cancer in pets. But apart from that, it may offer some protection against heavy metal toxicity.
Sodium and potassium are essential for the fluid-electrolyte balance in the body. These two minerals are also vital for the proper regulation of electrical activities in the body.
Phosphorus, alongside calcium, regulates bone health.
However, high levels of phosphorus with unequal levels of calcium will cause metabolic bone disorder. So, ensure your hedgehog gets enough of both minerals.
Zinc promotes healthy fur and skin in hedgehogs. It also promotes healthy immune function and the production of enzymes and hormones.
Apart from the minerals mentioned above, ham contains other vitamins, including vitamin B1, B3, B6, and B12.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) plays different roles in the body of a hedgehog, including carbohydrate metabolism, nerve signaling, and muscle contraction.
Deficiency of vitamin B1 will lead to symptoms like partial paralysis, weight loss, impaired growth, and muscle weakness.
Like thiamine, vitamin B3 (niacin) plays a role in carbohydrate metabolism and nerve functions. It is also needed in the production of hormones, protein metabolism, and fat metabolism.
Niacin also helps ensure proper circulation.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) promotes skin, blood, and nerve health in hedgehogs.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) plays a part in metabolism, blood cell formation, tissue regeneration, and wound healing. It also plays a vital role in DNA synthesis.
Alternatives to Ham for Hedgehogs
Hedgehogs should only be given meat with high protein and low fat.
So, apart from ham, the following are some types of meat you can give your hedgehog:
You may also give them fish in moderate amounts.
As long as you only give your hedgehog well-prepared fresh ham (cooked, uncured ham), it should be fine.
Remember, no matter the type of meat you are feeding your hedgehog, do not season it. Do not add salt, oil, or any other ingredient.
Also, never give your hedgehog the processed variant of any type of meat.