Different species of hedgehogs live on various diets. Hedgehogs are either wild or domesticated; the wild hedgehogs feed on insects most of the time, while the domesticated ones often have a moderated diet that includes fruits and vegetables; The general fact, however, is that all hedgehogs love insects; although hedgehogs can survive without food or water for a long time; if they have to
CAN HEDGEHOGS EAT ANTS?
Yes, hedgehogs can eat ants; however, the question should not be based on if they can eat ants but on if they should be allowed to eat ants. It is not recommendable for hedgehogs to be fed ants. Insects caught in the wild should not be given to hedgehogs because the insects could have parasites, chemicals, and pesticides, that might not have affected them yet but will eventually be harmful to the hedgehog. Another reason hedgehogs should not be fed ants is that ants are very irrepressible; because of how strong they are, they could bite the hedgehog’s tongue while the hedgehog is trying to chew/swallow them. Although wild hedgehogs feed on various insects such as ants, the diet of domesticated hedgehogs should be very different from the wild ones.
DO ANTS HAVE ANY NUTRITIONAL VALUE?
The nutritional value of insects depends on the specie of insect; Ants, however, are high in fiber, protein, and vitamins. The larvae and eggs of weaver ants provide around 7 grams of protein per 100 grams, black ants contain 40–45 grams of protein per 100 grams, while adult leaf-cutting ants contain 42-53 grams of protein per 100 grams. Ants also serve as a source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. The most common type of fiber in an ant is chitin and, is gotten from its external skeleton. Chitin is essential to the diet of a hedgehog. Ants are also huge providers of animal protein. In general, edible ant species are safe to eat. They are not more harmful than other animal products and should be processed and stored just like every other food; however, not all ants are edible; this is because inedible ants like fire and jack jumper ants; possess organs that produce poison.
WHAT DO WILD HEDGEHOGS EAT?
Wild hedgehogs eat small animals in the forest, although they prefer to feed on insects and other invertebrates. They feed on earwigs, beetles, butterflies, and moths. They also feed on insects and small animals like worms, caterpillars, millipedes, snails, mealworms, earthworms, slugs, and mice, although they do not mind eating insects that sting or bite like ants and wasps. Although wild hedgehogs prefer to feed on invertebrates, they sometimes eat vertebrates like frogs, lizards, and snakes. Occasionally, wild hedgehogs can eat nuts, fruit, and leafy plants. The insects included in the diet of a wild hedgehog might appear to be similar to those found in the diet of a domesticated hedgehog; however, the main difference is the quantity eaten. Wild hedgehogs are responsible for hunting their meals; they use up a lot of energy which makes them almost immune to obesity; domesticated hedgehogs do not use up a lot of energy, hence, they could eat smaller quantities of food to prevent obesity. In other words, the insects that make up the most of a wild hedgehog’s diet could only be treats for domestic hedgehogs.
WHAT SHOULD DOMESTICATED HEDGEHOGS EAT?
The diet of a domesticated hedgehog should be high in protein and low in fats. Domesticated hedgehogs can be fed commercial foods specially made for hedgehogs or high-quality cat food. Cat food is a good option because it is easy to find, there are many options to choose from, and it usually contains better quality ingredients than processed hedgehog food. Dry cat food is better because it has more fiber content, and fiber is essential to the hedgehog’s diet. It is advisable to talk to a veterinarian who can recommend a particular cat food for your hedgehog. Food items that contain a lot of fat and are fried, spicy, or salty might not be advisable for domesticated hedgehogs. Some recommendable foods that are very nutritious to them include lean meats, dog food, quality hedgehog food, boiled or scrambled eggs, and some fruits and vegetables. They should not eat food items that are hard to chew like nuts, seeds, or raw carrots because they can choke the hedgehog or get stuck in their teeth. Domesticated hedgehogs are prone to obesity, so it is not advisable to overfeed them. Dehydration is one of the symptoms of stress in a hedgehog, so it is necessary to keep your hedgehog well hydrated; it would be commendable to make clean and fresh water available for them at intervals. Domesticated hedgehogs are very sensitive to chlorine, so it might be recommendable to give them water in a bottle.
WHAT INSECTS SHOULD DOMESTICATED HEDGEHOGS EAT?
Just like wild hedgehogs, domesticated hedgehogs love to eat insects. Different species of insects like super worms, earthworms, silkworms, mealworms, wax worms, crickets, and roaches are recommendable for hedgehogs. These insects should be given to them in different varieties as possible. The insects eaten by domesticated hedgehogs should be purchased commercially rather than wild-caught to prevent the transmission of parasites, chemicals, and pesticides from the insects to the hedgehog.
Hedgehogs are immune to many toxins that permit them to consume toxic creatures. Despite this fact, it would be nice to note the existence of diverse effects if they eat the wrong diets. Allowing hedgehogs to eat ants means they will also consume the bacteria content in the ant, which may lead to parasite ingestion. There are three ways to feed insects to hedgehogs:
- They might eat live insects,
- They can eat frozen or dried insects
- They can also eat canned insects.
Hedgehogs are very selective with food and prefer meals with high calories, so insects and other treats high in calories are advisable in small quantities. It is also advisable to watch a hedgehog’s response to different food types before including them in its diet. If a hedgehog shows signs of discomfort after eating a particular food, cease giving that food to it.