Bread is a staple food baked from a dough made with flour and water. Once baked, it can be toasted and served at various temperatures. Bread can be dipped into liquids such as soups, used to make sandwiches, or topped with spreads such as butter and jam. It is also used as an ingredient to make other dishes like the usage of breadcrumbs to make crunchy crusts, seasoned bread to stuff roasted turkey in, and bread to make bread puddings. Another use of bread is to bind sausages and meatballs. This article, however, examines the possibility of feeding bread to hedgehogs.
CAN HEDGEHOGS EAT BREAD?
No, hedgehogs should not eat bread. They do not have a digestive system that enables them to digest it effectively; this applies to all existing varieties of bread, from sourdough to whole wheat. Now you may be wondering why this is the case. Also, bread has little nutritional benefits for hedgehogs and fills their bellies, which prevents them from being able to consume more nutritious foods. Thus, it is advisable to keep bread away from hedgehogs.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF FEEDING BREAD TO HEDGEHOGS?
Bread is not healthy for hedgehogs. Although there might be no extreme reactions as soon as a hedgehog consumes bread, the more they eat it, the worse the situation will become for them. The following reasons show how harmful bread can be to hedgehogs.
Inadequate nutritional benefitsHedgehogs are insectivores or omnivores by nature. This means they have specific, needed, and required nutrients such as carbohydrates, fiber, proteins, vitamins, minerals, fat, and water. These nutrients should be in the proposed ranges for a hedgehog to remain healthy. For instance, Fats should be between 5-15% of their diet, fiber should be at least 15%, and proteins should be above 20-25%.
Bread is not to be served to hedgehogs because it cannot meet the nutritional needs of a hedgehog. Apart from the whole wheat bread, other types of bread do not offer any beneficial nutrition to a hedgehog. Despite this, the whole wheat bread should still not be eaten by hedgehogs because the bread will only make hedgehogs too full to consume other food items that are more nutritious and healthy for them.
Sicknesses and diseases
Bread is hazardous for hedgehogs and might not necessarily kill them, but it can cause dangerous sicknesses that are hard to cure. It can cause digestive and heart diseases that can become much bigger problems in the future. This is because hedgehogs are not able to digest bread well.
Bread has a high level of wheat in it, and this means that the fiber contained in bread is more in quantity when compared to what is needed by a hedgehog. This causes them to have trouble whenever they chew and digest bread, no matter how tiny the pieces of bread are.
It contains gluten
Bread contains gluten, a kind of protein that gives the dough an elastic texture. Though humans digest gluten without little or no stress, hedgehogs cannot do the same. The gluten that bread contains damages the lining of the intestine and prevents nutrient absorption. It is also a common cause of diarrhea, stomach pain, and bloating. Thus for hedgehogs, they shouldn't feed on bread to prevent the not-so-positive side effects.
It is high in carbohydratesBread is high in carbohydrates; just one slice of bread contains about 13 grams of carbohydrates. The body of a hedgehog breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which leads to an increase in blood sugar levels. Eating food items that are outrageously high in carbohydrates can quickly increase their blood sugar levels and body weight. High carbohydrate diets can also be associated with diabetes.
It may contain anti-nutrientsBread is a product of flour, which is a product of grains. Generally, grains harbor anti-nutrients; these are some compounds that block the body of hedgehogs from taking in certain minerals. Grains are popularly high in phytic acid- a kind of molecule linked with zinc, magnesium, and calcium, and prevent a hedgehog from absorbing these nutrients. These anti-nutrients can contribute to serious nutritional deficiencies.
DOES BREAD KILL HEDGEHOGS?
Yes, bread can kill a hedgehog if too much of it is consumed at once or over some time because consumption of bread could lead to nutritional deficiencies. Thus, the consumption of bread can be dangerous both short and long term.
SHORT TERM: Bread can kill hedgehogs in numerous ways. A lump of bread might get stuck in their throats which might be a trigger for suffocation. If hedgehogs consume stale bread, it could cause serious illness. If this illness does not immediately kill them, it will lead to complications that could kill them. At the same time, feeding bread to hedgehogs could attract vermin, which is known to aid the spread of diseases.
LONG TERM: If bread is consumed by hedgehogs, in the long run, they soon become malnourished, and malnourishment makes them much more prone to other pathogens and diseases. Also, malnourishment reduces their quality of life drastically. Thus, hedgehogs should not consume bread irrespective of the quantity because it can be dangerous and kill them eventually.
Hedgehogs have a very strained natural diet. They will benefit more from eating food items containing high levels of proteins; however, hedgehogs can occasionally consume a special treat. Although they can enjoy treats, these treats should not be bread because bread does not have any nutritional benefits for hedgehogs. Bread can be very problematic for hedgehogs because their digestive system does not aid the digestion of bread. Hedgehogs need fiber, fat, and protein, and bread does not contain these nutrients in the quantity that hedgehogs need to meet their requirements.
If the proper steps for giving hedgehogs treats are taken advantage of, they can learn to accept different kinds of foods. It is commendable to break down the hard vegetables and fruits so that they become easier to chew. It is also advisable to introduce just one new treat per week to hedgehogs and only give them treats at least twice a week to prevent unnecessary weight gain.