If you have hedgehogs regularly visiting your garden, or if you have your own pet hedgehog, you maybe want to know the answer to the question can hedgehogs eat pumpkin? I regularly leave food out for different animals in the garden, and so wanted to know this too.
So can hedgehogs eat pumpkin? The quick answer to this is no, hedgehogs cannot eat pumpkin. The reason for this is that it can leave them with bloated stomachs and diarrhoea. This can lead to dehydration. This is life threatening for an animal that needs to build up reserves of food internally to hibernate for the winter.
So there you have it. The short answer to the question of can hedgehogs eat pumpkin is no. This does seem like a rather odd question, but believe me it does get searched for on the internet. I also found that people ask other random hedgehog questions such as can hedgehogs attack humans?
I’ve gone into some more detail below about exactly why you can’t feed hedgehogs pumpkin below, with some information about what else they can’t eat, and what you can feed them if you want to. Read on to find out more.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Pumpkin?
The easiest and quickest answer to the question can hedgehogs eat pumpkin is that they should not. Of course they could, it’s just not good for them. It is bad for a hedgehogs stomach, and can cause bloating and diarrhoea. If you want to add more foods to their diet you can feed a hedgehog rice safely.
People tend to feed hedgehogs for a couple of reasons. Firstly, most of the different types of hedgehogs are in steady decline these days, due in large part to the increase in both residential and commercial developments in many areas.
Food can sometimes be in short supply for these animals, and for this reason they will eat pretty much most things given half the chance. Many people like to leave food out for hedgehogs if they see that they are regular visitors to their garden. They don’t always know not to eat the things that harm them, and so won’t always protect themselves by leaving it alone.
Hedgehogs have a good sense of smell, and will sniff out pretty much anything left out in the garden.
I guess the common misconception is that for animals like hedgehogs you can pretty much leave anything out and it will be fine for them to eat it.
Whilst it is true that hedgehogs will take most things they find in the garden, this does not mean all foods are fine for them to eat. In fact, feeding them the wrong food can be one of the biggest threats to hedgehogs.
If you leave pumpkin out in your garden, most hedgehogs are going to eat it, especially if they have a sweet tooth. Now hedgehogs can be sensitive creatures.
Many people don’t know that hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. Their stomachs are easily upset, and eating pumpkin can do this too. Can hedgehogs eat pumpkin? I’m sure they could, its just not good for them at all.
Hedgehogs need to be protected from a number of things in the garden. For example can hedgehogs swim? Yes they can, but they can become tired quickly and can’t easily get out of garden ponds and swimming pools.
Eating too much pumpkin can lead to bloating of the stomach for a hedgehog. It can also cause diarrhoea which in turn will lead to dehydration for the hedgehog.
This is not good at the best of times, but this can be particularly fatal for a hedgehog in the build up to its hibernation period. It’s common knowledge that a hedgehog hibernates for large parts of the year. They generally tend to hibernate from around October or November right through to March or April each year.
The actual length of this will depend on the weather and how warm the climate is. During this period a hedgehog may move its nesting place, probably due to protection from predators or weather conditions.
A hedgehog will lower its body temperature to match the surrounding temperature, and enter a state knows as torpor. To be able to survive this lengthy period of hibernation a hedgehogs lives of reserves of body fat. These are built up from eating larger amounts of food in the build up to the hibernation period.
To build up enough fat and food reserves to hibernate for this period of time a hedgehog will have to achieve a bodyweight of around 500g.
Eating foods such as pumpkin that would cause it to lose vital fluids and food reserves could prove absolutely fatal for an animal such as a hedgehog just before hibernation. It is for this reason that the answer to the question can hedgehogs eat pumpkin is categorically a no!
What Can I Feed Hedgehogs?
Perhaps you want to leave food out to help maintain the population, or maybe you are the proud owner of a pet hedgehog. So what should you feed a hedgehog? If we’re saying the answer to can hedgehogs eat pumpkin is a no, what can they actually eat?
By nature hedgehogs are omnivorous creatures. In the wild they tend to mostly feast on insects and slugs. They will also eat small amounts of fallen fruits, plants and roots.
To be able to build up their food reserves they need to have a diet that is high in protein but reasonably low in fat. Like I said, this diet is mainly achieved by feeding off insects.
A hedgehog can eat meat, but red or fatty meats should be avoided. Below are some of the things you can either leave out or feed your pet hedgehog.
Most pet shops will sell formulas specially designed for hedgehogs. They will be high in protein and low in fat content.
Feeding a hedgehog a specially designed formula by professionals is a very safe way of helping a hedgehog prepare for hibernation by making sure it has all of the right nutrients and nothing that will cause stomach upsets.
Believe it or not it is perfectly fine to feed hedgehogs certain types of cat foods. Again you are looking for cats foods that are high in protein and low in fat to support a hedgehog in building up the right kind of reserves for hibernation. This is a great food to leave out for hedgehogs without attracting rats, as they do not seem to like this.
Meat and Fish
Hedgehogs can and will eat meat. They should not be given too much of this, and they should be given the right kinds.
Meats with a low fat content such as chicken will be fine for a hedgehog as long as it is cooked. Cooked fish such as salmon or tuna will also work well in feeding a hedgehog.
Many vegetables will provide a rich source of nutrients and some protein for a hedgehog too. It sounds strange to talk about a hedgehog needing a balanced diet, but just like us humans they need this too. Below are some of the vegetables you leave out or food your pet hedgehog:
- Sweet Potato
This is not an exhaustive list but it does give you a ton of good ideas for a variety of things to feed hedgehogs.
What Else Should I Not Feed Hedgehogs?
Like I mentioned earlier, hedgehogs have a sensitive digestive system. This is why the answer to the question of can hedgehogs eat pumpkin is a no.
They are lactose intolerant, and cannot digest dairy products well. You should never give a hedgehog milk, and should avoid other dairy products too.
When I was a kid we used to tear up pieces of bread and throw it out into the garden for birds to feed on. I never really thought about the other animals that could come along and take this food. bread is also not good for a hedgehog digestive system.
Just like the can hedgehogs eat pumpkin question, a hedgehog should definitely not be given bread. Like pumpkin, this will cause a hedgehog to become bloated, and could be life threatening.
Feeding a hedgehog small amounts of meat is fine, if it is something such as chicken that is not high in fat content. However, you should not feed a hedgehog uncooked meat. You should also not feed a hedgehog meet that is raw, or has been seasoned when cooked.
A hedgehog will eat many different insects in the wild. It is possible to buy these from bait shops. The problem with these is that they can often be affected by pesticides or other chemicals, and these are harmful to a hedgehog. They should only eat insects that are found naturally in the wild.
Hedgehogs will definitely snack on any fruits they find that have fallen from trees. Some of these fruits are better than others. When I answered the question can hedgehogs eat pumpkin I said that they will definitely try.
It’s the same with most foods that they come across. The following should be avoided as they are also not good for hedgehogs to eat:
- Citrus fruits
Above I gave you a fairly decent list of vegetables that you can feed a hedgehog. There are however some that should be avoided, as they cannot be digested properly. The list of vegetables below should not be given to hedgehogs:
What Should I Do With Leftover Pumpkin?
So if the answer to can hedgehogs eat pumpkin is no, then you really should not leave them lying around for animals to eat in your garden. Many people do want to give leftover pumpkin to a variety of animals in their garden.
It is entirely possible to do this. The best way would be to simply hang the pumpkin from a tree or in a bird feeder. That way birds and squirrels can access this, but is kept high and out of the way of hedgehogs.
So there you have it. A definitive answer to the question of can hedgehogs eat pumpkin. No they can’t, and should not be fed this. It is bad for their stomachs, can lead to bloating, diarrhoea and dehydration. This can be fatal for hedgehogs, especially if they are preparing for hibernation.
Instead there is a vast array of meat, fruits and vegetables that you can feed hedgehogs. These will be safe to eat, and will help them to prepare for the long winter ahead.
Can hedgehogs eat pumpkin? No, but you can try some of the other foods I have listed above and they will be completely safe.