Can Hedgehogs Eat Cheese? A Big Red Flag in Your Hedgie’s Diet 

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Can Hedgehogs Eat Cheese

Recently, a few Reddit users claimed that their quill balls could eat cheese without falling sick. Is it true? Can hedgehogs eat cheese? Can they digest milk or dairy items?

Ideally, hedgehogs can not digest cheese. Cheese or any dairy products lactose sugar and hedgies are highly lactose intolerant. When the pets consume cheese, bacteria ferment over the sugar, causing them stomach ache or diarrhea. 

Keep reading for more details. 



Is Cheese OK for Hedgehogs?

Is Cheese OK for Hedgehogs
Photo courtesy to Canva

According to Wildlife Online, hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. In simple terms, they can not digest milk or dairy products. Apparently, they lack the lactase enzyme needed to metabolize the sugar or lactose present in milk. 

Now moving to cheese, we all know it is made of milk. Feeding the hedgies cheese will surely cause indigestion. 

The pets will be unable to break down the lactose sugar. With time, bacteria of our digestion system ferment on this sugar. As a result, the quill balls suffer from diarrhea, intestinal cramps, and gastrological problems. 

Hence, we advise not to feed the hedgehogs cheese in any quantity. However, if you really want to make your hedgies taste cheese, limit the portion. Small cheese pieces once or twice a month might not harm the pocket pets

Again, experts claim that lactose percentage drops in cheese with aging. Therefore, offering the hedgehogs aged cheese might not be dangerous for their health. 


Can Hedgehogs Eat Cottage Cheese? 

Can Hedgehogs Eat Cottage Cheese
Photo courtesy to Canva

According to West Coast Hedgehogs, our tiny hedgies can safely consume cottage cheese in moderation. The author also argues that non-sugary yogurt treats are also harmless for the quill balls. 

Of course, we received many similar claims. Honestly, a small amount of cottage cheese or dairy items might not do anything to your hedgehogs. But remember, each prickle ball has a unique digestive and immune system. Hence, it is better not to generalize milk items for the hedgehogs. 

If you want to feed your hedgehogs cottage cheese, offer them in moderation. Keep an eye on their poop and overall health. If the pets adjust well, you can add this cheese to their meals only as a treat. 


Can Hedgehogs Eat Mozzarella Cheese? 

Can Hedgehogs Eat Mozzarella Cheese
Photo courtesy to Canva

We won’t lie. A few hedgehogs love mozzarella cheese treats. Sometimes they get so hooked that they refuse any other treats over mozzarella. 

Like any other cheese, milk is the key ingredient of mozzarella. Therefore, the chances are that the hedgies will suffer from indigestion and gastrointestinal issues. 

But as seen, some hedgies can digest a small amount of mozzarella just fine. In any case, do not overfeed your hedgehogs with mozzarella. The cheese is low in protein and minerals. Thus, the quill balls will suffer from both indigestion and mineral deficiency. 


What Happens If A Hedgehog Eats Cheese? 

As mentioned, hedgehogs are highly lactose intolerant. Therefore, the hedgies can go through adverse physical effects if they feast on cheese or dairy items. 

Primarily, the pets will suffer from gastrointestinal issues, e.g., extreme stomach pain. The runny stool is also common in sick hedgehogs. 

However, do not panic. Nibbling on cheese is not life-threatening. You can monitor for any physical change and feed the prickle balls a healthy diet. 

Diarrhea can lead to dehydration. So, try your best to keep the pets hydrated. Do not forget to call the vet if anything goes south. 


Alternative Treats for Hedgehogs 

Why would you feed your hedgehogs cheese when we have healthier treat options? For example:

Live Insects:

Hedgies have a natural hunting instinct. Preying gives them mental stimulation and keeps them physically fit. That is why experts always encourage offering the hedgehogs live and whole prey. 

We leave worms and prey, e.g., mealworms, superworms, waxworms, Dubia roaches, crickets, etc., in the substrates. Hedgies hunt the insects down with great interest. We offer them live insects at least twice or thrice a week. 

Protein Shots:

To bring variety in the taste, we spice up the meal with new items. Our hedgehogs enjoy meat. 

So, we offer them cooked (boiled, baked, roasted) and unseasoned meat (beef, chicken, turkey, lamb) once in a while. We have noticed that the quill balls also enjoy pieces of cooked liver and organs. 

In the wild, hedgehogs often feast on eggs to survive. We sometimes give our hedgies hard-boiled eggs for a change. 

Vegetables & Fruits:

Proteins have more or less the same texture and taste. To save our hedgies from the boredom, we offer them vegetables and fruits. 

Though we consider vegetables as treats, remember, hedgehogs need 15% fiber to digest protein. As for fruits, they are juicy and high in sugar. But hedgehogs enjoy the taste. So, offering the vegetables and fruits in moderation will do no harm. 

The safe fruits and vegetables are: cucumber, broccoli, arugula, romaine lettuce, kale, sweet potato, zucchini, apple, banana, melon, berry, cherry, etc. 


Conclusion

Hedgehogs are highly lactose intolerant. Offering them cheese or dairy products will cause them stomach pain and diarrhea. In spite of knowing the risk, some owners still feed their quill balls cheese. We discourage such experimentation. Our suggestion is to offer the hedgehogs alternative treats like live insects, vegetables, and fruits. 


FAQs

Can hedgehogs have dairy?

All dairy products include lactose sugar, and hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. This means that they can not metabolize lactose. As a result, the pets suffer from stomach pain, indigestion, and diarrhea. 

Can hedgehogs eat peanuts?

Peanuts are high in fat and phosphorus. Therefore, regular peanut meals can cause obesity and metabolic bone disease in hedgehogs. Only occasional peanut treats are safe for the hedgies. However, it is better to avoid peanuts altogether.

Can hedgehogs eat bread? 

Breads are not suitable for hedgehogs as they are high in carbohydrates. Hedgies can not break down and digest carbs very well. Therefore, the pets might suffer from indigestion and discomfort. The hedgehogs might even gain weight due to regular bread consumption.

Can hedgehogs eat kitten biscuits? 

The kitten biscuits are high in protein and low in fat. So, hedgehogs can consume them without any doubt. However, the biscuits might be too dry for our quill balls. It raises the risk of choking. We advise offering kitten biscuits in small bite sizes and in moderation.

What do hedgehogs love eating?

Though hedgehogs are omnivores, they enjoy animal protein over vegetables and greens. Their favorite foods are: mealworms, earwigs, earthworm, waxworm, Dubia roaches, slug, snail, pinkie mice, etc. 

About the author

Susana

Susana

Susana Jean, Pocket Pet Expert and Sugar Glider Aficionado Hi everyone! I’m Susana Jean, your go-to wordsmith and pet enthusiast who has a special place in her heart for the fascinating world of sugar gliders.…Continue reading

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