Ever since we were children, we have been familiar with fairy tales and cartoons about hedgehogs, in which the main character hoards fruit and mushrooms for the winter.
But this is just a made-up myth. In fact, hedgehogs never stock up to survive the winter.
Both in the wild and at home, they accumulate fat from spring through late fall. To do this, hedgehogs need to eat a lot.
What do hedgehogs eat in the wild?
Hedgehogs eat a variety of foods because they are omnivores. Most often these are amphibians, insects, slugs, caterpillars, earthworms. In addition to animals, hedgehogs eat fruits and berries.
In addition to the usual beetles and snakes, the hedgehog eats very poisonous representatives of them, such as viper, blister beetle, May crunch, hairy beetle. After such a meal the animal does not get sick and does not die in a few seconds, because the body of the hedgehog is resistant to various poisons.
In the forest, hedgehogs also eat mice, but this happens as an exception. The mouse is very nimble and the hedgehog can not keep up with it, but if it gets in the way, the hedgehog eats it. Also, the animal likes to eat clutches and nestlings of birds that have settled their nests on the ground.
What do hedgehogs eat at home?
Most often, the hedgehog at home eats the same as his owner. But give the food that you eat yourself in no case can not. Food from the table will kill the animal, and you yourself will not know why the hedgehog died so early. The best food for the pet hedgehog is specialized feed. But it is very difficult to get them in the CIS countries. Premium cat food can be the best option, and only for the first few days. Then you will need to plan a special menu for the new lodger.
Products you can feed your hedgehog at home:
- The cooked meat of lean varieties (chicken, beef, turkey);
- chicken tripe;
- berries and fruits in small quantities (pears, apples, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries);
- Vegetables, like fruit, should also be given in small quantities (cucumbers, sweet peppers, pumpkin, carrots);
- Once a week you can give raw chicken or quail eggs;
- also, give live insects.
Make sure all food is fresh and at room temperature. Be sure to clean up leftovers in the cage so that the hedgehog doesn’t eat spoiled food and gets poisoned.
Foods that should not be given to hedgehogs:
- onions and garlic;
- Exotic fruits (all citrus fruits, pineapples, avocados, mangoes, etc.);
- dried fruit (due to poor patency);
- Grapes (possibility of choking on seeds);
- Seeds and nuts (because they are very fatty and will give you an upset stomach);
- fast food;
The legend that hedgehogs like milk are very common, but in fact, milk is destructive for hedgehogs because their body does not absorb lactose. While a long-lived hedgehog lives 5 to 6 years, a hedgehog that drinks milk will not live a year.
Another important point is that the hedgehog should always have fresh drinking water in his cage.
Remember, hedgehogs are predatory animals, so his diet should include protein-rich food of animal origin.
Where do hedgehogs live?
There are 23 species of this class in the world, they are distributed all over the globe, and in Russia – almost everywhere. Only South America, Australia, Madagascar, and Antarctica are not inhabited by hedgehogs.
Their settlements can be found under tree roots, in thorny bushes, in a heap of brushwood, or an abandoned rodent’s burrow. Hedgehogs live individually and protect their clumpy areas. At such sites, hedgehogs build individual nests, which they line inside with moss, dry leaves, and grass.
Hedgehogs hunt at night and go to bed during the day, curled up in a ball. With the onset of the winter cold – the end of September, beginning of October through April, when the air temperature rises above +15 degrees, the hedgehogs hibernate. The frequency of heartbeat and respiratory activity at this time is greatly reduced. If a hedgehog has not managed to accumulate fat during the summer period, it will certainly die of starvation death during hibernation.
In unfavorable years, up to 45% of adults and up to 80% of young hedgehogs die during hibernation. In nature, hedgehogs live from 3 to 7 years, but in domestic conditions, their life span extends up to 15 years.
Who loves animals, does not give up keeping hedgehogs, especially it is not difficult.
Benefits and harms of hedgehogs
The hedgehog easily adapts to life next to humans, and very often he is kept as a pet. As early as the Romans in the 4th century B.C. raised hedgehogs for meat, they baked it in clay along with needles. Hedgehog hides were widely used for making leather.
The common hedgehog is useful in exterminating harmful insects and harmful in that it eats chicks and eggs of birds that nest on the ground.