If you are like me, you can usually tell if your hedgehog behaves differently. I have noticed fewer poops to clean up the last few days, which concerned me, so I tried to keep a close eye on my hedgehog but couldn’t see anything that would be worrying.
A few weeks ago, I noticed something in his mouth. Now I’m wondering whether hedgehogs eat their own poop.
Hedgehogs don’t often eat their poop, but many reasons can explain why they sometimes do. They might have a nutrient deficiency, a lack of hydration, stress, or there isn’t enough food in their bowl. Hedgehogs are ravenous creatures and will resort to eating their own poop to feed their hunger.
After discovering the dark truth that my hedgehog was indeed eating his poop, I needed to find out why he was eating his own poop, if it was dangerous and how I could stop him from doing so in the future.
So I did some research and spoke to my vet about it, and here is what I discovered about if hedgehogs eat their own poop and why.
Do Hedgehogs Eat Their Own Poop?
None of us like hearing the words, your pet is eating its own poop, but is this the case with hedgehogs? Unfortunately, they do sometimes eat their own poop.
The act of an animal eating either their own poop or another animal’s poop is called Coprophagia. There are many animals that belong to the dung diners society, including hedgehogs, rabbits, mice, cats, and dogs.
There are many reasons why hedgehogs might do this, and in this section, I will take a look at why your hedgehog has decided that poop is its new snack.
Why Do Hedgehogs Eat Their Own Poop?
It might be a very distasteful thing to think about, but we need to understand the reason behind this behavior; it will help you discover if there is a problem that you need to address. Here are some of the reasons why hedgehogs eat their own poop:
A Lack of Nutrition
If your hedgehog is suddenly eating their own poop, it might be because the food it is getting doesn’t have the proper nutrients to satisfy what the hedgehog’s body needs.
You could try switching to more nutritious foods and see if it helps.
The Hedgehog Digestive Tract
The other reason is the digestive system of a hedgehog. We need to understand that hedgehogs have short digestive systems.
Sometimes food is only halfway digested when it gets pooped out. So it’s only getting half of the nutrient value. It could lead to nutrient deficiency and might be why it is eating the half-digested food/poop.
If your hedgehog doesn’t get enough water, it might try to get the moisture in its poop to make up for the lack of fluids.
Maybe your hedgehog has not mastered the drinking bottle, or you see, it doesn’t seem like it’s drinking water. Try to give it water in a small bowl; this might help as some hedgehogs don’t like the bottles.
There Isn’t Enough Food
You might be worried about giving your hedgehog too much food, but if you don’t give enough, then it will resort to eating its own poop to satisfy its hunger.
So if you see an empty bowl by early in the evening, replenish it; your hedgehog might just be hungry.
Some hoglets (baby hedgehogs) might get stressed when they go to a new home, and they might eat their poop as a coping mechanism. It will get better if you give them some time and space.
Like other animals, hedgehogs have the instinct to eat things they find on the ground. Try picking up the poops more often and see if that stops it from eating its poop.
A Change in Diet
When you switch from one food to another, sometimes it takes a little while for the new food’s total nutrient value to be absorbed, which might lead to a hedgehog eating its poop to make up for the temporary nutrient deficit.
Sometimes, your hedgehog will self-anoint themselves using their own saliva, and sometimes they will use their own poop. If there are no other symptoms, you have nothing to worry about.
Is It Dangerous for a Hedgehog to Eat Its Poop?
You might be wondering if your hedgehog will be ok if it’s eating its own poop. It’s not dangerous for a hedgehog to eat its own poop at all. In fact, they get the nutrients that are left behind in the excrement, such as cellulite, protein, and minerals.
It only becomes dangerous when they have a runny nose, sneezing, or licking a lot. Please get in touch with a vet immediately if you see signs of these symptoms.
The other thing that could be dangerous is eating the poop of other animals. So keep them away from where other animals have done their business. They could get a parasite or bacterial infection from eating another animal’s poop.
How Much Do Hedgehogs Poop?
When you get a hedgehog as a pet, prepare yourself, you will be cleaning their cage quite often. Baby hedgehogs or hoglets are tiny little pooping machines, and they tend to poop every few minutes, it seems.
As hedgehogs get older, they do tend to poop less. They still poop a lot, but at least it’s manageable. It’s because of their high metabolism and short digestive tract, and rich diets.
It is essential to watch how much they poop or how little because it could affect their health. You can tell a lot about a hedgehog’s general health by looking at their poop.
There is no set number of times a hedgehog poops in a day, but the color and consistency of its poop will play a massive role in how much it poops.
Hedgehog Poop Colors and Consistency
As we learned earlier in the post, hedgehogs can eat their poop when they are sick; sometimes, we can tell more about a hedgehog’s health by how much they poop or how little. Here are some interesting poop factors to keep in mind.
Consistency of Hedgehog Poop
The consistency of a hedgehog’s poop can tell you a lot about their overall health. It affects the number of times a day they poop and the amount that comes out.
If you are cleaning your hedgehog’s cage and you find that there is not a lot of poop, the poop is very hard and dry, or there is no poop, your hedgie might be constipated. You can also check if it looks strained when trying to poop.
In this case, you need to give your hedgehog unsalted and unsweetened cooked pumpkin. Pumpkin has all the proper nutrients and fiber required to help ease the stool along. Give about 1/8 – 1/4 of a teaspoon.
It has a high water content, and that makes it ideal for softening the poop, making it easier to come out. You should never leave your hedgehog with constipation, even for a day, in hopes it would go away.
If the pumpkin doesn’t work, you need to take your hedgehog to the vet as soon as you can. You can also put your hedgehog’s bum in lukewarm water; this will help the muscles relax and help release the backed-up poop.
Mushy or Diahrrea-Like Poop
When you clean your hedgehog’s cage, you might be worried when you see mushy or diarrhea-like poop. It could simply be an upset tummy.
As with other animals and even us humans, an upset tummy means more poop, more regularly. Pumpkin works excellent for diarrhea or loose poop, just like it helps with constipation.
The pumpkin adds bulk and helps even out the texture and consistency of the poop. If it doesn’t get better within 24 hours, you need to take your hedgehog for a vet visit.
One of the other causes of diarrhea could be an imbalance of gut flora. It happens when the good bacteria gets out of balance with the bad bacteria.
You can give your hedgehog probiotics now and then to help keep their gut flora in balance. Many hedgie owners use BeneBac to solve an immediate flora imbalance and get back to healthy poops.
If you can’t get your hedgehogs’ poop back to a normal consistency within 24-48 hours of trying the pumpkin and probiotic, it would be best if you took it to a vet.
It might be another illness, and some diseases can be zoonotic (meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans). You should take precautions and keep your hedgehog isolated from your other pets and family members to prevent it from spreading.
Also, use gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after touching or picking your hedgehog up.
Extra Smelly Slightly Loose Poop
When you notice an increasingly bad smell when cleaning your hedgehog cage and the poop seems to be a bit more than usual, and it’s runny, it is usually due to something the hedgehog ate that did not agree with digestive tracts.
That can be a new brand of food or snack that its gut doesn’t like; for example, any treats or food with fish in it will cause a terrible smell in hedgehog poop.
Fish is excellent to give hedgehogs, but there are other supplements you can provide your hedgehog to get the Omega 3’s in the fish without the smelly poop as a side effect.
Hedgehog Poop Colors
The color of your hedgehog’s poop might also influence the number of times a hedgehog poops. Here are some of the colors that you should watch out for:
Blood or Red Colored Poop
Red or bloody poop is a serious problem. You need to get to an emergency vet immediately; bloody poop means internal bleeding and must be treated as soon as possible.
In this case, your hedgehog might poop more than usual, and it could dehydrate them quickly. In some cases, the bloody poop will be present in black and not red. It depends on where the blood stems from.
Green or Green Slimy Colored Poop
Green poop, in general, is usually a sign of stress in hedgehogs. They will poop more than usual, and the color will give away that they feel stressed. It can happen when their environment changes or when they change foods.
There are some situations to look out for that indicate your hedgehog is stressed and that you need to take care of to keep them happy and healthy:
- An enclosure that is too small for their needs.
- Not having a safe place to hide like a dome or under a blanket.
- Food that is not nutritious enough for them.
- Improper lighting could disrupt their sleep cycle.
- No exercise opportunity like a hedgehog/ hamster running wheel.
They will also get stressed when going for a routine vet check, but it’s nothing to worry about, and all will go back to normal after a day or so.
Green Slimy poop, however, is not due to stress. You need to monitor your hedgehog carefully and not leave it untreated past 48-hours.
The fact that it’s not only green but slimy as well could lead to a bacterial infection called Clostridium. This bacterial infection comes in 5 different strands, but it needs lab cultures to confirm the diagnosis and the strand should your hedgehog have it.
It could be dangerous to your hedgehog if left untreated because, firstly, it can lead to your hedgehog wasting away. Secondly, it can be zoonotic(can be transmitted from animal to humans).
Hedgehogs are adorable animals, but their tendency to eat their poop is not so cute. While it is normal to an extent, you can tell a lot about what they need when they eat their poop.
By keeping a close eye on it, adding food, or switching to a new food, and looking out for signs that your hedgehog might be stressed, you can get it to stop eating its own poop. In the end, it is better to get them to a vet if the poop eating continues after you have done everything you can to get them to stop, and they don’t.