Although most people think of hedgehogs as violent animals because of their spines, in reality, they have a calm temperament and are quite docile. Just give them space and time, and they will grow to love you. If you’re trying to get them to like you, a few occasional treats might make your job easier. But what would you use to treat them? Will peanut butter work?
Can hedgehogs eat peanut butter? Although hedgehogs won’t say “no” if you feed them peanut butter, it is very unhealthy for them and should therefore be avoided. Peanut butter has high fat, sugar, and calorie content, and is too sticky for your hedgehogs to eat properly. Even if you feed them peanut butter, make it rare, and use organic smooth peanut butter.
Below, you will learn everything you need to know about feeding peanut butter to hedgehogs: its contents, the risks involved in feeding it to hedgehogs, and more.
Will Hedgehogs Eat Peanut Butter?
As a pet parent, would you ever want to force-feed your pet something they don’t like eating? None of us would. So, before introducing peanut butter to their diet, we must find out whether or not they will eat it.
Will hedgehogs eat peanut butter? Yes, they will, but not because peanut butter appeals to their taste buds or is healthy for them; only because these spiny creatures are one of the least picky pets.
Used to their life in the wild, they have learned not to say no to anything edible they are offered. Thus, if you offer them peanut butter, it’s very likely that they will gobble it up without second thoughts.
What Is Peanut Butter Made Up Of?
Since we needn’t worry about hedgehogs not liking peanut butter, we can move ahead to discuss the impact of peanut butter on their health. And in order to do that, we should first learn what peanut butter is made up of.
Peanut butter is a kind of food spread that is made from ground peanuts. Once the paste is ready, salt, sugar, and a few artificial additives are added to it to enhance its taste, and your peanut butter is ready. There are two popular varieties of peanut butter: smooth and crunchy.
The first one contains the regular paste, while crushed pieces of dry-roasted peanuts are added to the second one, lending it a crunchy taste and texture.
Now, let’s break down peanut butter nutritionally and see what it is made up of:
|Total calories||638 kcal|
Serving size: 100 grams
As indicated in the table, peanut butter is rich (probably too rich) in protein, carbohydrates, fat, and sugar. And while hedgehogs do need all these nutrients in their diet (carbs for energy, protein for muscle health and healthy hair growth, and fat for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins), their requirement is very little.
In other words, peanut butter will give them more nutrients than they need, which is never a good thing for your pets.
Risks Involved With Feeding Peanut Butter To Hedgehogs
If you look at the table in the previous section carefully, you will find that the caloric count of 100 grams peanut butter is 638 kcal, which is far too high for your little pet friends.
Because of their small body, hedgehogs have no use for all these calories. And if they can’t burn the calories, it will lead to their weight gain, ultimately making your hedgehog fat and lazy.
The Risk Of Aflatoxins
For those of you who haven’t heard of aflatoxins, these are toxic mutagens and carcinogens that often contaminate peanuts stored in a moist or warm place.
Although these toxins can only infect raw peanuts and not the butter, if these infected peanuts are used in the peanut butter that your little pets are eating, the aflatoxins in it can harm their liver severely, especially if consumed frequently.
Too Much Sugar
Because hedgehogs don’t usually eat sweet things in the wild, their body is not used to digesting sugar, whether natural or refined.
Most of the commercial peanut butter brands add a substantial amount of sugar to their butter in order to sweeten its taste.
If your pet is eating a teaspoon full of peanut butter occasionally, its sugar content might not cause them too much harm. But feeding them peanut butter more frequently could be a disaster. Not only can sugar lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea, but it can also make them diabetic in the long run.
Since the high sugar content in peanut butter makes it harmful for humans as well, many manufacturers have switched to using xylitol instead of sugar in their products.
But what is xylitol? It is a naturally occurring alcohol found in some plants that can safely be used as a sweetening agent in foods and don’t harm people, unlike sugar. From chewing gums to baked goods, xylitol is used everywhere.
However, while xylitol is safe for human consumption, it has been known to have an adverse effect on many animals, particularly dogs, and other canines. And even though we don’t have enough data to find out whether it is safe for hedgehogs or not, as a safety precaution, it would be better to eliminate it from their diet.
In case you want to use peanut as a rare treat for your pet, you can look for brands that don’t use xylitol in their peanut butter.
As you already know, peanut butter is heavy and sticky in texture. Chewing them properly needs a lot of work; work that your pet hedgehogs are incapable of.
There have been many instances in which the peanut butter has stuck to the roof of their mouth, and has also acted as a choking hazard for them (particularly the crunchy peanut butter).
After going through all the risks involved with feeding peanut butter to hedgehogs, it would be justified to say that peanut butter is not the right kind of treat for them.
Feeding Peanut Butter To Hedgehogs: Things To Remember
If, after reading all the aforementioned problems with feeding peanut butter to hedgehogs, you still want to feed them peanut butter occasionally, here are some pointers to make the whole experience safer for your pets:
As we’ve mentioned before, peanut butter is of two kinds: smooth and crunchy. The crunchy peanut butter contains pieces of roasted peanuts that can possibly get stuck in your pet’s throat, posing a choking threat. Therefore, you should never, ever feed them crunchy peanut butter. Stick to its smooth variant for your pets.
Organic peanut butter, although it is more expensive than regular ones, is much safer for your pets. It is because it has the minimum number of chemical additives that can harm your hedgehog’s health.
On the day you feed your hedgehog peanut butter as a special treat, cut back on any other food that has a high-fat content. This might bring a balance in their calorie intake for the day.
Can Hoglets Eat Peanut Butter?
The younger ones of hedgehogs are referred to as “hoglets”. Hoglets should be fed only goat’s milk or milk formula until they are about 21 days old. Once they cross this age, you can slowly start introducing other, protein-rich foods into their diet.
But as far as peanut butter is concerned, you should never feed it to a hoglet, for their health is much more fragile than their parents. This is why even a small bite of unhealthy food can be lethal to them.
Conclusion: Can Hedgehogs Eat Peanut Butter?
The bottom line is, peanut butter is not an ideal treat for your pet hedgehogs. It is rich in sugar and fat, is dry and sticky in texture, and might contain a number of preservatives and additives that can harm your little pets. If you want to treat them, go for safer options like cat biscuits or insects like caterpillars, beetles, earwigs, etc.