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Can Hedgehogs Eat Broccoli?

Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner with a strong background in nutrition.

Can hedgehogs eat broccoli? The humble hedgehog is an adorable little creature that will steal your heart. They can be fantastic pets, and they have a reputation for being clean and easy to care for.

However, you must know how to properly feed a hedgehog to keep them healthy and happy. There are some foods you should never feed your hedgehog because they can cause harm. Let's look at whether hedgehogs can nibble on broccoli.

What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Broccoli?

Broccoli is a vegetable that belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, the same family as cabbage and kale. Broccoli is packed with many health benefits. It's rich in vitamin C and fiber, which are essential for good health. It’s a food that some animals can eat and enjoy. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), broccoli contains antioxidants called flavonoids that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Can Hedgehogs Eat Broccoli?

The leaves and stems of broccoli are safe for a hedgehog to eat, although they may not like the taste or texture of this vegetable at first. The thicker stalks of the broccoli plant are also safe for hedgehogs to eat, although they're a little tougher and may not appeal as much to your pet.

Being omnivores, hedgehogs can enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables. They also eat insects, making them both an omnivore and an insectivore. Therefore, hedgehogs can be happy with a variety of foods, and that includes broccoli.

However, it's a good idea to chop fresh broccoli into tiny pieces, so your hedgehog can eat it more easily. Large pieces of broccoli could lodge in their throat and pose a choking hazard. One way to do this is to dice broccoli before offering it to your pet to make it more manageable.

One benefit of feeding your hedgehog fresh vegetables, like broccoli, is its low in calories. Hedgehogs are prone to weight gain and obesity and if they spend most of their time indoors where they're less active, they can gain weight. Foods like broccoli with its low-calorie density give a hedgehog something to nibble on, which will reduce the odds of gaining weight.

What About Frozen Broccoli for Your Hedgehog?

Hedgehogs can eat frozen broccoli too but be sure to let it thaw before giving it to your pet. Frozen broccoli has the added benefit of being already chopped into smaller pieces. However, you may need to chop the pieces even smaller to lower the risk of choking.

Depending upon your hedgehog's tastes, they may embrace broccoli or ignore it. But if you can get them to eat it, you may be doing something beneficial for their health. Broccoli is not only rich in nutrients but studies in animals show it may offer anti-cancer benefits. However, this is an area that needs more research.

Not All Vegetables Are Safe

Broccoli cut into small pieces is a safe and tasty addition to a hedgehog's diet. However, not all vegetables are safe for hedgehogs. For example, you should never feed a hedgehog garlic, onions, avocado, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, or celery. Before feeding any fruit or vegetable to a hedgehog, research and ensure it's safe by checking it out on reputable veterinary sites.

Be aware that broccoli and many other vegetables are high in fiber. Hedgehogs, like humans, can develop digestive upset and gas when they suddenly increase the fiber content of their diet. Therefore, give your hedgehog broccoli only in moderation, and don't introduce too much into their diet too quickly.

Also, ensure your hedgehog eats a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods. Hedgehogs don't need vegetables, like broccoli, to survive, but they need high-quality protein. So, make sure your hedgehog gets a balanced diet based on what your veterinarian recommends.

It Can Be Used as a Snack or Treat

Hedgehogs can snack on small pieces of broccoli and enjoy its crunchiness, although acceptance of broccoli among hedgehogs is variable. It's low in calories and packed with nutrients and fiber. However, don't offer hedgehogs large quantities of fiber-rich vegetables, like broccoli, regularly because it can cause stomach upset or diarrhea if they get too much. Introducing it slowly into their diet allows their digestive tract to adapt to the fiber in this cruciferous vegetable.

References

"Broccoli, raw nutrition facts and analysis.." https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Broccoli%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html.

"Broccoli 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits." 10 May. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/broccoli.

"Hedgehogs - Feeding | VCA Animal Hospital." https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/hedgehogs---feeding.

"Flavonoid Content of Vegetables - Agricultural Research Service." https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/80400525/Articles/AICR03_VegFlav.pdf.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.