Bedding & Litter Eating Or Ingestion
Reasons for Eating Bedding
- Inquisitive – Hedgehogs are inquisitive by nature and often attempt to learn about their environment through their senses of taste and smell. Baby or young hedgehogs are very prone to eating new brands or types of bedding.
- Self-Anoint and/or Camouflage – Many hedgehogs will ingest new bedding in order to create a forth to self anoint.
- Hunger – It is believed that hedgehogs that have had drastically reduced diets or an inadequate diet may eat bedding to attempt to satisfy hunger.
- Nutritional Deficiency – Some believe animals eat things in their environment to try to combat something they are lacking in their diet.
What to Do
- The most important thing to do is to monitor how much bedding your hedgehog is eating and to try to discourage your hedgehog from eating more bedding.
- Hedgehogs that eat a single piece of new bedding and spit it out or self anoint with it are most likely eating it out of curiosity and will discontinue eating the bedding once they realize it isn’t food.
- Offer additional treats or additional staple diet to encourage the hedgehog to eat food rather than bedding.
- Immediately remove bedding if you notice your hedgehog eating multiple pieces of bedding.
- Ingested bedding can cause serious abdominal impactions that can lead to death.
- Always keep an eye on your hedgehog’s appetite and stool after your hedgehog eats bedding.
- Your hedgehog’s stool should remain a relatively good size and should be well formed.
- Very small stool, diarrhea, or straining while defecating could be signs of an impaction.
- Possible puncture if sharp
- The best solution is prevention. Try to use the same or similar bedding as your breeder when purchasing a baby hedgehog. For instance, if your breeder uses Aspen Shavings use Aspen shavings or pellets. Many breeders use kiln dried Pine Shavings so be sure to use Pine Shavings or pellets.
- Baby hedgehogs not previously exposed to paper pellets have a greater tendency to eat bedding than babies raised on a paper product.
- Plain clay kitty litter is less likely to cause an impaction than paper pellets bedding. Clay will pass through the digestive system whereas paper pellets expand when wet which is more likely to cause an impaction.
Author: Gail Dick, Millermeade Farm’s Critter Connection