Do Hedgehogs Eat Their Own Poop?

Stout looking wild hedgehog in grass but Do Hedgehogs Eat Their Own Poop?

Hedgehogs are adorable little creatures that are famous for their quirky behaviors and looks. Few things can be more disturbing than discovering gross behavior in pet hedgehogs like eating their own fecal matter.

This article provides detailed answers to the question “Do Hedgehogs Eat Their Own Poop” by uncovering hedgehogs’ attitudes to their feces as well as what may trigger them to consider ingesting their own excreta.

Do Hedgehogs Eat Their Own Poop?

Hedgehogs may eat their own poop when their short digestive tracts rob them of maximum absorption of nutrients in their food. Eating their fecal matter is an instinctive behavior that provides another crack at ingesting valuable nutrients missed out on the first time.

Thoughts of hedgehogs ingesting their poop can be gross but it is not as uncommon as it may seem. Many pets including rodents like rats, hamsters, and gerbils eat their own poop from time to time.

Eating their own fecal matter is a natural behavior that hedgehogs undertake and the best you can do is to be understanding of the underlying dynamics.

Why Do Hedgehogs Eat Their Own Poop?

Here are the top reasons that may stimulate hedgehogs to turn to their own poop as a source of nutrition whether domesticated or in the wild.


Lack of food access is the number one cause of poop eating in hedgehogs. While these creatures can starve for up to 3 days, desperation kicks in at some point when the hunger pangs become unbearable. They instinctively start foraging their cages for anything that might be edible to quench the hunger and related discomfort.

Once that fails, hedgehogs naturally switch their attention to eating their poop however gross it may appear to humans. Sometimes, hedgehogs also eat feces to supplement the food supplied by owners if the portions are not adequate.


dehydrated hedgehog drinking from a bowl

Adult hedgehogs require up to 40ml of water daily and can be forced to sample the moisture content in their feces to meet their hydration requirements. This could be due to the failure of owners to refill their water bowls or water bottles.

Sometimes, hedgehogs may accidentally tip over their water dishes resulting in extended dehydration that can trigger poop eating. Installing water bottles instead of dishes and conducting daily checks to ensure proper functioning could eliminate dehydration in hedgehogs.

Nutritional Dietary Deficiencies 

Hedgehog owners may be feeding their pets daily with the right portions but poop eating can be inevitable when the food lacks the required nutrition. The feces is consumed to obtain more nutrients to promote good growth and overall well-being.

Hedgehogs require high amounts of proteins (30-35 percent) and low amounts of fat (5-15 percent) which explains why vets typically recommend high-quality cat food or packaged hedgehog food. 

Picking up the cheapest cat food on store shelves may result in nutritional imbalances that can force hedgehogs to look for supplements in the form of their own fecal matter.

New, Unfamiliar Diets

Hedgehogs hate abrupt diet switches and may shun the new diet completely. Instead, eating their poop could become a more convenient option. We recommend gradual dietary changes by feeding the new diet side by side with the old until the hedgehog becomes familiar with the new diet.

Short Digestive Tract 

Hedgehogs have short digestive tracts and the time from ingestion to excretion can be as quick as an hour or two. This means significant amounts of nutrients may evade digestion by ending up in their feces. Eating their poop allows hedgehogs to reabsorb those nutrients to meet the requirements for consistent growth and well-being.


Hedgehogs exhibit several strange behaviors as a response to stress and poop eating is one of the most popular. Hoglets typically shun their food bowls during the first 48 hours of arrival in unfamiliar surroundings.

Eating their poop not only serves as a coping mechanism but also helps eliminate the hunger pangs and discomfort associated with the self-imposed food strikes.


Self-anointing is a normal behavior where hedgehogs cover their entire spines with saliva and sometimes, poop. While it is difficult to know the exact reasons for anointing, avoid stressing yourself unless they are displaying signs of distress.

Can Hedgehogs Get Sick From Eating Their Own Poop?

Poop eating in hedgehogs is a healthy endeavor as long as the hedgehog is not showing signs of sickness such as continuous sneezing, lethargy, running nose, and constant nose licking. Poop eating is one of the best ways hedgehogs enjoy steady growth because it serves as a boost to their nutritional base.

Besides, nutrients like proteins and vitamins absorbed from the poop allow hedgehogs to fight diseases and infections thanks to the resultant immune system enhancements.

However, problems can arise when hedgehogs eat another animal’s poop including cohabiting hedgehogs. The poop may contain pathogens that could induce infections and diseases. This is one of the reasons why hedgehogs should never share a cage with other hedgehogs or animals.

How Often Do Hedgehogs Poop?

European hedgehog in the woods after pooping but How Often Do Hedgehogs Poop?

Hedgehogs are literal poop bags that defecate throughout their cages. Raising these animals means constant exposure to fecal matter. Among hoglets, defecation seems to occur every couple of minutes.

The pooping rate reduces gradually as hedgehogs grow older but it can still be substantial, especially during their waking periods. Hedgehogs poop when engaged in all sorts of activities from running to taking a bath.

Hedgehogs have no hesitation easing themselves in their sleeping areas or even right next to their food and water bowls. It is not uncommon for their water dishes to be soiled with poop which explains why daily refills are non-negotiable for owners that are against water bottles.

Fortunately, their pooping quantities become somewhat stable over time which could serve as a guide to determine their state of health at any point. The color of a hedgehog’s poop is another variable that could provide clues about their health status at any time.

How Does Hedgehog Poop Look Like?

The color and texture of the hedgehog’s poop can provide accurate clues to its state of health at any point. Shall we take a look at what each appearance may exhibit in Hedgehog Poop Universe?

Soft, Mushy-Like Poop 

Soft, mushy feces could be a sign of diarrhea in hedgehogs. This poop texture is often found in multiple areas because hedgehogs defecate even more often when suffering from diarrhea. Since they hardly stay in one place when awake, spreading the feces across different cage areas becomes inevitable.

Several underlying reasons could cause diarrhea including eating excessive amounts of fiber or drinking extreme water quantities. You may want to slow down on the amounts of fruits and vegetables offered and monitor for signs of improvements.

Hedgehogs that are still showing symptoms of diarrhea after 24 hours could require veterinary attention as soon as possible.

Loose, Stinky Poop

Loose, stinky fecal matter often results from hedgehogs consuming something that upsets the tummy. It is a common sign of running stomach which may arise from the introduction of new diets or exposure to sugary snacks.

If the smell is extra stinky, the hedgehog could have accidentally ingested fish or derivative products. While fish is a healthy source of rich omega-3 oils, we recommend finding substitutes that do not come with the resultant poop stench.

Hard Poop

Extra hard poop can be a sign of constipation in hedgehogs. Constipated hedgehogs may ease themselves sparingly or struggle to defecate at all so do not be surprised when there are no traces of feces in their cages.

Even when they do manage to poop, constipated hedgehogs are forced to undergo significant strains. Feeding up to ¼ teaspoon of cooked raw pumpkin could loosen up the hedgehog’s bowels and enable free movements.

A trip to the vet is the last resort when constipated hedgehogs are still struggling to poop after consuming boiled pumpkin water.

Black Colored Poop 

Normal hedgehog poop is black-colored, sausage-like, and may be tapered at one end. The texture is typically neither hard nor too soft and often contains shiny fragments from consumed insects.

If your hedgehog’s fecal matter meets the above requirements, rest easy because it seems to be in good health.

Red-Colored Poop

Red-colored poop is a sign of internal bleeding in hedgehogs and should trigger an immediate visit to a vet before it is too late. Several underlying reasons could be behind the bloody feces but none augurs well for the hedgehog’s well-being.

Internal bleeding typically causes diarrhea resulting in more pooping at smaller intervals. (Source)

Green-Colored Poop

Stress may cause green feces in hedgehogs at an almost diarrhea-like frequency. The stress of arrival in a new environment or abrupt changes in the hedgehog’s diet can trigger poop color changes.

Hedgehogs may also suffer severe stress when stuck in small cages with minimal floor space to meet their roaming needs. The lack of hideouts like plastic igloos or nutritious diets may also stimulate stress.

Other common stress triggers include exposure to heat or cold, lack of toys such as wheels, and inadequate or excessive lighting.

What Can Hedgehogs Eat?

Hedgehogs enjoy a wide variety of diets depending on their habitat. Wild breeds feed on insects as well as slugs, frogs, larvae, and some leaves. However, domesticated hedgehogs’ diets are restricted to 3 or 4 options including:

Cat Food 

wet cat food in a bowl is a hedgehog's favorite

Cat food is the most popular option for many hedgehog owners in North America. Hedgehogs enjoy wet cat food and dry cat biscuits but make sure it contains excellent amounts of protein (30-35 percent) and low-fat quantities (15 percent).

Commercial Hedgehog Food 

Packaged hedgehog foods are also becoming popular among hedgehog owners and breeders. Since they are purposely formulated to meet the needs of domesticated breeds, they should provide the required quantities of nutrients.

However, check the nutrition labels to verify the presence of proteins, fats, and vitamins in healthy quantities.

Fruits and Vegetables 

Fruits and vegetables could be thrown into the hedgehog’s diet. Experts recommend that up to 10 percent of their diets should comprise fruits and vegetables. Popular healthy options include:

  • Apples 
  • Bananas 
  • Pears 
  • Mangoes
  • Honeydew 
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach 
  • Kale 
  • Cucumber
  • Pumpkins


Insects like waxworms, mealworms, crickets, and roaches can be great additions to the hedgehog’s diet. They could be a healthy source of nutrients like proteins, vitamins, and chitin. But, avoid overfeeding insects to hedgehogs because the majority have high-fat content.

Meat and Eggs 

crate of fresh eggs

Lean meats like poultry can be a great supplement for hedgehogs when well-cooked. Hardboiled eggs are one of the hedgehog’s favorite treats but avoid feeding them more than once a week because the cholesterol content may be high.

Conclusion: Do Hedgehogs Eat Their Own Poop?

Hedgehogs instinctively eat their own poop when they are unable to absorb maximum nutrients from their food. They may also consume their feces as a response to extended hunger or thirst, especially in domesticated settings where foraging for food is impossible.

Stressed hedgehogs may also eat their feces as a coping mechanism while hoglets rely on their fecal matter as a source of nutrition during the initial period in a new home after engaging in self-imposed hunger strikes.

Poop eating is normal behavior without side effects as long as the hedgehog eats its own poop and not what has been excreted by another animal.

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