Should I Feed Hedgehogs Mealworms?

mealworms mixed with beetles but Should I Feed Hedgehogs Mealworms?

A good diet is critical to the health and wellbeing of hedgehogs whether domesticated or in the wild and mealworms are one of the most popular options available. They consist of insects that crawl on the ground and it is logical to wonder whether they could be a good source of nutrition for caged hedgehogs.

This article answers the question “Should I Feed Hedgehogs Mealworms?” by revealing critical nutritional information about mealworms to verify whether they can serve as an excellent dietary base for hedgehogs.

We also uncover the correct mealworm feeding schedule at each stage of a hedgehog’s life and the side effects of allowing excessive quantities to be consumed. Let’s get started, shall we?

Should I Feed Hedgehogs Mealworms?

Hedgehogs should only eat mealworms in moderation due to the high phosphorus vs calcium content that can lead to Metabolic Bone Disease. The excessive phosphate in mealworms draws out calcium from their bloodstream making hedgehogs susceptible to leg fractures and inhibiting weight-bearing for movement purposes.

If you’ve been misinformed that a diet of mealworms is all a hedgehog needs because they basically feed on insects in the wild, the next few minutes could be eye-opening. You should be in a prime position to ensure domesticated hedgehogs are protected from the harmful effects of eating excessive amounts of mealworms before it is too late.

How Often Can Hedgehogs Have Mealworms?

Hedgehogs should consume mealworms once a week because it best serves as an occasional treat for good behavior. Avoid offering mealworms more than twice a week because the results for their health can be catastrophic.

Mealworms are a favorite for hedgehogs which is why moderation is key. Allowing hedgehogs to consume as many as they’d like can lead to serious health complications.

How Many Mealworms Should I Feed My Hedgehogs?

dried mealworms on a plate as hedgehog owner asks How Many Mealworms Should I Feed My Hedgehogs?

Adult Hedgehogs should eat 2 mealworms per day due to the high fat and phosphorus content while hoglets may be offered 1 mealworm every 24 hours to boost their growth needs.

Elderly hedgehogs already struggling with weaker organs and various ailments should swallow no more than one mealworm per week. Ditching mealworms totally from their diet can even be a good idea because synthesizing the fat content after consumption may be problematic.

What Age Can Hedgehogs Eat Mealworms?

Hedgehogs should be able to eat mealworms after week 13 when they’ve been weaned off their mothers with well-developed teeth to crush the hard mealworm shells. Solid foods like mealworms should be introduced slowly into their diets to prevent stomach upsets and other forms of discomfort.

Can Hedgehogs Eat Freeze Dried Mealworms?

Hedgehogs are better off eating fresh, frozen mealworms because the freeze-dried options contain almost no nutrients due to the complicated processing. Fresh, frozen mealworms may be available in your local pet store or online.

Why Are Mealworms Bad For Hedgehogs?

There are multiple reasons why making mealworms a staple in a pet hedgehog’s diet can backfire catastrophically. A few of these include:

Mealworms Can Expose Hedgehogs to Metabolic Bone Disease

Feeding excess quantities of mealworms to domesticated hedgehogs may result in increased exposure to the deadly Metabolic Bone Disease which is more or less a death sentence. Symptoms include walking difficulties with the affected hedgehog only shuffling forwards when movement becomes critical.

Hedgehogs become prone to broken legs and other fractures due to the decalcification of bones as a result of the disease. The chance of successful recovery is almost non-existent unless in extremely rare instances when the condition is detected super early.

Mealworms Can Cause Obesity In Hedgehogs

European hedgehog lying in the open on a concreate floor

Mealworms may lead to overweight hedgehogs that struggle to walk or even run on exercise wheels. If you live a busy lifestyle, the temptation to offer mealworms daily could be high especially after securing a large pack in the deep freezer.

However, excessively fed hedgehogs can be heading towards a lifetime of severe health problems ranging from diabetes to heart disease. Their lifespans may also take a hit because early death is inevitable when fat-laden diets are consumed excessively.

Mealworms Can Be Addictive

Hedgehogs love the taste of mealworms and serving it multiple times a week could breed an addiction that may be hard to wean off. Do you know anyone addicted to fast food like Mcdonald’s? Mealworms can have similar addictive effects on pet hedgehogs.

It is one of the few diets hedgehogs literally rush onto after smelling the scent in their food bowls and the addiction may be so strong that they become miserable when fed alternatives. Affected hedgehogs only consider eating other foods like cat kibble when extreme hunger kicks in.

What is Metabolic Bone Disease?

Metabolic Bone Disease is a bone strength disorder triggered by mineral content imbalances in the body. Feeding excessive amounts of mealworms produces high quantities of phosphorus which forces out calcium from the hedgehog’s body into the bloodstream resulting in loss of strength in the bones.

Since hedgehogs are physically active mammals that spend the majority of their wake periods running on the exercise wheel and engaging in other activities, the disease can take a heavy toll on their life quality. Broken bones, dental problems, and motion issues may culminate in appetite losses and extreme boredom.

What is The Right Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio in Hedgehogs?

The correct Calcium to Phosphorus ratio in a hedgehog’s diet is 2:1 to 1:1 Calcium. This is essential to the proper functioning of the two minerals in the hedgehog’s body since both are responsible for some core activities.

However, the Calcium to Phosphorus ratio of up to 1:20 in some mealworm types is extremely poor, and allowing hedgehogs to eat it as a staple can result in life-threatening conditions. Calcium is critical for the formation and maintenance of strong bones and teeth while phosphorus promotes proper functionality in organs like kidneys, livers, and the heart.

The extreme phosphorus content in mealworms typically leeches calcium out of the bones into the hedgehog’s bloodstream to maintain balance. The result is calcium deficiency in the bones and related side effects like fractures and inflammation. (Source)

What is The Best Way to Feed Mealworms To Hedgehogs?

Mealworms may be fed via food bowls or hiding in different areas across the cage to promote scavenging. Hedgehogs have an amazing sense of smell which keeps them in the loop when mealworms are close.

Hiding mealworms in areas like their hideouts or in sandbath containers can boost excitement levels because their scavenging efforts get rewarded when they finally find the treats. This could enhance the bonding process with pet hedgehogs.

Can Hedgehogs Eat Live Mealworms?

Hedgehogs may eat live parasite-free mealworms that are not exposed to disease-causing organisms. We recommend introducing the live mealworms into a hedgehog’s cage at night immediately after waking up when hungry.

Also, feeding a sliced mealworm at a time guarantees the hedgehog finishes consuming one before getting another. This could motivate the hungry mammal to get to work immediately after the live mealworm’s scent is picked up.

What Healthy Treats Can I Offer My Hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs may enjoy a wide range of healthy treats alongside mealworms to promote proper growth and well-being.


selection of fruits on a white background

Fruits are a good option for hedgehogs and could be a solid addition to staple diets. They provide vitamin C which promotes immune system functionality and enhances skin health. The following fruits may be incorporated into your hedgehog’s diet with great effect.

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Mangoes
  • Blackberries


Hedgehogs enjoy several types of healthy vegetables when integrated into their diets. Vegetables could be a reliable source of vitamins and minerals for promoting good health and vitality. A few healthy vegetable options include:

  • Spinach
  • Radishes
  • Potatoes
  • Cabbages
  • Yellow Squash


Crickets are a favorite source of animal protein for hedgehogs but unlike mealworms, the protein content can be minimal. Putting a few live crickets in their food bowls could get hedgehogs to work immediately which may eliminate signs of boredom.


Waxworms are another great option for treating hedgehogs once in a while. The fat content can be high so waxworms should be served weekly to stave off obesity and associated risks.

Hardboiled Eggs

Hedgehogs love eating hard-boiled eggs once in a while and depending on their weight, you may remove the yolk or not. Hardboiled eggs offer excellent amounts of protein to boost the hedgehog’s growth and can be a great treat, especially for young hedgehogs recently weaned off their mother.

Cooked Lean Meats

Cooked lean meats could be served occasionally to hedgehogs even if it usually takes some time to get used to it. Grinding the meat before serving it to hedgehogs can make digestion easier and reduce the risks of choking.

Poultry products like chicken, turkey, and duck are the best options due to their high protein and low-fat content.

Conclusion: Should I Feed Hedgehogs Mealworms?

Avoid making mealworms a staple in your hedgehog’s diet because the results can be catastrophic for everyone. Not only are mealworms addictive but they may also expose hedgehogs to obesity and metabolic bone disease.

Hedgehogs should only eat mealworms weekly for the best results and avoid offering them more than 2 mealworms at a sitting. Crickets, waxworms, fruits, and vegetables are healthier alternatives for hedgehogs whenever they deserve treats.

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