Are Hedgehogs Lactose Intolerant?

Are Hedgehogs Lactose Intolerant

Hedgehogs are small, spiny mammals that look like a cross between a porcupine and an ordinary mouse. They have become increasingly popular as pets in recent years, but what many people don’t know is if hedgehogs can tolerate lactose or not.

This article will explore whether hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, what causes this condition, and how to manage it if your pet has been diagnosed with lactose intolerance. We’ll also discuss the potential health risks associated with feeding dairy products to hedgehogs who suffer from this disorder. By the end of this article, you should have all the information you need to make an informed decision about what kind of diet is best for your furry friend.

Are Hedgehogs Lactose Intolerant?

The answer is yes, hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. This means that they cannot digest the sugar found in milk and other dairy products, resulting in digestive discomfort and possible health complications. It is important to note, however, that not all hedgehogs have this condition – some may be able to eat small amounts of dairy without any issues.

What Causes Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance occurs when the body does not produce enough of the enzyme known as lactase. This enzyme helps break down and process the lactose (milk sugar) found in dairy products. Without enough lactase present in a person’s or animal’s system, they will experience symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and vomiting after consuming dairy.

Managing Lactose Intolerance In Hedgehogs:

  • Switch to a diet with no dairy including specialized pet food made for animals who are lactose intolerant.
  • Provide nutritious alternatives like fresh vegetables and fruits instead of sugary treats or processed foods.
  • Check labels carefully on any store-bought snacks or treats you give your pet; many contain hidden sources of milk or other dairy products.

Understanding the Reasons for Hedgehog Lactose Intolerance

Hedgehogs are mammals that are lactose intolerant, meaning they do not produce the enzyme needed to break down dairy products. This is due to their diets in their natural habitat being mainly composed of insects and fruits which contain no lactose.

Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine does not produce enough of the enzyme called lactase. Without this enzyme, it becomes difficult for hedgehogs to digest milk or other dairy products, leading to digestive problems such as diarrhea, gas and bloating.

Potential Causes Of Hedgehog Lactose Intolerance

  • Genetics: Hedgehogs may be born with a genetic predisposition towards developing lactose intolerance.
  • Age: As hedgehogs age, they naturally lose some of their ability to break down dairy products. This can lead to an increased risk of digestive issues if they consume too much dairy.
  • Dietary Habits: The food choices made by a hedgehog can affect its ability to tolerate lactose. A diet high in processed foods can decrease the amount of enzymes available for digestion.
  • Illness: Certain illnesses such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease can cause an impairment in the production of enzymes needed for digestion and could lead to an inability to digest dairy products properly.

It is important for pet owners who own hedgehogs understand why these animals cannot tolerate dairy so that they can provide them with appropriate nutrition and take steps to prevent any potential health complications from occurring.

The Dangers of Feeding Milk to Hedgehogs

Feeding milk to hedgehogs can be dangerous and even deadly. While some hedgehogs may seem to tolerate milk, it is not a natural food for them, and it should never be given as part of their regular diet.

Why Is Milk Bad For Hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, meaning that they cannot digest the sugar found in milk. When a hedgehog consumes dairy products such as cow’s milk, yogurt or cheese, it can cause digestive problems including diarrhea and vomiting. In severe cases, this could lead to dehydration and even death.

In addition, many types of cow’s milk contain high levels of fat which can lead to obesity in hedgehogs. This puts them at risk for other health issues such as liver disease.

Alternatives To Cow’s Milk

  • Hedgehog Formula: There are specialized formulas available specifically formulated for hedgehog dietary needs. These formulas provide all the necessary vitamins and minerals while avoiding any potential risks associated with cow’s milk. Always consult your veterinarian before introducing new foods into your pet’s diet.
  • Water: Water is the ideal choice when it comes to hydration for your pet hedgehog. Fresh water should always be readily available for your pet.

The Impact of Milk on Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are small, insectivorous mammals found in parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. They feed mostly on insects, but can also consume other small animals such as frogs and lizards. Some hedgehogs have been known to eat plant material, eggs and even carrion.

Milk is a common food item for humans that provides essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. However, when it comes to hedgehog nutrition, milk should not be included in the diet. It has been found that cow’s milk can cause digestive problems in hedgehogs including diarrhea and vomiting. Furthermore, consuming too much dairy can lead to obesity.

Though hedgehogs do not naturally drink milk or consume other dairy products; some people will feed them with yogurt or cheese as treats. This is generally not recommended as these items may contain lactose which could upset their delicate digestive system.

Alternatives To Milk

  • Insects: offer an excellent source of protein for hedgehog diets
  • Fruits & Vegetables: provide essential vitamins & minerals
  • Specialty Diets: specially formulated diets are available for purchase from pet stores
  • Water: plain water should always be available for your pet


In conclusion, hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. This means that milk and other dairy products should be avoided when feeding a pet hedgehog. However, there is a range of appropriate alternative food sources that can provide your pet with the nutrition they need without causing digestive issues. With careful consideration, it’s possible to keep a healthy and happy hedgehog in spite of their lactose intolerance.


  • Frederick

    Frederick Faunce is an experienced and passionate hedgehog writer, blogger, and researcher. He has dedicated his life to understanding the conservation and care of hedgehogs, and is committed to educating and inspiring others to do the same.

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