Did you know that hedgehogs can’t drink cows milk? I never realised I had so much in common with our spiny friends. Cow’s milk is very bad for Mr and Mrs Tiggywinkle because they can’t digest it; their stomachs don’t contain the right enzymes to process lactose.
They can however, drink goats milk; lucky hedgehogs and other animals at the local wildlife sanctuary near where I live (Mrs Tiggywinkles) even get raw goats milk, something few people drink in England, but which is really growing in popularity.
Cow’s milk contains lactose, a natural sugar, which cannot be digested by hedgehogs. Larger mammals such as cats and us humans cope with it without too many problems because of our size. Some people however have an intolerance or allergy to cow’s milk. If this is you then you’re the normal one. The milk drinkers are the mutants! Check out the link below to another post, “Can’t drink milk – you’re normal!”
For small mammals, drinking cow’s milk can actually be fatal. The smaller the mammal, the more problems it can cause; it gives them gastroenteritis and diarrohea and out in the wild it doesn’t take long for them to become too ill to defend themselves or too cold to survive.
Bread is no good either as it fills the animal up but does not have much goodness in it. The animal feels as if it has eaten plenty, but lacks the vitamins and minerals that it needs to stay healthy. Add this to being given milk and it doesn’t take long for a Hedgehog to become ill quickly. They can get very cold quite quickly too so if you find a sick hedgehog keep it warm with an old jumper you don’t need anymore in a cardboard box and take it to your local vet or wildlife sanctuary.
So there you go. Hedgehogs and other small mammals should eat a gluten and dairy free diet, just like you, me, and everyone with allergies, intolerances and coeliac disease. Remember, don’t give hedgehogs milk if you see one in your garden. A saucer of water and some cat biscuits or cat food would be fine for them, or they love slugs and snails if you can find any of them in your garden!