Can Hedgehogs Eat Hornworms? Helpful Tips

If you are bringing home a new hedgehog, you might have several questions about its diet. For example: can hedgehogs eat hornworms and other insects? Let’s find out.

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When you are bringing home a pet hedgehog for the first time, you have a lot of things to worry about. What to feed them, what will they like? In this article, we will discuss if hornworms or other worms are good for your hedgehog.

 

Can Hedgehogs Eat Hornworms

 

Are Hornworms Nutritious For Hedgehogs?

The natural diet of wild hedgehogs includes worms, small insects, and plant material. These animals need a source of protein in their diet, which is why worms can be good for them.

Hornworms are a good source of food for hedgehogs. These worms have low fat, high calcium, a good amount of protein, and water content.

However, these worms do not contain chitin (because they have no exoskeleton), which is important for hedgehogs. For this reason, hornworms cannot be primary feeders for your hedgehog.

How To Store and Feed Hornworms?

Hornworms can grow quickly and reach their pupae stage in just three to four weeks. It is not a good idea to keep them as a feeder for more than a week.

When you are feeding the worms to your hedgehog, make sure that you squish their head. While they don’t have teeth, these worms can bite, so it’s best to make sure that you feed them when they are dead.

You can feed them one or two times a week as a source of protein for hedgehogs.

 

Can Hedgehogs Eat Hornworms

 

How To Maintain Hornworms?

Hornworms grow quickly, so if you want to keep them for longer, you need to make special arrangements.

To keep them from growing too fast or becoming too big, put these worms in the refrigerator and set the temperatures at around 55 F. This will slow their growth but not kill them.

You should not keep hornworms for more than three weeks in a fridge. If you have dead hornworms, dispose of them in a sealed bag or container.

Don’t release live feeder worms into your garden or the wild – they will quickly turn into moths, spread their eggs, and start eating any tomato plants that are around.

Can Hedgehogs Eat Live Worms?

Yes, hedgehogs can eat live worms. Wild hedgehogs can hunt and do eat live worms and insects all the time. They are capable of doing the same when you are feeding them.

You can offer live worms when you are feeding your hedgehog at home. But some of them, like hornworms, will tend to bite, so it is a good idea to squish their heads before offering them to hedgehogs.

What Other Insects and Bugs Can Hedgehogs Eat?

Hedgehogs can feed on a number of insects and tiny organisms. Worms can be nice occasional treats for them. Here are some of the more common types of food that you can offer them:

  • Wax Worms
  • Super Worms
  • Dubia Roaches
  • Butter Worms
  • Wax Worms
  • Crickets and Grasshoppers
  • Silkworms

Don’t eat too many worms, especially wax worms to hedgehogs, because they contain a lot of fat. You should also keep a check on their weight to see if their diet is causing them to become obese.

 

Can Hedgehogs Eat Hornworms

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How often can hedgehogs eat hornworms?

Hedgehogs can eat hornworms up to three times per week. These worms are low on fat and can work as a protein and calcium supplement. Hornworms should not be a staple for your hedgehog, but these can be good as treats.

What can hedgehogs not eat?

Hedgehogs are omnivores; they can eat a variety of foods. However, some foodstuffs you should avoid giving them.

Do not feed your hedgehogs avocado, bread, milk, raisins, and citrus fruits. You should also avoid feeding them tinned foods, biscuits, and snacks meant for cats or dogs.

Can hedgehogs eat tomato worms?

Yes, it is safe for hedgehogs to eat tomato worms which are nothing but hornworms. Hedgehogs can eat most types of live worms and insects.

As a pet owner, it is important to store whatever worms you are feeding them at a safe temperature, so they are viable for the hedgehogs to feed on.

Can you cut hornworms in half?

Yes, cutting them in half is another way to prepare them before feeding them to a hedgehog. However, these bugs are very large and have a lot of water content. It is likely that there is going to be a lot of mess if you cut them.

But if your hornworms have grown too large and you don’t want them biting your hedgehog, cutting them in half is one way of doing it.

Conclusion

When you are becoming a parent to a hedgehog, you need to understand their diet and other aspects of keeping them healthy.

Hornworms can be a nice addition to a hedgehog’s diet, but make sure to buy them from a quality dealer, store them properly and feed them as a snack, not as a primary feeder.

Thank you for reading! 

 

 

 

Reader Emails

Over the years, our readers have sent us several emails on this topic. Please go through them below.

Letter 1 – Hornworm: Smerinthus ophthalmica

 

Subject:  Large green caterpillar with blue tail.
Geographic location of the bug:  City of Lake Forest Park, WA
Date: 07/15/2019
Time: 08:26 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This thing fell out of a willow tree onto our deck on 7-15-2019.  It has a yellow band around its head and a blue horn near its rear.  A close match I found is the Limehawk Moth caterpillar, but it’s on the wrong continent for that (indigenous to UK), and the rear end is different.  I have it contained until I can positively ID it and that it’s not invasive or harmful.
How you want your letter signed:  Greg Goebel

Hornworm: Smerinthus ophthalmica

Dear Greg,
We identified your Hornworm from the family Sphingidae as
 Smerinthus ophthalmica based on images on the Sphingidae of the Americas site.  Alas this beautiful moth has no common name, and we believe this might be our first image of a Hornworm from this species posted to our site.

Hornworm: Smerinthus ophthalmica

Letter 2 – Hornworm from South Africa: Hippotion osiris

 

Subject: What is this larva?
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
December 11, 2016 10:46 am
This larva is in a garden in South Africa. It is currently summer, I’m not sure what tree it is on.
Any help would be appreciated.
Signature: Yahya Atiya

Hornworm:  Hippotion osiris
Hornworm: Hippotion osiris

Dear Yahya,
Thanks to this image on iSpot, we feel quite confident your Hornworm is
Hippotion osiris.   According to Sphingidae of the Western Palaearctic where the moth is known as the Greater Silver-Striped Hawkmoth:  “Major Hostplants. In Africa, principally Vitis and Parthenocissus spp.  Minor Hostplants. In Africa, Rumex, Polygonum, Impatiens, Cissus, Ipomoea, Spathodea, Fuchsia and various Rubiaceae.”

Letter 3 – Isognathus leachii Hornworm from Mexico

 

Subject:  Isognathus leachii
Geographic location of the bug:  Puerto Vallarta
Date: 09/04/2017
Time: 08:59 PM EDT
This is a follow up on “Hornworm eating Plumeria in Mexico“. Attached are some additional images for your website. We are in the middle of the rain season and they are almost on every plumeria.
How you want your letter signed:  JM

Hornworm: Isognathus leachii

Dear JM,
Thanks for providing additional images of the
Isognathus leachii Hornworm.

Hornworms: Isognathus leachii

Letter 4 – Paper Wasps attack Hornworm

 

Subject: Hornworm being attacked by Paper Wasps
Location: Miami, FL, USA
April 4, 2013 4:04 pm
I saw a half dozen paper wasps attacking the head of a fairly large hornworm. Have you ever heard of this behavior? (I cannot imagine them carrying it off, it was 4 inches long).
Signature: Steve W.

Hornworm attacked by Paper Wasps
Hornworm attacked by Paper Wasps

Dear Steve,
This Tobacco Hornworm appears to be eating a tomato plant, and it has “oblique whitish lateral lines”, so we suspect it might be
Manduca sexta, the Carolina Sphinx.  See BugGuide for additional information.  The Paper Wasps are in the genus PolistesPaper Wasps will attack caterpillars and skin them, transporting the balled up flesh to the nest where it is fed to the developing larvae.  They do not intend to carry off this Tobacco Hornworm.  We suspect they will work as a crew and bite off sections of the Tobacco Hornworm to carry it off to the nest.

Letter 5 – Parasitized Hornworm

 

Subject: Is this a momma with her babies?
Location: Holly Springs, MS.
September 6, 2015 6:36 pm
Hi Bugman!
I saw these little white “things” on my boxwood bush and thought for a split second something had flowered. Upon closer inspection this was a large green caterpillar with a serious looking spike on its tail. I wondered if these are babies attached to her? She was VERY AGGRESSIVE when I tried to handle her. I carefully placed her back on the bush after these pics!
Signature: Stephanie Berry (former bug queen of the day)

Hornworm Parasitized by Braconids
Hornworm Parasitized by Braconids

Dear Stephanie,
Your caterpillar is a Hornworm in the family Sphingidae, and as the caterpillar is a larva, it is not able to reproduce until it becomes a winged adult moth.  This Hornworm has been parasitized by a Braconid Wasp, and the white “things” are the wasp pupae.  The larval Braconid Wasps have been internally feeding on the Hornworm, which is eaten alive.  The adult Braconid Wasps will soon emerge and the Hornworm will die before becoming an adult.  We have not been able to identify the species of Hornworm and we cannot find any information on Hornworms feeding on Boxwood.

Thank you for all the wonderful information!  That’s so sad that the caterpillar was being eaten alive 🙁
I’ve lived here almost 13 years and this is the first time I’ve seen one of these.
Thank you for all you do!!

Letter 6 – Parasitized Hornworm from Guatemala

 

Subject:  Catapiller in guatemalia
Geographic location of the bug:  San Pedro
Date: 11/07/2017
Time: 04:49 PM EDT
I am studing  in San Pedro and saw this huge catapiller. Any idea what it is
How you want your letter signed:  Cris

What killed the Hornworm????

Dear Cris,
This is a Hornworm in the family Sphingidae, though it is a species that loses the caudal horn when molting, leaving a caudal bump at the tail end of the insect.  Furthermore, it is dead.  We are not certain if it is the victim of an internal parasite, or if it was preyed upon by a predator that sucks fluids from the body of its prey like a Predatory Stink Bug.  We believe we have identified the caterpillar as that of the Gaudy Sphinx Moth,
Eumorpha labruscae, based on images of the caterpillar posted to The Sphingidae of the Americas.  This is a caterpillar that is thought by many to mimic a snake to protect it from birds.  Sphingidae of the Americas notes:  “There is a striking resemblance to a snake’s head and eye, and a flattening of the thoracic segments when the head is not retracted.”  We received similar images from you and from Ken who wrote:  “A friend sent me these photos from somewhere in Guatemala, taken today.  Any idea?”  We are presuming you are the photographer, though we used the image provided by Ken as it was horizontal in format, an orientation we prefer on our site.

Thank you Daniel, for your detailed response, it was still moving but looked sick. I am studing spanish in guatemalia and it was at my school, will check its condition today. Thank you again

7 thoughts on “Can Hedgehogs Eat Hornworms? Helpful Tips”

  1. Interesting finding! – First, the caterpillar seemed like a younger stage of a Sphinx species to me. Sphinx drupiferarum or gordius, I thought. But its roundish head (without any black markings, typical for all those species), shape of its stigmae and the broad white markings of the lateral stripes rather speak for a young Dolba hyloeus (Pawpaw sphinx) larva. I guess the plant called boxwood in Your area is a holly (Ilex sp.). Thanks for sharing! Best wishes,

    Reply

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