How to Gut Load Mealworms for Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are insectivores and need a steady supply of protein to thrive. Mealworms, or larva that have been fed with grains and given bedding like oats, wheat bran, and cornmeal, provide an excellent source of protein for them. These tasty little critters can be gut-loaded to maximize the nutritional benefits they offer your pet.

But if you’re looking for a more sustainable option, this article will teach you how to gut load your mealworms before feeding them to your hedgehog. This way, they can’t reproduce and help control the population of these invertebrates in your area. So follow these easy steps below on how to gut load mealworms for hedgehogs to create a nutritious mealworm treat for your hedgehog! 

Why Gut Load Mealworms?

There are several reasons to gut load your live feeder insects. Mealworms, in particular, are high in protein and fat. Protein is essential for building muscle but can be challenging to obtain from plant matter alone. Fat is the other macronutrient needed by herbivores (plant eaters).

Mealworms are difficult to gut load with anything other than commercial feed like cricket quencher or cricket gel. A source of fat can be rolled oats or dry cat food/dog food. An excellent commercial cricket quencher is Repashy CGD, available in most reptile pet stores, some bird shops, and online reptile suppliers.

How to Gut Load Mealworms for Hedgehogs

10 Ways on How to Gut Load Mealworms for Hedgehogs:

1) Banana and Mealworms

Just feeding a banana to your hedgehog with some mealworms seems to be enough of an appetite stimulant that the worms are usually quickly consumed. The banana serves as a delicious treat and provides potassium and fiber. It will turn the mealworms more yellow if they are dusted in calcium or vitamin powders.

2) Mealworm Popsicles

These popsicles are a big hit for many hedgehogs, and often the worms will be eagerly eaten as soon as they’ve been defrosted. However, be sure not to freeze them too long, or they will become solid ice cubes that your hedgie won’t want to eat!

3) Chinese Water Chestnuts

Chinese water chestnuts are a great source of fiber that can help aid in digestion. They happen to go well with mealworms, and your hedgie will be very happy for the occasional treat of them all mixed.

4) Mealworm Kabobs

Cut some mealworms in half or thirds, skewer them on a toothpick or kabob skewer, and dust the worms in a calcium powder. Your hedgie will love being able to eat these straight off of the stick!

5) Canned Pumpkin

Canned pumpkin is a cheap way to add some extra fiber to your hedgehog’s diet. It can be mixed with worms (be sure to de-worm them first) or mixed in with applesauce, mashed sweet potato, or other foods your hedgehog enjoys.

 banana slices to give mealworms a treat that is cold and refreshing! Make sure these are thawed before feeding, though.

6) Frozen Banana Cubes

Freeze some banana slices to give mealworms a cold and refreshing treat! Make sure these are thawed before feeding, though. Otherwise, your hedgehog may have a hard time eating them. This is also a great way to add fiber and potassium to your hedgie’s diet.

7) Mealworms with Ferretone or Fish Oil

This is a great treat for your hedgehog if they are especially picky and refuse to eat mealworms otherwise. Squeeze out some Ferretone or add some fish oil (for scent) to the worms, mix well, and offer them on your finger. Be sure to only leave the mixture with your hedgie for about 10 minutes because Ferretone can be toxic if ingested.

8) Mealworm Applesauce

Add mealworms to your hedgehog’s favorite applesauce, or even offer some plain worms on their own with a bit of applesauce in the dish for them to swim in. This is a quick and easy way to get your hedgehog to eat some extra fiber and some calcium or vitamin powders.

9) Mealworm/Millet Mix

This is a good treat for your hedgehogs if they are expecting babies. The millet provides extra protein, the mealworms add some healthy fatty acids, and you can add in supplements such as Vitamin A or D3 if you want to.

10) Blueberries and Mealworms

Put some blueberries in a container. Pour some mealworms over the top, and let them sit for about an hour. Then give your hedgie the blueberries and worms, and watch them gobble them both up!

NOTE: Moderation is key for any item (especially those high in fat, such as mealworms). Do not overfeed your hedgehog treats like this because it could upset their digestive system or cause obesity.

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How Do You Gut Load Mealworms?

Step 1:

Purchase some fresh mealworms from your local pet store or online retailer company! They’re usually available at most retailers carrying food products for pets.  

Step 2:

Place the worms into a plastic container with holes on top so they can breathe. Poke some holes all around the container; otherwise, you’ll have difficulty getting inside to feed your hedgehog!

Step 3:

Add in some high-fiber vegetables or greens such as carrots, celery, and peas; anything with lots of fiber is good! Mix well, and then put the top back on.  

Step 4:

Let the mealworms soak in that good stuff overnight, and then feed to your hedgehog the next day!

Tips and Advice:

Place the worms into a plastic container with holes on top so they can breathe.

1. Insects should be gut-loaded 24 hours before feeding.

2. Avoid using supplements that contain fat, protein, or fiber (e.g., spirulina, fish oil, dried kelp), except for calcium carbonate

3. Insects should be moist and fresh, not dried out.

4. Insects should be lightly dusted with a calcium carbonate supplement (e.g., cuttlebone) before feeding; however, we recommend using supplementation sparingly as it can cause diarrhea if overused.

5. Only offer healthy animals and of appropriate weight the prey items

6. Gut-loading is not necessary with high-quality commercial diets.

7. Avoid gut-loading insects that may be contaminated (e.g., feeder insects raised on contaminated substrate or water, wild-caught insects)


The process of gut loading mealworms for hedgehogs is relatively simple. If you want to try it, just purchase a small container of live mealworms from your local pet store or online retailer. Make sure each worm has its own space in the jar because they are social creatures and will not do well if crowded together.

This blog post has covered the basics of how to gut load mealworms for hedgehogs. We hope it has been informative and you feel more prepared to feed your pet! If not, please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns about caring for a hedgehog!

Jennifer Branett
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