IMPORTANT: This is for adult African Pygmy Hedgehogs. For baby hedgehogs, read this post.
Hedgehogs are natural insectivores (insect eaters), but this doesn’t mean that you need to buy and feed your hedgehog bugs and insects. But if not, fresh insects, what do you feed your hedgehog?
Commercial foods are the first hedgehog feeding options to come to mind. However, even though there are many commercial hedgehog foods out there, surprisingly, barely any of them are suitable for hedgehog diets. A hedgehog needs a high protein, low-fat diet. Some good-quality cat food is a good substitute.
A hedgehog needs a high protein, low-fat diet. Some good-quality cat food is a good substitute.
*NOTE: When introducing new foods to your hedgehog, introduce them one at a time. If a particular food is upsetting your hedgehog’s stomach, this will make it easier to identify which food is causing the disturbance.
What do Hedgehogs Eat?
The main food you feed your hedgehog should contain 28%-32% of protein content. The amount of fat should be lower than 10%, and the food should contain a minimum of 4% fiber.
Consider feeding your hedgehog one of the following:
Good-quality commercial hedgehog food brands.
Most commercial hedgehog food does not meet the nutrition requirements of hedgehogs, which can lead to a sick and malnourished hedgehog. I don’t recommend commercial hedgehog foods for this reason.
A few good commercial options are:
Dried or tinned cat or kitten food
Dried cat food is a better option than tinned cat food. If you will be feeding your hedgehog cat food, DO NOT give them fish flavor. Fish and fish flavor foods usually upset hedgehogs’ stomachs.
Chicken flavor is the best flavor for hedgehogs.
Leftover meat (NEVER fish)
Leftover meat and chicken should be chopped into small pieces before being given to your hedgehog. Never give your hedgehog raw meat. Cooked, boiled, or grilled meats are OK, but never raw.
Bugs and Insects
Hedgehogs are insectivores and really do love insects. Insects are wild hedgehogs’ main diet.
Your hedgehog will do fine on dried cat food or commercial hedgehog foods, but adding variety to their diet is a great idea.
The most common insects in a wild hedgehog’s diet are:
- Wax Worms
- NEVER give your pet hedgehog slugs or snails. Slugs and snails can carry lungworm, which can kill your hedgehog.
- See the chart on the right to see what insects wild hedgehogs eat most.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables can be giving to hedgehogs as treats, but not all fruits and vegetables are safe for hedgehogs to eat. Vegetables should be boiled or steamed and softened before they are given to your hedgehog. Fruits are softer than vegetables and don’t need to be boiled.
- (Read more about hedgehog treats here.)
- Here is a list of the safe fruits and vegetables that are safe for your hedgehog:
- strawberries (and other berries, though it’s recommended to remove the skin from blueberries)
- melon (watermelon tends to be popular, but keep in mind it’s pretty much all water/sugar; generally best used in moderation)
- carrot (cooked; too hard when raw, except possibly as thin salad-style shavings)
- sweet potato
- green beans
- dandelion greens
- cucumber (pretty much all water, little nutritional value)
- peppers (obviously not spicy ones; green/yellow/red bell peppers are good)
- corn (small amounts)
The fruits and vegetables that you should not feed your hedgehog that are listed in the ‘What not to feed your hedgehog’ section below.
I know this is pretty obvious, but it is important that your hedgehog has fresh, clean water available at all times.
What about treats?
Scattering treats around your hedgehog’s cage will encourage your hedgehog to forage, just like it would in its natural environment.
Giving treats to your hedgehog is also a great way to bond with your hedgehog.
The best treats are those that have some kind of nutritional value in them. Hedgehogs can become obese, so keep that in mind if you are feeding nutritionless calories.
The best treats for your hedgehog are:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Baby foods (Stage 2 baby foods only contain cornstarch and water (a flavor). Higher stages have harmful ingredients that should be avoided.
- Cottage cheese (small amounts)
- Ferret treats
You can give your hedgehog a few treats every day. Never allow the treats to replace your hedgehog’s main diet. Treats should only be given in small amounts.
Some foods can harm your hedgehog. Some can cause diarrhea, some can upset your hedgehog’s stomach, and others can get stuck on the roof of his or her mouth, causing both irritation and tooth decay. The following foods should never be presented to your hedgehog:
- Raw meat or chicken
- The following fruits and vegetables:
- Citrus fruit and anything too acidic (This includes oranges/lemons/limes/grapefruit and also pomegranates, tomatoes)
- dried fruit and vegetables (these can be hard to chew and digest, which may cause an upset stomach)
- Anything seasoned
- Anything salty
- Junk food (a.k.a. chips, candy, chocolate, sugary foods, …etc.)
- Nuts and seeds
- Large amounts of peanut butter
- Dairy products (other than small amounts of cottage cheese)
- Fried meat
How Much Should I Feed my Hedgehog?
Most hedgehogs eat 1-2 tablespoons of food a day. Some hedgehogs are more active than others and will eat more.
Hedgehogs can become obese, but that is due to large amounts of fat in the hedgehog’s diet rather than over-eating. Hedgehogs will stop eating when they are full. Providing your hedgehog with a wheel will lower the risk of obesity for your hedgehog.
Feeding Wild Hedgehogs
Do you have a hedgehog visiting your garden every now and then?
Feeding the hedgehog will surely encourage it to come back. You can set out small amounts of minced meat (cooked, unseasoned, NOT fish), tinned or dried cat food (if tinned, you should make sure it’s fresh), cat biscuits, dried mealworms, or fresh water. Don’t feed them bread or milk. If a cat, dog, fox, or raccoon is eating your hedgehog’s food, try putting the food under a ridge tile or a platform to prevent any other animals from getting to it.
What do you feed your hedgehog? Does he/she have a favorite food or treat? Tell us in the comments below!