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 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.
Yet, even though there are many commercial hedgehog foods out there, surprisingly, barely any of them are suitable for hedgehog diets.
A hedgehog foods need to be two things:
- High in protein
- Low in fat
Hedgehog Tip: When introducing new foods to your hedgehog, introduce them one at a time. It'll be easier to find out what food is upsetting your hedgehog's stomach
What Do Hedgehogs Eat?
The main food you feed your hedgehog should contain:
- Protein should be 28%-32%
- Fat should be lower than 10%
- Fiber should be no lower than 4% fiber
Good-quality Commercial Hedgehog Food Brands
Most commercial hedgehog foods do not meet the nutrition requirements of hedgehogs.
Feeding your hedgehog low quality food can lead to a sick and malnourished hedgehog. I don’t recommend commercial hedgehog foods for this reason.
A few good commercial hedgehog food 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-flavored foods upset hedgehogs’ stomachs.
Chicken flavor is the best flavor for hedgehogs.
Leftover meat and chicken should be chopped into small pieces before being given to your hedgehog. Never give your hedgehog raw meat.
The meat or chicken you give can be:
Don't give your hedgehog fried foods or fish.
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 above to find out 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:
- melon (Watermelon is a popular hedgehog treat, but keep in mind it’s pretty much all water & sugar; so it's not the best in terms of nutrition.)
- strawberries and other berries (Remove the skin from blueberries.)
- carrot (cooked or shredded)
- corn (small amounts)
- cucumber (pretty much all water, little nutritional value)
- dandelion greens
- green beans
- peppers (obviously not spicy ones; green/yellow/red bell peppers are good)
- sweet potato
The fruits and vegetables that you should not feed your hedgehog that are listed in the ‘What not to feed your hedgehog’ section below.
NOTE: Some breeders believe all fruits and vegetables are not good for hedgehogs. It's your choice whether or not you'd like to give your hedgehog fruits and vegetables.
I know this is pretty obvious, but it is important that your hedgehog has fresh, clean water available at all times.
What about treats?
For more on treats, see Giving Your Hedgehog 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 nutrition-less calories.
(See more about Hedgehog Obesity here.)
The best treats for your hedgehog are:
- Eggs (scrambled or boiled)
- 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.
What Not to Feed Your Hedgehog
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:
- Anything salty
- Anything seasoned
- Dairy products (other than small amounts of cottage cheese)
- Fried meat
- Junk food (a.k.a. chips, candy, chocolate, sugary foods, …etc.)
- Large amounts of peanut butter
- Nuts and seeds
- Raw meat or chicken
- The following fruits and vegetables:
- Citrus fruit and anything too acidic (This includes oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and also pomegranates and tomatoes)
- Dried fruit and vegetables (These are hard to chew and digest, which may cause an upset stomach)
- Grapes and raisins