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. 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.
*NOTE: When introducing new foods to your hedgehog you introduce them one at a time. If a particular food is upsetting your hedgehog’s stomach, this will make it easy to identify which food is causing it.
What do Hedgehogs Eat?
The main food you feed your hedgehog should contain a protein content of between 28%-32%. The amount of fat should be lower than 10%, and the food should contain a minimum of 4% fiber.
Dried or tinned cat or kitten food
If you plan to feed your hedgehog cat food, NEVER give them fish flavor; chicken flavor is best. Dried cat food is preferred.
Leftover meat (again – 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
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. Hedgehogs are insectivores and really do love insects. The most common insects in a wild hedgehog’s diet are:
- Meal worms
- Silk worms
- Wax worms
- NEVER give your pet hedgehog slugs or snails. Slugs and snails can carry lungworm, which can kill your hedgehog.
Fruits and Vegetables
Not all fruits and vegetables are safe for hedgehogs eat. Fruits are softer than vegetables. Vegetables should be boiled or steamed and softened before they are given to your hedgehog. Here isa list of the safe fruits and vegetables that your hedgehog can eat:
- carrot (cooked; too hard when raw, except possibly as thin salad-style shavings)
- sweet potato
- green beans
- melon (watermelon tends to be popular, but keep in mind it’s pretty much all water/sugar; generally best used in moderation)
- dandelion greens
- cucumber (pretty much all water, little nutritional value)
- strawberries (and other berries, though it’s recommended to remove the skin from blueberries)
- 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.
Some 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.
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 a great way to bond with your hedgehog, but you shouldn’t give your hedgehog too many treats. The best treats are those that have some kind of nutrition in them. Hedgehogs can become obese, so keep that in mind if you are feeding nutrition-less 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
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, anything sugary)
- 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 meal worms, 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!