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Can Hedgehogs Eat Cat Food? What You Need to Know!

hedgehog eating cat food

Hedgehogs are growing in popularity as pets in the United States and you recently brought home a cute and spiny hedgehog to join your pet family. You want to make sure that you’re taking proper care of this new and exotic member of your menagerie so you’re looking for the best food to feed your hedgehog. During your searches, you’ve discovered that many people recommend cat food? Huh? Cat food? Really? Can hedgehogs eat cat food? We’re here to answer that question and to help you make you’re feeding your hedgehog a diet to keep it healthy.

divider-hedgehogCan Hedgehogs Eat Cat Food?

For many years there were no commercial food options for hedgehogs as they were not a popular pet. Many owners fed their hedgehogs cat food as an acceptable substitute because it contained sufficient protein for a hedgehog’s diet and is small enough for them to chew. Due to their increased popularity as pets, however, there are now food pellets on the market that will better meet the specific dietary needs of hedgehogs. Many veterinarians recommend feeding your hog a pellet produced specifically for hedgehogs and supplementing it with a variety of insects. So, yes, hedgehogs can eat cat food, but the question becomes: should you feed your hog eat cat food when there are hedgehog foods now available on the market? It would be best to discuss the options for your hog’s diet with your veterinarian, so you know you’re feeding it the best diet for growth and health.

hedgehog surrounded with fruits
Image Credit: MarinaTr, Shutterstock

What Types of Food Do Hedgehogs Eat in the Wild?

Hedgehogs are insectivores, meaning they eat insects, but they also will eat a variety of different food in the wild. They eat snakes, fish, mollusks, such as worms (worms and snails), bird eggs, amphibians, carrion, roots, berries, mushrooms, and berries. This diverse diet can be replicated for domesticated hedgehogs using a food pellet formulated for hedgehogs and with supplemental feeding of insects.

What Pellets Should I Feed My Hedgehog?

The first item for a healthy diet for your hedgehog is a pellet food formulated for hedgehogs. Exotic Nutrition Hedgehog Complete Hedgehog Food is a veterinarian-recommended pellet containing 35% crude protein that also contains dried mealworms to create a food that is vitamin-rich for your pet. If you’re looking for a pellet that has slightly less protein and a higher fat content, Mazuri Hedgehog Diet offers a pellet that is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. Hedgehogs that enjoy berries as part of a high-protein diet may enjoy Exotic Nutrition Berries & Bugs Sugar Glider & Hedgehog Food.

Hedgehog Eating
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

What Other Foods Should I Feed My Hedgehog?

Besides protein-rich pellet food, it is also important to feed your hedgehog insects and some fresh fruits and vegetables to make sure it has a well-rounded diet.

Here is a list of foods that you can supplement your hedgehog’s pellet diet with:
  • Crickets: These could be bought at most pet stores either live or freeze-dried. They are a good source of chitin and entertainment as hedgehogs will enjoy hunting them as prey.
  • Mealworms: They can also be bought as either live or freeze-dried and are a good source of chitin as well. Mealworms can also be a form of mental stimulation for your hog as it will have to catch the worm to eat it.
  • Earthworms- They are considered nutritious and will also be a fun treat if your hog to catch and eat.
  • Waxworms- These worms have a higher fat content and should be given as a special treat to your hedgehog.
  • Vegetables: Veggies can be given in small amounts to your hedgehog. Carrots, corn, beans, and peas are all suitable to be given to hogs to supplement their pellet.
  • Fruits: Berries, apples, and melons are some fruits that your hedgehog will enjoy. Fruit can be high in sugar, so be careful not to feed too much to your hog to avoid diabetes and obesity.

A Note About Insects

Insects are considered an important part of a hedgehog’s diet because chitin, the hard exoskeleton found on many insects, is an excellent source of protein for them. Your hedgehog will need to be fed store-bought bugs as part of a regular diet. Do not feed your pet wild bugs as they may contain toxins, such as fertilizers. You can dust the bugs with a nutritional powder to help gut load the insects to provide your hedgehog with the best nutrition.

divider-hedgehogConclusion

Hedgehogs can be fed cat food if there are no other options available, but many veterinarians are now recommending that owners feed their hedgehogs commercially available pellets that meet the exact nutritional needs of hogs. Pellets should be supplemented with live or freeze-dried insects, as well as some vegetables and fruits to give your hedgehog a well-rounded diet. If you’re still not sure about the best foods to feed your hedgehog, reach out to your veterinarian to help you create a diet that works for both you and your hog.

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Featured Image Credit: pasSsy, Shutterstock

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