Hedgehogs are carnivores, so they eat a wide selection of different animals in the wild. For the most part, these include insects of some sort, as well as the occasional small mammal. Usually, these creatures will hunt at night, as they are quite opportunistic.
In captivity, hedgehogs can be fed a variety of different insects. Nearly any insect that you can get your hands on is a good option. Crickets and mealworms seem to be the most common insects available to hedgehog owners, though, so they are the most popular. Hedgehogs are completely fine consuming crickets.
Before feeding crickets to your hedgehog, you should gut-load them. Basically, this means feeding them nutritious foods so their stomachs are full when they are eaten. This practice helps ensure that the hedgehogs are consuming enough nutrients when they eat crickets.
That said, crickets shouldn’t make up a hedgehog’s whole diet. While they do match what a hedgehog would naturally eat, these animals would be consuming a varied diet in the wild. In captivity, this diet can be hard to copy because there are only so many different kinds of insects available to use. For this reason, it is best to give your pet hedgehog specially formulated hedgehog food instead, which should contain all the nutrients that they need to thrive.
Are Crickets Healthy for Hedgehogs?
A small number of crickets are a good choice for hedgehogs. As long as you purchase these crickets for animal consumption, they should be safe for your hedgehog to eat. Do not capture them in your yard, as these may contain pesticides and other harmful materials.
You’ll need to purchase them from your local pet store or order live ones online.
The main benefit of crickets is that they provide entertainment for your hedgehog. Eating normal hedgehog food can get boring after a while. Therefore, it is best to keep them entertained with live insects occasionally.
However, crickets do not contain everything that these animals need to survive. In fact, they don’t contain much nutrition unless they are gut-loaded.
Many people point out that crickets are mostly just empty calories to hedgehogs. They are not good options to feed in large amounts. However, hedgehogs will likely burn more calories when chasing these crickets than they would get from actually consuming them.
Therefore, crickets can be quite healthy. However, you should always keep in mind that they shouldn’t make up all of your hedgehog’s diet.
How Do You Feed Crickets to Hedgehogs?
Figuring out how to feed crickets to hedgehogs can be understandably difficult, as crickets can jump quite far. However, your best bet is to put the hedgehog and cricket in a bathtub (without any water, of course). The cricket shouldn’t be able to jump high enough to escape, but the hedgehog should be able to run around just fine.
You may need to put a blanket or towel on the bottom so your hedgehog can get more traction. Just be sure it is flat so the cricket can’t hide in any grooves or underneath the blanket.
Then, simply let the hedgehog chase after the cricket. You should consider this more like a game, as it will take most hedgehogs quite a while to actually catch the cricket.
How Many Crickets Should You Feed a Hedgehog?
Crickets should not make up a hedgehog’s whole diet. Instead, they should only consume a couple at a time.
There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with crickets; they simply don’t contain all the nutrients that a hedgehog needs. Therefore, you want your hedgehog to mostly be consuming formulated food, which contains all the vitamins and minerals that they need.
You don’t want them to fill up on crickets so they won’t have any extra room for their actual food.
Usually, this means you only want to feed your hedgehog two or three crickets at a time. This treat shouldn’t be an everyday occasion, but you can feed them a couple of days a week, assuming that crickets are the only insects that your hedgehogs are getting.
If your hedgehogs are also getting other insects, you’ll want to take that into account.
That said, there are reports of hedgehogs suffering from impaction because of the hard shell of the cricket. However, we were unable to find any literature to support this. For the most part, this doesn’t seem to be a widespread issue.
Still, some owners choose to only feed crickets that have newly molted, which makes their skin softer. Whether you choose to do this is up to you.
Can I Feed My Hedgehog Freeze-Dried Crickets?
There isn’t anything wrong from a nutritional standpoint with feeding freeze-dried crickets to your hedgehog. These contain about the same nutrients that live crickets do..
However, freeze-dried crickets are much less fun to catch than live ones because they’re already dead. For this reason, we generally recommend providing live crickets. Otherwise, your hedgehog will not get the proper mental stimulation from eating the crickets, which is half the point of feeding the crickets!
We recommend that you view crickets as partially a game, not just a nutritional snack. Freeze-dried crickets may be good nutritional options, but they aren’t fun to eat.
Can a Hedgehog Overeat Crickets?
Hedgehogs aren’t well-known for their ability to control their food consumption. They will overeat whenever they get the chance, including things like crickets. Therefore, you should moderate their consumption.
There are a few problems that can pop up if your hedgehog eats too much. First, your hedgehog may eat too many crickets and won’t have enough room in their stomach for more nutritious food. Therefore, they may develop nutritional deficiencies over time.
Second, hedgehogs can develop obesity from consuming too much food. As you might imagine, this can happen with any kind of food, including crickets. This can negatively affect their health. They can become more prone to heart conditions and similar issues if they are obese.
In the wild, hedgehogs will naturally eat whatever insects they can find. In some cases, this might include crickets. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be fed tons of crickets in captivity.
When allowed to hunt for themselves, hedgehogs consume a wide variety of different insects, resulting in a varied and nutritious diet. That said, crickets alone do not make up a nutritious diet and should not exclusively be fed to your hedgehog.
Instead, you want your pet to mostly consume specially formulated hedgehog food. This should contain everything that your hedgehogs need to thrive.
Crickets should mostly be used as part of a stimulation activity. You want your hedgehog to have fun chasing crickets, just like they would in the wild. However, you should not make crickets a major part of their diet. They are treats.