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14 Things You Can Feed a Hedgehog (and What to Avoid)
Hedgehogs are not commonly kept as pets, and many new parents may not have a clear idea of what types of foods are best to feed them and what foods you should avoid. We’ve researched this topic well and own several hedgehogs ourselves. We will list as many foods that they can eat as we can, as well as tell you a little about them and how to find them.
Join us while we look at the hedgehog and discuss their dietary requirements. We’ll cover how much protein and fat they need as well as what foods lead to obesity and other health problems for the hedgehog to help you maintain a healthy diet for your pet.
Foods Hedgehogs Eat in the Wild
The hedgehog is an omnivore and feeds on a variety of insects and small animals, as well as plants, berries, and vegetables. Some of the foods they like to eat in the wild are as follows.
Unfortunately, your pet hedgehog will not get the exercise that a wild hedgehog gets. Also, some of these foods are hard for the wild hedgehog to get, so they eat very little. Even though insects contain Chitlin, which is an important nutrient for hedgehogs, it can gain weight if fed too many, so it’s better to give these foods as treats.
You can find crickets live, freeze-dried, or canned. We recommend live crickets whenever possible because they provide mental stimulation as well as exercise while your pet is trying to catch them. Crickets provide Chitlin and are high in protein.
Mealworms are another insect you can purchase in multiple forms. Mealworms are even better than live crickets because you won’t need to worry about them jumping away, but they still move a lot and provide mental and physical stimulation for your pet. They also contain Chitlin and are high in protein.
Waxworms are quite a bit higher in fat than the crickets or mealworms, so these should be an occasional treat.
Caterpillars are another high-protein food that contain a high amount of fat. Since caterpillars are slow-moving, it’s usually fine to purchase the freeze-dried or canned versions and pass them out as treats on occasion.
Snails don’t provide Chitlin, but they are high in protein and low in fat. As treats go, snails are one of the better choices.
Related Read: Do Hedgehogs Eat Poop? What You Need to Know!
Before feeding many insects to your hedgehog, we strongly recommend gut loading the insects. Gut loading is a process where you feed your insect’s nutritional meals for a few days to pack it with nutrients, which allows the insects to transfer the nutrition to your pet. Gut loading is another good reason to feed your hedgehog live insects when possible.
- TIP – Pet hedgehogs should not eat too many insects. It can cause them to become overweight. You should only provide them as a treat every other day or so.
Best Foods to Feed Pet Hedgehogs
Pet hedgehogs should eat high-quality poultry-based meals that contain 25%-35% protein and 10%-15% fat.
6. Hedgehog food
Hedgehog food is naturally going to be one of the best choices because it will contain the correct balance of fat and protein, as well as provide important nutrients specific to your hedgehog’s health. There are many brands of hedgehog food available, but it can difficult to find, especially if you live in a rural area.
7. Dry Cat Food
Dry cat food is an excellent second choice, and many people recommend using cat food as their main food source due to its availability and high-quality ingredients. The thing to remember when buying cat food is to use a brand that has about 35% protein and 15% fat. You also want to make sure the first ingredient is chicken and not a meat byproduct or a carbohydrate.
8. Dry Dog Food
Dry dog food is as good as cat food if you follow the guidelines and purchase a brand with 35% protein and 15% fat that has real chicken as its main ingredient. Compared to cat food, it’s more of a challenge to find a good brand because dog food tends to have less protein. We have found with dog food that a lot more brands contain other types of poultry like turkey and duck, which is fine.
9. Baby Food
Baby food contains high-quality ingredients. Chicken, as well as several other flavors, make a great snack. It’s difficult to find out the percentages of protein and fat, so it’s best to relegate baby food to the snack or occasional meal.
10. Lean Meats
Lean meats like chicken and turkey can make a great snack, and since there is little fat, it will help you keep from putting weight on your pet. You cannot feed a hedgehog a diet of lean meat exclusively because they need other nutrients, but it does make a great addition to your pet’s diet. Be careful to fully cook the meat before feeding it to remove any harmful bacteria.
11. Hardboiled and scrambled eggs
Hardboiled and scrambled eggs are high in fat but also high in protein and make a great treat from time to time. You can make them healthier by removing the yolk before serving.
All life needs plenty of clean water to stay healthy, and the hedgehog is no different. We recommend you always keep a constant flow of clean water within the hedgehogs reach so they can stay hydrated at will, reducing urinary tract infections and other problems associated with dehydration.
Hedgehogs can eat most berries, and they are fond of apples. You can also find that your hedgehog likes bananas, cherries, peaches, watermelon, papaya, and kiwi. Fruits do provide plenty of vitamins and minerals important to your hedgehog’s health, but they are also high in sugar, so you need to give them in moderation.
Hedgehogs like vegetables, but they have a bit of difficulty digesting them, so if you do give your pet veggies, cut them into small pieces first. If the vegetable is hard like carrots or broccoli, cook it a bit first to soften it a little. Vegetables your hedgehog can eat include broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, corn, green peppers, and peas.
6 Foods Hedgehogs Should Avoid
Here are a few of the foods you should avoid giving your hedgehog.
Of the 14 foods we have listed as safe to feed your hedgehog, most would agree the high-quality cat food is the best choice as it’s inexpensive, easy to find, and contains all of the necessary ingredients in the proper ratios. If you have access and unlimited funds, hedgehog food is the obvious choice. Hedgehogs enjoy a varied meal, so you may want to stock up on several of these items. Keep a constant watch over your pet’s weight because hedgehogs love to eat and can quickly become obese.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over our short look into the diet of the exotic hedgehog. If you have found this information useful and it has helped you decide on a diet for your pet, please share these 14 things you can feed a hedgehog as well as which foods to avoid on Facebook and Twitter.
We’ve reviewed some of the best gear for hedgehogs, see our top picks here:
Featured Image: Best dog photo, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- Foods Hedgehogs Eat in the Wild
- Best Foods to Feed Pet Hedgehogs
- 6 Foods Hedgehogs Should Avoid