14 Things You Can Feed a Hedgehog (and What to Avoid)

Last Updated: October 19, 2020

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.

divider-multipet

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.

  • Baby mice
  • Beetles
  • Caterpillar
  • Slugs
  • Snails
  • Worms
  • Small animals
  • Fruits and vegetables

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.

1. Crickets

fried crickets
Image Credit: ChristophMeinersmann, Pixabay

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.


2. Mealworms

Exotic Nutrition Mealworms Hedgehog Treats
Image Credit: Exotic Nutrition, Chewy

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.


3. Waxworms

Exotic Nutrition Wax Worms Canned Hedgehog Treats
Image Credit: Exotic Nutrition, Chewy

Waxworms are quite a bit higher in fat than the crickets or mealworms, so these should be an occasional treat.


4. Caterpillar

Exotic Nutrition Caterpillars Hedgehog Treats
Image Credit: Exotic Nutrition, Chewy

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.


5. Snails

Exotic Nutrition De-Shelled Snails Canned Hedgehog Treats
Image Credit: Exotic Nutrition, Chewy

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.


Gut Loading

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.

divider-hedgehog

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

Exotic Nutrition Hedgehog Complete Hedgehog Food
Image Credit: Exotic Nutrition, Chewy

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

Purina Cat Chow Naturals Original Dry Cat Food
Image Credit: Purina Cat Chow, Chewy

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

Blue Buffalo Wilderness
Image Credit: Blue Buffalo, Chewy

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

healthy baby food
Image Credit MapleHorizons, Pixabay

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

chicken breasts
Image Credit: manfredrichter, Pixabay

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 egg
Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

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.


12. Water

hedgehog drinking water
Image Credit: Tero Laakso, Flickr

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.


13. Fruits

fruits
Image Credit: Passion_Pics_Roben, Pixabay

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.


14. Vegetables

Broccoli carrots
Image Credit: RitaE, Pixabay

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.

divider-rodent

6 Foods Hedgehogs Should Avoid

Here are a few of the foods you should avoid giving your hedgehog.

  • Avocado – Avocado is toxic, and you should never feed it to your hedgehog.
  • Grapes – Grapes are also toxic to hedgehogs and should not them to your pet.
  • All Dried Fruits – Dried fruits of any kind are a potential choking hazard.
  • Potatoes – Potatoes provide no nutritional value to your hedgehog but are high in calories and carbohydrates, which can lead to obesity. Starchy vegetables are also hard for your hedgehog to digest.
  • Raw meat – Raw meat of any kind can carry dangerous bacteria like E Coli and Salmonella, and you should never feed it to
  • Milk – Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, so a diet that contains milk can lead to diarrhea. Some people suggest that yogurt may not cause the same reaction as milk, but it’s probably best to avoid it altogether unless it’s something your hedgehog enjoys.

divider-hedgehog

Summary

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