It’s very important to get to know what foods are best for your pet hedgehog’s diet, and which foods can cause harm.
So, what do hedgehogs eat? Hedgehogs are insectivores, and in the wild, their diet is mainly composed of insects (thought they will eat pretty much any food they can find). Luckily, domesticated hedgehogs do not require insects (although hedgehogs do love an occasional insect as a treat!)
In fact, hedgehog food is very inexpensive due to the fact that they only need between 1-2 tablespoons of food per day, depending on their size, with their primary food being something very simple and easy to find… cat food!
Now, we’ll get into the details of dietary restrictions, hedgehog food guidelines, and the best types of foods for your pet hedgehog.
You can also take a look at our overview hedgehog food list, here, that you can even print out to use as an easy guideline to the foods that you should and shouldn’t feed your pet hedgehog.
Hedgehog Diet Restrictions
Hedgehogs have somewhat sensitive digestive systems and can become obese easily, so it’s important to know what types of foods can be harmful to your pet hedgehog and what to avoid.
- Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, so it’s important to avoid most dairy products. They can have small amounts of yogurt and cottage cheese no more than once per week
- Hedgehogs can eat meat, however you should avoid excess amounts of red meats and fatty meats due to the low-fat diet requirements of hedgehogs
- Although hedgehogs do eat mainly insects in the wild, avoid bait shop insects because they can contain toxic insecticides.
- Some fruits, including grapes and raisins, are harmful to hedgehogs.
- Do not feed your hedgehog nuts – they are not digested well by hedgehogs, and are very difficult for them to chew.
Hedgehog Food Guidelines
There are some basic guidelines to follow to make sure that your hedgehog is being fed the proper nutrients. This includes:
- Hedgehogs need a diet high in protein and low in fat, similar to the ratio in the wild where they feed primarily off insects.
- Hedgehogs like variety, so incorporate small amounts of safe snack foods listed below into their meals from time to time
What to Feed Your Hedgehog
There are a few different primary food options for hedgehogs. Again, while they eat mainly insects in the wild, the main portion of your hedgehog’s diet should be dry foods that have a similar fat to protein ratio.
Primary food options
1. Hedgehog food formulas
Pet stores sell dry food made specifically to meet the hedgehog’s insectivore diet requirements. Some brands make a great option since the food is designed specifically for your pet hedgehog, however many breeders do not recommend most brands of hedgehog foods because they believe they are not made with quality ingredients. Keep the following points in mind when selecting a hedgehog food formula:
- Hedgehog food formulas are a little bit harder to find that cat food
- This food is a little bit more expensive than a dry cat food
- Not all hedgehog foods are made for all types of hedgehogs. Make sure that the type of hedgehog food you buy is appropriate for your species of hedgehog (In most cases, pet hedgehogs are African Pygmy Hedgehogs.)
There are only a couple of brands that come highly recommended for hedgehog food:
2. High protein, low fat dry cat food
Cat food is a great choice for hedgehogs because the protein to fat ratio is very similar to that required by an insectivore’s diet. Most breeders highly recommend using a cat food over a hedgehog-specific food. A couple points to keep in mind when selecting a cat food:
- Choose adult cat food. Although the kibbles may be larger than kitten food, baby cat food is high in fat and is not healthy for hedgehogs.
- The food should contain a minimum of 30% protein and more than 15% fat.
Many breeders recommend mixing a few different cat foods together to ensure that your hedgehog receives a well-rounded diet. Some brands that follow the guidelines above and come highly recommended by breeders:
- Blue Buffalo Blue Freedom Indoor
- Blue Buffalo Weight Control Formula
- Natural Balance Pet Food Alpha Formula
- Natural Balance Green Pea and Duck Formula
- Merrick Before Grain #1 Chicken
(For more options, check out a complete chart of acceptable cat foods from Hedgehog Central, here.)
Additional food options
These foods can be fed to your hedgehog in addition to dry food to ensure that your hedgehog is getting a balanced diet and to add a little bit of variety into their meal time. However, these foods should be served in small amounts (no more than a teaspoon per serving, according to the reputable breeders at Blissful Quills Hedgehogs), 3-4 days per week.
Fruits and vegetables
Hedgehogs love an occasional fruit treat. However, some fruits can be harmful to hedgehogs. Keep the following in mind when feeding your pet hedgehog fruit:
- Do not feed your hedgehog grapes or raisins.
- Do not feed your hedgehog large amounts of fruit, because they contain a high amount of sugar.
Hedgehogs can eat most types of meat. Here are a few guidelines of what to avoid:
- Never feed a hedgehog raw meat.
- Meat should be cooked without seasoning, using any method other than frying.
- Do not feed your hedgehog processed or canned meat
- Crickets, silkworms or mealworms are the best types of insects for pet hedgehogs
- Ensure that the insects are farm-raised. You can find these types of insects at pet stores.
- Never feed your hedgehog insects from your garden or from a bait shop. These insects can contain poisonous insecticides and chemicals.
Baby food makes an excellent treat for hedgehogs because they contained already-prepared and easy to digest fruits, vegetables, and meats.
According to the breeders at Hedgehog Headquarters, Gerber Stage 2 baby foods, especially Meat in Gravy flavor, is a favorite of many hedgehogs. They warn against feeding your pet hedgehog any baby food labeled above Stage 2, because of the added sugar content and other ingredients.
Some of the links on this page are Amazon “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services that have very positive user reviews, that I believe will add value to my readers and that are safe for your hedgehogs. Thank you so much for your support!