When you own a hedgehog pet for the very first time, you often ask yourself what do hedgehogs eat? Hedgehogs have a unique diet pattern.
The overall idea is to feed them a balanced diet that contains about 20% of protein, 5-15% of fat and some amount of fiber as well.
Hedgehogs eat almost 100% of their body weight as insects every night when they are in their natural habitat. However, that may not be a possibility when you keep ‘em as pets. The good thing is that you don’t have to worry about having to find insects as you can count on commercial food and other such items.
We suggest that you prepare your own hedgehog diet as readymade food may not be the best food for hedgehogs. Do not feed your pet something unless you’re sure of what it contains.
Moreover, a lot of people think that hedgehogs only prefer insects since they are insectivorous by nature but that’s not true. In fact, hedgehogs eat anything and everything that’s available to them in their natural habitat including insects, fruits, meat, eggs, small fish, tiny frogs and more when they’re hungry.
However, feeding all this may not be suitable when it’s a pet hedgehog. The animal may end up being obese. You need to prepare a balanced diet as per the requirements of your hedgehog. There is a different diet for a baby hedgehog, pregnant hedgehog, sick hedgehog etc.
If you want to know the right diet for your little friend then you have landed on the right page. We’ll answer everything from what is hedgehog food to what to feed your pet. Let’s dig in:
Table of Contents
Importance Of Diet
Your hedgehog’s diet plays a vital role in its overall health. Too little or too much food can be harmful to the animal.
They sleep from morning to evening and require food when they wake up. They will eat 3-4 tablespoons of food per day (more depending on their size).
All in all, a hedgehog’s diet isn’t expensive.
Apart from that, it’s vital to know the best food for hedgehogs. A pregnant hedgehog requires more food than a baby or a male hedgehog. Similarly, a sick hedgehog should be fed a different diet that is easily digestible.
You also need to know about the foods that shouldn’t be given to a hedgehog for health purposes. These include dairy products (hedgehogs are lactose intolerant), an excess amount of red meat, toxic insects, a few fruits (grapes, raisins) and nuts. These foods are hard to digest and might make them sick.
The bottom line is that you need to feed your hedgehog a healthy diet and avoid foods that can harm their health.
What Do Hedgehogs Eat?
Mostly, a hedgehog’s diet contains insect, worms, flesh and very little amount of plant matter. They do not have a cecum, lower end of the colon, hence they find it difficult to digest plant matter.
- Serving Them Fruits And Plants: When hedgehogs are in their natural habitat, they tend to eat everything that’s available including fruits and plants. Therefore, it’s not a hard fact that you should restrict plant diet completely. You can give them fruits and tiny seeds as well but in a little amount.
- General Hedgehog Diet: A hedgehog’s diet in general consists of food that contains a blend of carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water.
These requirements are met by feeding them with animals and insects. The intestine, bones, and fur of the animals that your hedgehog consumes contain calcium, vitamins, and minerals.
However, you can’t give them as much food as possible. You need to understand the right amount for specific hedgehogs. For example,
- Baby hedgehogs require 28% to 30% of proteins.
- Nursing hedgehog moms require 28% to 35% proteins.
- An average hedgehog should be given over 20% protein, 15% fiber and fats at maximum (more fiber content if the food is wet).
- Best Protein Sources: You can give them lamb or chicken as they are packed with proteins and fats. In fact, they should be your top priority because hedgehogs can easily digest this protein.
Some people find it expensive to feed their hedgehog with chicken and lamb on a daily basis. If such is the case, you can turn to pork or beef. However, remember that pork and beef are not as easy to digest as lamb and chicken.
- Best Fat Sources: Cat foods can be a good source of both fats and proteins for your hedgehog. However, it’s important to find some cat food that’s in the right ratio. You will come across two common cat food: adult cat food and baby cat food. Go for adult cat food as it has more proteins than fats.
Your aim should be to find some cat food that has at least 30% of protein and 15% of fats. To achieve this, you can also mix several brands to balance the ratios.
- Best Vitamins And Minerals Sources: Certain fruits and vegetables can provide enough vitamins and minerals to hedgehogs. However, some of them can harm their health, too. Therefore, it is important not to feed them with every fruit and vegetable available at home. Especially, raisins, citrus fruits, avocados can pose a choking hazard and might even cause toxicity in the hedgehog’s stomach.
What Do Baby Hedgehogs Eat?
It is okay if you don’t know what a baby hedgehog eats. Also called hoglets, they can be switched to a lighter diet by the time they reach four weeks of age. Before that, they should be kept on mother milk.
The rule of thumb is to feed them 25% of their body weight. Most hoglets weigh between 150 grams to 250 grams so feeding them between 30-40 grams of food per day is sufficient.
Here’s what you can feed a baby hedgehog:
- Mother’s Milk: A newborn hoglet should be kept on mother’s milk. However, sometimes, a mother hedgehog isn’t available. Under such circumstances, you need to know what to feed a baby hoglet with. Your best bet is milk formula.
- Milk Formula: Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant which is why you need to feed with lactose pet-free milk. Therefore, cow’s milk is not suitable for them.
Take lactose-free milk powder and mix it with water or fennel tea. Cook it a bit so that it gets dissolved. it needs to be mildly warm as very hot milk may injure the pet.
- How To Feed: A hoglet can’t eat on its own. You need to feed it with a syringe/ or an intravenous(IV) cannula attached to it (it doesn’t injure the hoglet while a syringe might). Wrap the pet in a warm towel to make it feel comfortable. Also, make sure it’s upright so there’s no choking hazard.
Place the syringe point over their mouth and bring it to the side of their mouth. Make sure that the intravenous IV is attached to it because the hoglet would suck on it.
Note: Baby hedgehogs are blind and deaf for a few weeks after they’re born. Therefore, it can be difficult to feed them. However, they will eventually learn the scent and eat easily.
You might have to hold their mouth open with your thumb and index finger at first. Make sure you feed them very slowly because it is very easy to overfeed them.
What Do Adult Hedgehogs Eat?
- Meats: The food that should be on top of your hedgehog feeding list is meat. You can buy turkey, chicken, duck meat, and beef.
- Insects: Hedgehogs love insects as they’re delicious and nutritious as well. You can buy or find crickets, mealworms, silkworms and insects that are farm raised. Avoid feeding them garden pests as they may contain harmful chemicals.
- Dry Cat Food: You can feed your hedgehog with cat food, however, make sure that it accounts for the required amount of nutrients a hedgehog needs.
A good way of covering up the nutrients is to mix 2-3 cat foods and then serve the hedgehogs. But, make sure to compare the brands before you do so.
- Boiled: You can also feed them with boiled eggs or chicken. They contain a good amount of proteins.
What Fruits Can Hedgehogs Eat?
You need to feed your hedgehog with foods that contain many vitamins and minerals. Hence, fruits can be a good choice. Do You only need to know what fruit can a hedgehog eat? You can feed an adult hedgehog with a number of fruits such as:
- Skinless berries.
However, make sure to take out all the seeds and mesh the fruits into very tiny pieces so that there’s no choking hazard.
What Vegetables Can Hedgehogs Eat?
You can feed cooked vegetables to your pet hedgehog. This softens the veggies while securing the nutrients. Boiling may be enough at times.
As for what vegetables do hedgehogs eat, here’s the list (cooked):
- Romaine lettuce
- Sweet potato
- Radish, turnip
- Green pepper
- Dandelion greens
- Collard greens
However, make sure that you give them these veggies in moderate amounts as an overdose can upset their stomach. Also, never feed them veggies if they have a bloated stomach.
What Can Hedgehogs Not Eat?
Apart from knowing what hedgehogs eat, it is also important to know what can hedgehogs not eat.
Fried Food: Fried foods are loaded with calories that will increase your pet’s weight. Moreover, the oil in the food might upset their stomach and cause problems indigestion. Therefore, steer clear from feeding oily food to your pet or else they might get obese.
Dairy: Both adults and baby hedgehogs can get diarrhea if you offer them cow milk. This is because they are lactose intolerant and providing them milk can upset their stomach.
Other dairy foods such as cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt should be given once in a blue moon and in very little amounts because they can too upset a hedgehog’s stomach.
Solid Foods: Some solid foods such as almonds, raw carrots, peanuts, nuts pose a choking hazard and things can get ugly for your little pet. It requires a lot of caution, especially when feeding your pet with hard foods.
It’s daunting for hedgehogs to chew peanuts, nuts
If you really want to feed your little friend with hard foods then you can offer them crushed bits that are easily swallowable.
Sugary Foods: Foods that are loaded with processed or refined sugars are not suitable for a hedgehog. It can contribute to weight gain and also cause dental infections.
Sticky Foods: Hedgehogs are unable to make use of their tongue to move the food in the mouth. This is why it’s not wise to feed them with sticky foods such as dried fruits or raisins.
Such foods often get stuck in the upper portion of their mouth or in between the teeth and cause tooth decay and infection. So, it’s better to not feed them with sticky foods
Spicy Foods: Feeding spicy foods such as onions, garlic can upset your hedgehog’s stomach. It’s better to avoid giving them such foods.
Salt-Rich Foods: Salty foods can disrupt the electrolyte balance in a hedgehog’s body. Therefore, it’s wise to avoid feeding them salty foods such as canned meats and salty vegetables.
Can You Feed Bread To A Hedgehog?
Bread sure is soft and easily swallowable but the hedgehog will have a tough time digesting it. In fact, feeding them with bread continuously can upset their stomach and give them diarrhea.
A lot of people believe that it becomes safer when you mix the bread in milk and feed a hedgehog, it’s not. Both milk and bread are unsafe foods for a hedgehog and you should make sure that your hedgehog doesn’t have either of those foods.
Can You Feed Slugs To A Hedgehogs?
It must have wandered your mind to feed your hedgehog with slugs as there are so many lurking in your garden. The simple answer to that is “no”.
Slugs offer a small number of proteins and nothing else. Instead, it’s quite dangerous to feed them with slugs as they can cause your pet to fall sick,
Slugs carry the lungworm disease into the eater’s body. This disease is fatal and begins to multiply in the lungs. When it does, the lungs of a hedgehog will begin to expand. This disease will kill the hedgehog either by bleeding their lungs out or give them pneumonia.
Therefore, it’s better to avoid giving them slugs. Instead, you can include beetles and caterpillars in its place.
What Human Foods Can Hedgehogs Eat?
When you’re on a low budget and your hedgehog’s food has run out, you often wonder if you can feed them with human food. Fortunately, you can.
You can feed them cooked chicken, cooked meat (in little amount), watermelon, strawberries, green beans, peaches, cooked sweet potato, cooked carrot, tomato, cheese/cottage cheese (in a smaller amount), baby turkey sticks, and scrambled eggs.
When giving them new diet for the first time, make sure to start with smaller amounts as it can upset their stomach.
How to know if my pet likes the food?
Observe your pet’s reaction when you feed him. If he makes a grunting sound and ignores the food, it’s possible that he’s either sick or he doesn’t like the particular food.
On the other hand, if you see your pet licking his lips then he likes the new food.
What Do Hedgehogs Drink?
It’s not a good idea to offer them juice because it is loaded with sugar and can lead to tooth decay and dental infections.
While a hedgehog doesn’t require any juice, you can offer them sugar free juices if you really want to. However, it’s not necessary.
The only thing that hedgehogs drink is water. They consume a lot of water especially in hot weather. Therefore, place a large water bowl in their cage and make sure you refill it before it gets empty.
Sometimes, your hedgehog might not drink the amount of water it usually does. One reason for this could be that you’re feeding it with plenty of moist food which covers up their water requirement.
All in all, water is as important for a hedgehog as it is for us.
Hedgehog Meal Plan
If you are having trouble in deciding what to feed your pet then take inspiration from this carefully crafted meal plan:
|Week 1||Week 2||Week 3|
|Mon||Cooked chicken, |
|Cooked chicken, spinach||Cooked chicken,silkworms, vitamins|
|Tue||Cooked broccoli, green peas, |
|Mealworms, scramble |
|Carrot and peas cooked with dry cat food|
|Wed||Felix sachet beef, mealworms||Cucumber||Felix sachets|
|Thur||cat food||cat food Felix sachet beef, mealworms dry||cat food |
|Fri||cat food Cooked potato, sweetcorn, silkworms||cat food Lactose free milk, cooked potatoes, pear||cat food Mince |
|Sat||cat food Lamb |
|cat food Mince beef rough, mealworms, vitamins||cat food Cooked rice, mealworms|
|Sun||cat food Flaxseed oil||cat food Flaxseed oil||cat food Flaxseed oil|
|Week 4||Week 5||Week 6|
|Mon||cat food Chicken, |
|cat food Mince lamb cooked, sweet corn, dried |
|cat food Chicken, |
|Tue||cat food Mealworms, lactose free milk||cat food Milk, live mealworms||cat food Milk, melon, pineapple|
|Wed||cat food Peach||cat food Felix lamb and chicken sachet, mango||cat food Mince, mealworms|
|Thur||cat food beef, mealworms||cat food Milk, live |
|cat food Milk, |
|Fri||cat food Mince beef cooked||cat food Cooked |
|cat food, Felix|
|Sat||cat food, treats||cat food, Felix||cat food Flaxseed oil|
|Sun||cat food Flaxseed |
|cat food Banana, |
|cat food Baby food beef and sweet potato|
|Week 7||Week 8||Week 9|
|Mon||cat food Rough mince beef, milk||cat food Cooked chicken,|
|cat food Milk, mealworms|
|Tue||cat food Chicken, cooked rice,mealworms||cat food Milk, banana, |
|cat food Cooked chicken, vitamins|
|Wed||cat food Baby food beef|
|cat food Felix sachet, |
|cat food Baby |
|Thur||cat food Pear, Felix Turkey and Leaver, |
|cat food Milk, cooked beef heart||cat food Felix and cooked |
|Fri||cat food Scramble egg, milk||cat food Cooked veg (sweetcorn, peas, garden greens||cat food Mince beef cooked|
|Sat||cat food Vitamins, |
cooked mince beef, apple, flaxseed oil
|cat food Silkworms, |
|cat food |
|Sun||cat food Cooked pumpkin, live mealworms,milk||cat food Mince beef cooked, cucumber, iceberg salad||cat food |
|Week 10||Week 11||Week 12|
|Mon||cat food Mince |
|cat food Cooked chicken with cooked rice, vitamins||cat food Cooked turkey breast, cooked peas, vitamins|
|Tue||cat food Cooked |
turkey breast , red pepper, mealworms, vitamins
|cat food Mealworms, cooked potato||cat food |
|Wed||cat food||cat food Blended cooked beef hearts, cooked turkey breast, cooked mince lamb||cat food Cooked mince lamb, |
|Thur||cat food Cooked |
|cat food Cottage cheese, |
|cat food Felix |
|Fri||cat food Banana||cat food Flaxseed oil, |
|cat food Flaxseed |
|Sat||cat food Felix |
|cat food Apple||cat food Boiled |
|Sun||cat food Flaxseed oil, mealworms||cat food Chicken cooked, |
|cat food Milk, silkworms, |
What To Feed To Sick Hedgehogs?
There could be two reasons for your pet’s strange behavior. One, your pet might be attempting to hibernate due to the temperature not being warm enough or two, he might be sick.
There’s an easy way to check if your pet is willing to hibernate or not. Touch its belly and if it is not warm then your pet is definitely attempting to hibernate and won’t be interested in food. However, if your hedgehog is warm and still not eating or drinking anything then he must be sick.
A sick hedgehog will whimper and wobble on its legs as they are weak due to no consumption of food. The first thing you need to do is warm them up.
Try installing a bulb, place a warm blanket over their bedding or simple put them under your shirt to warm them up with your body temperature.
Once they feel warm, try feeding them with a syringe. They won’t be able to eat on their own. You might even have to force feed them.
The most suitable diet for a sick hedgehog consists of moist foods that are easily digestible. Do not give them fruits or veggies in this condition.
Lastly, feed them with a lot of water using a syringe. If your hedgehog persists, take them to a vet ASAP.
What To Feed To Pregnant Hedgehogs?
The most notable sign of a pregnant hedgehog is constantly increasing weight with an increase in appetite. Here’s where you need to be cautious.
Firstly, remove the wheel from her cage if there’s any because it’s not safe for a pregnant hedgehog to run while it’s carrying.
The diet should include high-quality dry cat food that has a good amount of proteins. Cooked vegetables such as carrots are good to include, too. However, make sure that they are extremely soft so that the hedgie can chew and swallow easily.
Meat is an important food that will help the hedgehog mother receive energy and strength. You can include chicken meat or lamb meat in her diet.
Make sure she drinks a lot of water, too.
Lastly, take her to the vet once every week to get a regular check-up because pregnancy could be dangerous for hedgehogs. They give birth in about a month.
For How Long Can A Hedgehog Survive Without Eating?
In their natural habitat, hedgehogs can survive up to 10 weeks without food and water. However, not eating or drinking makes them extremely weak, wobbly, and sick.
When you pet a hedgehog and if it refuses to eat anything for days then it could be problematic. The pet could be sick or not yet accustomed to the new environment.
You can take the animal to a vet or try to feed the pet with different diets. Some hedgehogs are picky when it comes to food.
All in all, a pet hedgehog shouldn’t stay hungry for more than a week.
That’s all you need to know about a hedgehog’s diet. Good luck feeding your little pet.