As a hedgehog owner, it’s important for you to understand exactly what your hedgehog can eat.
In this post, we will walk you through all the foods that your hedgehog can eat as well as listing the foods that they need to avoid at all costs.
Before we take a detailed look at the complete foods list for hedgehogs, let us first give you an overview of the category of foods that your hedgehog can eat…
So what foods can pet hedgehogs eat? Pet hedgehogs can eat a variety of foods including…
- Dry cat or hedgehog food
- Vegetables & greens
- Cooked meats
- Worms & insects
Throughout the rest of the post, we will focus on sharing the exact foods your hedgie can eat in each of these categories.
First, it’s important to know and understand the basics of your hedgehog’s diet including how much of your hedgehog’s diet should be proteins and fats…
An Overview Of What Your Hedgehogs Diet Should Look Like
In order for your hedgehog to be healthy in captivity, there are a few guidelines you need to follow in their diet.
Hedgehogs in captivity are prone to obesity if they aren’t fed a healthy diet so it’s important that you follow the guidelines as much as possible.
Luckily, the principles of the hedgehog diet are pretty simple once you understand their dietary needs.
In the wild, hedgehogs eat a variety of different insects and a small number of vegetables and fruit. Source:
You basically want to replicate this diet model in captivity by feeding your hedgie a diet that’s mainly either cat or hedgehog food (more on which one to choose shortly) and a small amount of fruit and veggies.
As a general rule of thumb, hedgehogs need between 28% – 32% protein and 12%- -15% fat in their diet overall to be healthy.
They also need to consume low amounts of sugar due to their obesity problems and also potential problems with their teeth.
Now let’s take a look at what you should be feeding your hedgehog as the main part of their diet…
Cat Food Vs Hedgehog Food | Which Is Best?
Right off the bat, we are recommending that the main staple of your hedgehog’s diet should be either…
- Dry poultry based cat food
- Specially designed dry hedgehog food
The question is which one should you choose?
This has been a long-winded debate for many years now between vets, breeders and experts in general.
Some people will prefer to feed their hedgehogs dry cat food whilst others will prefer specially formulated dry hedgehog food.
We thought the best thing to do was compare a leading cat food and hedgehog food brand side by side and see how they stacked up against each other.
You can see the results in the table below…
Comparison Between Dry Cat & Hedgehog Food
|Name||Vitasmart (Hedgehog Food)||Bluebuffalo (Cat Food)|
|Crude Protein||38.0% min||32.0% min|
|Crude Fat||8.0% min||14.0% min|
|Crude Fibre||9.0% max||7.0% max|
|Moisture||14.0% max||9.0% max|
Ok, so what does this data mean? It actually means that both options are actually pretty good as long as you opt for a trusted, high-quality brand such as the two we have compared here.
Overall they both have great amounts of all the essential nutrients such as protein and fat.
They both offer good amounts of omega 3’s and other nutrients to help your hedgehog stay healthy too.
But which one should you choose?
If we were to really compare the 2 products side by side, then the Vitasmart hedgehog food has more protein, more fibre and less fat so in our opinion is the better choice overall.
You can see our recommended choice of hedgehog food and where you can now get it for the lowest price in this guide right here.
The bottom line is, either one is fine as long as you are choosing a high-quality brand like the ones we showcased here, lesser quality products don’t offer the same nutrition and level of ingredients.
What Vegetables & Greens Can Hedgehogs Eat?
Even though vegetables and greens aren’t the main part of your hedgehog’s diet, they still play an important part in their diet for a few reasons.
The first and probably most obvious is the health benefits that veggies and greens provide.
Greens such as dandelion greens and collard greens, for example, are high in calcium and other highly important vitamins and minerals.
Below is a list of vegetables and greens that your hedgehog can safely eat…
- Collard Greens
- Dandelion Greens
- Green Beans
- Green Peppers
- Romaine Lettuce
- Sweet Potato
What Fruits Can Hedgehogs Eat?
Although fruits are generally minerally poor when compared to greens and veggies, however, they are still an important food to add to your hedgies diet.
As we mentioned earlier, in the wild, hedgehogs often find both veggies and fruit while foraging and it’s important to replicate their natural diet in the wild as much as possible.
Certain fruits are also high in antioxidants and vitamins, although you need to be a little more cautious with fruit as it generally contains high amounts of sugar.
Check out the list of fruits your hedgehog can eat below…
What Meats Can Hedgehogs Eat?
Hedgehogs don’t require meat as part of their diet if you are feeding them either a dry cat or hedgehog food.
With this being said, you can still offer certain meats from time to time to keep mealtimes interesting.
Eating the same foods over and over again can be a little boring and introducing new foods can increase mental stimulation.
One thing to remember is that you should only even introduce one new food at a time so if a new food doesn’t agree with your hedgie you know which one it is and can remove it easily.
Here a list of safe meats your hedgehog can eat…
What Insects & Worms Can Hedgehogs Eat?
Insects and worms are another part of your hedgehog’s natural diet in the wild and it’s highly recommended that you add them to their captive diet too.
You shouldn’t offer insects and worms too often though because worms especially can be high in fat.
It’s also important to make sure that you purchase insects from reputable insect and worm breeders and don’t ever get these from your garden or bait shop.
The worms from your garden/yard or bait shop can contain parasites and harmful chemicals which you need to avoid at all costs.
Here’s the list of insects and worms your hedgehog can eat…
- Dubia Roaches
- Phoenix Worms
What Dairy Can Hedgehogs Eat?
The first thing you need to know about dairy is that hedgehogs Can’t have cows milk ever.
Hedgehogs are also lactose intolerant and most dairy products aren’t suitable for them.
Hedgehogs don’t need any dairy in their diet and our advice would be to stay away from it, however, if you really want to feed your hedgie some dairy then there are a small number of dairy foods they can eat.
These should be fed to your hedgehog once in a while and in small quantities.
Here’s the list of dairy foods your hedgehogs can eat occasionally…
- Cottage Cheese
- Eggs (Plain & Unseasoned)
- Yoghurt (Low Sugar)
What Foods Can’t Hedgehogs Eat?
Now you know the foods that your hedgehog can eat, it’s absolutely vital that you know the foods that they can’t eat too.
Understanding this food can save you lots of money in vets bills and even save the life of your hedgehog too.
You can see the list of foods that your hedgehog Can’t eat below…
- Canned Meats
- Citrus Fruit
- General Junk Food
- Nuts & Seeds
- Processed Meats
- Raw Egg Yolk
- Raw Meat
- Seasoned Meat
- Spicy Food
Do Hedgehogs Need Water?
Water is vital for the health and well being of your hedgehog and fresh water should be offered daily.
Many owners offer either a bowl or water bottle, to be honest, there are pros and cons to each and this will depend on your personal preferences as an owner.
You can find out in under 3 minutes if it’s actually safe for your hedgehog to drink from a bottle and if bottles and better than bowls in this easy to follow guide
How Much Should My Hedgehog Eat?
As well as eating the right high-quality foods it’s also important that you feed them to your hedgehog in the correct quantities.
Most owners and breeders will give you slightly different advice and offer their hedgehogs food in varying quantities so it can be hard to know which plan is the best and most optimal.
To give you the most straightforward and reliable plan possible we have decided to use the advice of veterinary experts.
We have chosen the veterinary experts at Veteriankey and used their feeding plan as a reliable guideline for you…
According to Veteriankey, male adult hedgehogs weighing around 500g require…
- 2-3 tsp of their base diet
- 1 tsp or fruit and veg mix
- 1 tsp of invertebrate or another protein source
They also go on to say that females require less protein than males but can eat more than this if they are lactating, also young hedgehogs can sometimes eat an adult portion too.
When Should My Hedgehog Eat?
The most optimal time to feed your hedgehog is around twilight as this is when they will usually be most active and essentially their breakfast time.
In the wild this is when hedgehogs will start to leave the nest and forage for food so replicating their natural behaviour as much as possible is always best.
Having said this, every hedgehog is different, if you feel that you need to feed your hedgie a little earlier or later than this then, by all means, do it as there is no hard and fast rule.
Should My Hedgehog Eat Hard Or Soft Food?
When it comes to choosing between hard or soft food for your hedgie, we recommend opting for dry/hard food as their main base diet.
If you remember at the top of this post, when we did a comparison between the best cat food and hedgehog food products, they were both dry food products.
There was good reason for this as opposed to comparing soft cat food and hedgehog food.
Dry foods tend to be higher in dietary fibre. This is highly important for digestive health and healthy bowel movements. Source:
Dry food also helps to keep your hedgehog’s teeth in good condition. The dry nature of the food keeps their teeth strong and healthy.
It’s a little known fact that hedgehogs actually suffer from teeth and gum problems and a major cause of this is tartar buildup on teeth, this can often lead to infection and abscess. Source:
In the wild, hedgehogs would regularly be chewing on hard-shelled insects and worms that keep their teeth in good condition.
In captivity, opting for dry food instead of soft has many benefits including helping to keep those teeth in good condition.
Can hedgehogs drink milk? Hedgehogs can’t drink milk due to the fact they are lactose intolerant. Milk can cause a hedgehog to have serious abdominal pain and it can even kill them in some cases.
Can hedgehogs eat grapes? Grapes are toxic to hedgehogs and some other small animals. They can cause renal failure, which can result in the death of your hedgehog. Here’s a post that shares 5 foods we recommend feeding your hedgehog instead of grapes…
Can hedgehogs eat cheese? As hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, cheese isn’t a food that you should feed them. Some hedgehogs can eat cottage cheese but in truth, we would recommend staying away from this too.
Can hedgehogs eat strawberries? Hedgehogs can safely eat strawberries. Strawberries are relatively low in sugar when compared to other similar fruits. Having said this, strawberries should be fed in moderation and with other healthy greens as part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Can hedgehogs eat bananas? Hedgehogs can eat bananas in moderation. Bananas are quite high in sugar and as hedgehogs can become obese very easily in captivity bananas should only be offered in small amounts.