Thinking about getting a hedgehog! That’s great news! Before you bring your new spiky friend home, be sure you have a good selection of food on hand.
The basis of a healthy hedgehog diet must be insects and other invertebrates. In the wild, hedgehogs would have feasted wildly on an assortment of tasty bugs, beetles, and worms! Feeling squeamish? Don’t be. You do not need to go outside and dig in the dirt for bugs. This could actually be very harmful for your hedgie’s health as many bugs in the natural world have been extensively exposed to toxic pesticides. Hedgehogs have actually been known to die after eating contaminated bugs.
The best source for nutritious insects is your local pet store or online vendor. Look for beetles, crickets, and meal worms. Dislike bugs? No problem. Place your container of insects into the freezer. This will kill the insects yet keep them fresh and preserved. Just be sure to let them thaw before serving.
Each meal should include six insects.
In addition to bugs, you will want to feed your hedgehog a variety of lean proteins. For this reason you will actually want to avoid commercial hedgehog food and lower quality cat food as both products tend to be very high in fat and additives. You can easily provide your hedgehog will excellent sources of protein by providing cooked shrimp, skinless chicken breast, or turkey breast cut into small pieces. Just make sure whatever meat you serve is cooked, not raw.
If you wish to feed your hedgehog prepared foods, look for high quality wet and dry cat foods. How can you determine quality? Read the labels! Look for foods that are familiar such as “chicken breast.” Do not settle for vague terms such as “poultry” as this implies a lower food grade. Also avoid any food with lots of chemicals, added sugar, or fats.
Hedgehogs enjoy fruit and vegetables cut into small pieces. Good foods include Apples, asparagus, bananas, carrots, greens, sweet peppers. Foods to avoid include peas and corn as they contain too much sugar and phosphorus. Finally, these foods must be avoided completely as they are not safe for hedgehogs!
- Grapes and raisins – Will cause organ failure.
- Milk and Dairy Products – Hedgehogs cannot digest these foods. Stomach problems and diarrhea will follow.
- Nuts and Seeds – Many hedgehogs will get nuts and seeds stuck in the roof of their mouths. Some have also been known to accidentally gouge their own eyes out trying to get a nut or seed out of their shells.