A Crash Course in Hedgehog Diet
A Guide to Proper Hedgehog Diet
Hedgehogs are native to Africa, Asia, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, parts of Europe, and New Zealand. In the wild, a hedgehog can be described as a gardener’s best friend because of its diet. The hedgehog diet can be described as pest control. Hedgehogs are known to eat various insects that can cause damage to plant life.
What Do Hedgehogs Eat in the Wild?
In their natural habitat, a hedgehog’s diet is omnivorous. This means that a hedgehog’s diet consists of both plant and animal matter. In the wild, a hedgehog will maintain an animal diet including small lizards, snails, frogs, toads, small snakes, and even bird eggs. A hedgehog’s plant diet includes mushrooms, berries, and grass and various plant roots. A hedgehog’s diet will also include various insects. Although the preceding list embodies the typical hedgehog diet, it is important to note that, in the wild, a hedgehog will eat almost anything that it can get its paws on.
Hedgehog Food Guidelines
Maintaining variety in a hedgehog diet is the best way to ensure that the hedgehog will receive the necessary vitamins and minerals. The best way to manage this variety is to provide your hedgehog with a staple food along with a diet of assorted treats. You can feed your hedgehog meat items including salmon and chicken, insects including crickets and mealworms, fruits including raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon, and vegetables that include asparagus, broccoli, and cucumbers. Any meat that is included in your hedgehog’s diet should be well cooked. Fruits and vegetables should be boiled or steamed to softness, and any insects that are fed are recommended to be store bought, not wild-caught.
Feeding your hedgehog a diet of only soft food may lead to tooth decay and/or gum disease, so it is important to have a little crunch in their diet, but not too much. Food items that are very hard can damage the hedgehog’s teeth. It will take some practice, but after a while, you will find a happy medium between the two. Limit the amount of treats you provide your hedgehog’s diet with to once a day, about four times per week. You do not want to over-feed your little critter.
Foods to Avoid
You should avoid feeding your hedgehog a diet that includes dried fruit, seasoned meat, raw meat, salty food, and foods that are high in sugar content. Foods high in sugar content include chocolate, sticky food, seeds, super worms, garlic, onion, hard food, bones, citrus fruits, dairy products, grapes, nuts, raisins, and avocados.
Note: Here is an article specifically covering the best hedgehog treats.
Which Commercial Hedgehog Diet is the Best?
A hedgehog’s regular diet should consist of some variation of kibble. Although there are several brands of hedgehog kibble on the market, many studies have shown that dry cat food is a better alternative. There are many choices, and you should choose one with low fat content, around 10%, and about 30% to 35% protein content. You should choose an organic kibble and avoid any brand that has by-products. One to two tablespoons of kibble should be provided daily, depending on your hedgehog’s age and activity level. The pieces of kibble should be small enough that the hedgehog has no trouble getting the food into its mouth. If you decide to purchase a kibble with larger pieces, you will need to crush the kibble down to smaller, bite-size pieces. Remember, your little four-legged friend has a small mouth.
Meat should be in the first few ingredients. The best meat ingredients that you can have in your hedgehog’s diet include chicken, chicken meal, and lamb. Beef and pork can also be included; however they are not as easily digested. The higher the protein content is in your hedgehog’s diet, the larger the variety of amino acids that are available. Hedgehogs are prone to be obesity, so keeping the hedgehog’s diet low in fat is greatly beneficial to their health and longevity.
For regular meals consisting of kibble, a food bowl should be provided in the hedgehog’s cage. The food bowl should be large enough that the hedgehog can easily access it and heavy enough so that it cannot be easily tipped over.
Your hedgehog should have a constant supply of fresh water. Dehydration can lead to kidney problems, which can lead to an early death. In some cases, a hedgehog will refuse to drink the water that they are provided with if they do not like the taste. If you decide to use tap water and notice that your hedgehog is not receptive, you may want to substitute with filtered or bottled water. If you notice that your hedgehog is excessively chewing on the metal part of their water-bottle, you should consider switching to a water bowl to avoid any possible tooth problems.
As a final note, make sure to feed your hedgehog around the same time every day. Establishing a constant feeding time sets up a routine for your hedgehog and its diet. Be sure to check out our hedgehog care sheet if you still have questions about hedgehog diet or care.