Hedgehogs - Feeding

By Gregory Rich, DVM; Rick Axelson, DVM

What do wild hedgehogs eat?

In the wild, hedgehogs eat a diverse selection of insects as well as some plant material and, very occasionally, small or baby mammals (like pinkie mice). Hedgehogs are nocturnal and usually eat at night.

How should I feed my pet hedgehog?

A pet hedgehog’s diet should mainly consist of high-quality hedgehog food mixed with high-quality, low-fat cat food. The following supplemental foods can be offered in small amounts two to three times a week:

• Gut-loaded insects, such as mealworms and crickets. Gut loading refers to feeding the insects a nutritious diet before feeding them to your hedgehog, so your hedgehog can benefit from the added nutrients.
• Fresh fruits and vegetables, such as apples, pears, bananas, and small sections of cooked carrots
• hard-boiled egg

"Insects should be purchased from a pet store or raised in the home."

Check with your veterinarian regarding which vegetables and fruits are recommended for your pet hedgehog. Insects should be purchased from a pet store or raised in the home. Caution should be used in obtaining insects from gardens where insecticides and fertilizers have been used. Earthworms can be a very nutritious treat. Your veterinarian may be able to provide some tips for successfully raising your own insects to offer your hedgehog.

What should I NOT feed my pet hedgehog?

• Avoid lettuce and celery, which are low in nutritional value.
• Do not feed avocados, as they are toxic to your hedgehog.
• Do not feed raw meats or raw eggs to your hedgehog.
• Hedgehogs are not able to digest milk. Consumption of milk and milk-based foods may lead to diarrhea.
• Do not offer nuts, seeds, or hard foods such as raw carrots, as they may get stuck in the roof of the mouth (especially peanut halves).
• Do not offer any "people food" without checking with your veterinarian first.

Can I feed my hedgehog as much as he wants?

Hedgehogs have a propensity for obesity if their food intake is not monitored or controlled. Food given in measured proportions and with the appropriate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and minerals will help prevent this problem. As with all animals, exercise is extremely important for weight control. Some hedgehogs will run on a wheel, others need a cage large enough to run around in.

"Hedgehogs have a propensity for obesity if their food intake is not monitored or controlled."

Do I need to give my hedgehog vitamins?

Hedgehogs do not require additional vitamins if fed a properly balanced diet.

Can I offer my hedgehog treats?

Hedgehogs do not require treats, although an occasional offering of fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains is acceptable.

What about water?

Water should be available 24 hours a day. Filtered water is preferred. Most owners choose to offer water through a sipper bottle hung in the cage. If using a sipper bottle, ensure that your hedgehog will drink from it. Check the tube whenever you change the water (at least daily) to make sure the sipper tube has not become clogged with food.

Clean all food bowls and water sippers every day with soap and water and rinse well.

Related Articles