Did you know that diet is one of the hottest topics of debate among hedgehog owners? Sure not. Very few people are aware of the appropriate foods to feed their hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs have a tiny morphology and are small mammals with sharp spines on their back. Europe, Asia, and Africa are popular for the hedgehog population.
So, what hedgehogs can eat? The hedgehog diet, wild or pet, revolves around their foraging nature. That is also the reason behind their name: they keep foraging into hedges, hence ‘hedgehogs.’ And they are primarily carnivorous. They eat small snakes, insects, frogs, worms, snails, slugs, and mice.
In this post, you will be acquainted with the best food for hedgehogs, what do hedgehogs eat as pets, or what you should not feed them. So, what does a hedgehog eat? Let’s find out.
The Hedgehog Diet: An Overview
The basics about the hedgehog diet are pretty straightforward once you get yourself to learn them. And if you are keen enough to pet a hedgehog, you would be surely curious to know about their diet if you don’t already.
The key to a happy, healthy, and nourished hedgehog is a well-maintained diet of a hedgehog.
The primary thing to remember about your pet hedgehog’s diet is to provide them with high protein and low fats. This pretty much forms the base of the diet requirements of a hedgehog, whether pet or wild. Sticking to this principle will help you cope with their diet from a nutritional perspective.
To better understand this principle, you need to look into their diet specifics. Hedgehogs may eat plenty of different foods, but their favorite remains the insects. They like to eat eggs, worms, fish, frogs, and slugs. All of them are high in protein and considerably low in fat.
These compose the basic needs of the carnivorous mammal. Hence, they also dominate the food items you will feed them with. However, they’d still love to enjoy a good meal now and then.
Hedgehogs love the variation in their diet. They love different types of food, including the essentials for their diet.
All of this is simple when you start to get the hang of it. So, keep reading until you are ready to feed a hedgehog with the right food.
See the trend here? These are all very high in protein and low in fat.
Nutritional Requirements for a Hedgehog
Hedgehogs are popular pet animals. But since their diet is the widest debate among their users, a proper nutritional requirement is still uncertain. However, with much-gathered experience and study, there’ve been conclusions made.
Hedgehogs have a digestion rate of plant fiber of 38%. Their gut and pancreas consist of this enzyme chitinase enabling the process.
This clearly suggests that hedgehogs are better off eating insects than plants. This serves to be beneficial when feeding overweight hogs to increase the food intake with some fibrous veggies to impact calories.
Shuffling in the Diet of A Hog is Essential
Hedgehogs have high levels of flexibility in their diet. They like to eat a wide range of foods depending upon their habitat. This way, they can handle the macronutrients well, such as protein and fat.
The diet you feed them should account for 20-50% protein while 5-20% fat. However, hedgehog owners defy to state that pet hedgehogs may require 28-35% protein and 5-15% fat. But all hogs need 15% of fiber.
Variation Across Lifespan
While you are skimming through information about a hedgie’s diet, you should know that their nutritional needs will vary over time. So, with time, you would have to change the dietary lifestyle of the hog. Higher levels of nutrition are essential for:
- Colder periods
- High activity levels
- Coping with illness
- Old age
But lower levels of nutrition are required only when there are conditions of:
- Less activity
- Very hot weather
What Do Hedgehogs Eat?
Here’s a fun fact! All this while you’ve been reading that hedgehogs are carnivores, turns out, they consume plants as well. Hence, they’re omnivores. They have razor-sharp teeth, and strong jaws meant to bite, kill, and feed on insects and snakes.
They have a versatile diet, as you now know. Therefore, it can be intimidating to keep up to their variational diet. So, here is the best food for hedgehogs that you can feed them with.
Some foods contain water too. True! But hedgies can’t stay hydrated enough from that amount of liquid. It is essential to keep them hydrated with available access to clean water all the time. As a hog owner, it is a major responsibility to add a stoppered water bottle in their cages to remain hydrated.
Dry Hedgehog or Cat Food
Hedgehog food is easily available in the market. These foods are certified and contain all the essential nutrition that hedgies require to survive and stay healthy.
However, in case such food is not available in your area, you can also feed them with cat food. It is similar to their diet. Meat or chicken cat foods contain high protein levels and act as great alternatives to pet hedgies.
Well, hogs are quite cool with dry food. But it would be great to maintain a balance in their diet and feed them with some moist food as well. Hedgehogs like foraging through hedges or roots and eat slugs which are moist food to them.
Like previously mentioned, cat food or dog food is also moist food alternatives for your pet hedgie. Meat and chicken would be the best picks for hedgehogs.
Fruits and Vegetables
Like foraging, hedgies also enjoy nibbling on fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetable items like berries, watermelon, melon, carrots, apples, corn, peas, and beans can be added to their cages. Also, offer them in tiny amounts so that your hedgie doesn’t overfeed themselves.
Additionally, make it a priority to clean their cages the next morning and take away any leftover food. Do not let them eat rotten food.
Typically, hedgehogs consume insects and small animals, such as reptiles. They enjoy eating insects, toads, snakes, frogs, snails, and even eggs. As their pet owner, you can choose to offer these foods as treats while adding them to their dry food. All of these have abundant protein and are healthy for hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs are omnivores. Besides fruits and vegetables, hedgies also like to eat grass roots and mushrooms. They may also nibble on other food sources available to them.
Make sure to keep spicy or flavored foods out of their reach. These mammals are potentially fragile sometimes because of their sensitive build.
- Every evening, feed them with only a handful of food on their dish.
- Keep distance from their spines. You can serve them in a feeding station as well.
- Ensure the availability of a stoppered water bottle in their cage, more so during the hot weather, and also ensure that the water does not freeze during winters.
- While feeding your hog with wet food, replace them daily, for they may be off during warm weather conditions or freeze during winters.
How to Feed Hedgehogs?
The diet of all hedgehogs can be the same, but their feeding styles, such as the quantity and consistency of feeding, would slightly differ. What do hedgehogs eat as pets may differ from the ones living in nature’s womb.
Most hedgehog owners like to feed wild hedgehogs for survival and observe their growth in their natural habitats. If you plan to feed a wild one, make sure not to feed them with too much food and offer food to them at irregular times.
This is because hogs can easily be tamed, and they’ll soon start relying on you for their survival through food.
Pet hedgehogs are kept in cages. It’s both for the safety of the hog and the owner. However, ensure to keep a bottle of water in their cage at all times. Also, keep a bowl of hedgehog food available in the cage. This would enable them to eat or drink whenever they need to.
Additionally, you can add some fruits or veggies to their cages to supplement their diet. But be mindful of the quantities you serve them. Also, you can feed them with insects apart from their daily dry food.
How Much and When to Feed Your Hedgehog?
Hedgehogs are susceptible to obesity. So, as much as a nutritional diet is important, make sure to feed them the right amount. And not too much.
Hedgie or cat kibble is the most common food for hogs. But if they are too active at night, ensure to control their kibble quantities.
Make sure to feed an adult hedgehog with one or two tablespoons of kibble along with a teaspoon of fruits and veggies, and insects. However, larger or active hedgies may require more food. Use a baby scale to monitor their weight. If you notice a 10% gain in their weight, lower the food quantities you’ve been previously serving.
There’s nothing to worry about when your hedgie eats too much at night. They run on their wheel at night and cannot eat so much during the day. They’re probably full with their night’s meal!
Also, any leftover food from the night should be disposed of the next day to avoid spoilage. And make sure to keep a bottle of clean water in their cage all the time.
What Not To Feed Hedgehogs
Till now, you know what hedgehogs can eat. However, it is vital to know what is not good for your pet and what they can or should not eat. For instance, your hog has a calcium to phosphorous ratio of 2:1 to 1:1. If you feed them with anything beyond this range, it can be hazardous to their health.
Sunflower hearts have a ratio of 1:15 and mealworms, 1:7. And here’s another fun fact! Mealworms are addictive to hedgehogs. So, you should be mindful of such conditions. Beetles, peanuts, and crickets are other poor ratio foods.
Try to avoid them overall. The reason is they might already find them in the wild anyway. So, you can try to maintain the balance in their diet by feeding them with proper food.
Additionally, refrain from feeding your hedgehog with dairy products. These mammals are highly lactose intolerant. Feed them with milk or cheese and get ready to see a period of diarrhea and severe illness.
Also, dried berries, sultanas, raisins are sweet food items. Although you can go easy on these while feeding them, it’s better to skip them completely. Hogs would love some sugar, but high sugar content will lead to tooth decay, and further digestion issues shall await your pet.
Other foods such as bread, chunks of meat, bacon or corned beef, too many eggs, cheap cat or dog food can threaten a hedgehog’s life.
Diet-Related Health Issues of a Hedgehog
Hedgehogs are vulnerable to many health issues if they are not fed appropriately, resulting in nutrient deficiencies. Such conditions would lead to illnesses, such as:
- Tooth Decay
- Kidney Disease
- Fatty Liver
- Liver Failure
If you want to prevent such conditions, make sure to maintain their weight and diet on point. Feed them with the right levels of protein and fat. However, if you are a newbie in this field, take professional help to avoid compromising your pet’s health.
If you notice any symptoms, connecting with an exotics vet is crucial to get your pet checked.
Did you just have some food for your thoughts? Well, hedgehogs really aren’t difficult to feed once you know the drill. They thrive well on a fair routine with animal protein, insects, fruits, and vegetables.
If you plan to get a hedgehog or feed a wild one, make sure to do your research before getting through it. Either that, or you can follow the guidelines given in this post and keep your hedgie well-nourished, healthy, and happy.