The question “what do hedgehogs eat?” is one that new and prospective hedgehog owners inevitably ask. And it’s not a surprise that their diet is something that most people don’t know off the top of their head.
After all, these aren’t the most common pets!
But understanding what hedgehogs eat and their ideal diet is something that you need to know. Giving your hedgie the right food to eat is essential if you want them to thrive and live a long and happy life.
Not only that, but hedgehogs love to eat. They’ll scarf down pretty much whatever you put in front of them.
This means it’s on you to understand their diet and give them the proper things to eat. That’s why we put together this diet and food list to help you get up to speed on what hedgehogs should eat (and what they shouldn’t).
Let’s get started.
An Overview Of A Good Hedgehog Diet
The fundamentals of a hedgehog’s diet are actually pretty simple if you take the time to learn them. We believe that it’s important for you to know these so you’re not helpless without your food list, and you have a better understanding of the needs of your hedgehog in general.
From a very high level, the most important things to remember are that a healthy hedgehog diet will be high in protein and low in fat. These are the rough guidelines that will help your diet mimic what they eat in the wild from a nutritional perspective. Sticking to these principles when it comes to their diet will keep them nourished, happy, and healthy.
To better explore why this is, let’s look at their diet in the wild. Hedgehogs eat a wide variety of things, but the main course for them is insects. Sometimes they will snack on other small critters like slugs, frogs, fish, worms, and eggs.
See the trend here? These are all very high in protein and low in fat.
A hedgehog’s health will suffer if they don’t meet these two basic needs. This means the primary food you feed them will be geared to provide this.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t like a good snack every now and then.
Hedgehogs love to eat a variety of different foods, so including some different options in their diet is essential. This will not only keep them happy, but it will help round out their diet and ensure that they get all of their necessary nutrients.
If all this is sounding a little intimidating, don’t panic. It’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it.
In fact, it’s more about remembering what you can’t feed them instead of what you can.
It Doesn’t Cost A Lot To Feed Them
As an added bonus, ensuring your hedgehog has a well-rounded diet is a very affordable process. The main reason for this is its size.
Think of it this way:
The amount of food that your hedgehog will eat daily is typically measured in tablespoons (aww).
Even when you factor in additional snacks and treats, we’re not talking about a whole lot of food. This keeps things cheap and easy to manage!
Deciding What To Feed Hedgehogs As Their Main Source Of Food
It’s usually smart to break up what a hedgehog eats into two categories. One would be their main source of food that will be the foundation for their diet. The second is miscellaneous snacks and treats.
So what do hedgehogs eat most?
The answer is simple. Most of your hedgehog’s diet will consist of either hedgehog or cat food.
Hedgehog food is a dry food mixture that is designed to provide the essential nutritional requirements within a strong hedgehog diet.
But there’s a problem. Most of them aren’t made with high-quality ingredients.
As a matter of fact, almost all respected breeders recommend that you make cat food the staple of your hedgehog’s diet. This might seem strange at first, but there are a number of great reasons for this:
- It’s a lot cheaper
- You can find numerous options at any pet store
- The quality of the ingredients tends to be much higher
Because of this, we highly encourage you to go with cat food over hedgehog formulas.
What To Do Next
Now that you know cat food is the best way to go for their main food, what’s next? Can you just buy any random brand and throw it in their cage?
Nope! There are a few things to consider first.
Go With Hard Food
We recommend that you get hard food instead of moist. The reason for this is that hard food tends to have a little more fiber in it which is an important part of any hedgehog diet.
The other reason is that it’s good for hedgehogs teeth to have something to consistently crunch on. If you have moist food they will miss out on this benefit and the health of their teeth will suffer.
Think about what we said earlier. In the wild hedgehogs eat a lot of insects. Hard, crunchy, wriggling insects (I’m getting hungry just thinking about it). Hard food is just another way to keep their diet experience a little closer to how it is in the wild.
Get Adult Food Instead Of Baby Food
Next, you’ll want to make sure that you get adult food instead of baby food. While the baby food is smaller and easier for your hedgehog to chew, it’s a lot higher in fat than adult food.
Too much fat can throw any hedgehog diet out of sync really quickly. Especially when it’s coming from their main source of food.
Stick To The Right Percentages
When shopping around you’ll be looking for food that has over 20% protein and between 5-15% fat. This will help you keep their diet in the sweet spot.
Note: As you review the full hedgehog food list you’ll notice that excess fat is something we aggressively avoid. Take this seriously when deciding on hedgehog food and making diet decisions!
Mix A Few Together
Another neat trick that a lot of breeders recommend is mixing a few high-quality foods together. This will help provide a wider range of vitamins and nutrients for your hedgehog.
This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s something we do recommend if possible. It’s going to cost you more up front, but you also won’t have to buy food for a while. Since the cost is the same in the long run, we err on the side of doing what will make your hedgehog the healthiest!
Using A Food List To Add Some Variety
If the answer to “what do hedgehogs eat?” was simply cat food, there wouldn’t be a need for an extensive food list.
Hedgehogs eat a variety of foods in the wild, so you want their diet to match when it comes to nutrition. This means you’re going to sprinkle in various other foods to help them thrive.
It’s worth pointing out that your hedgehog might like some of the foods in this list and dislike others. They’re like humans in that way. We all have our preferences!
Another quick note: Before we get into each additional food that hedgehogs can eat, you’ll want to remember something. These are all items that you want to give them in moderation.
For some of the foods on this list that might mean no more than three or four days per week. For others, it might just be a weekly treat!
The majority of the food that your hedgehog will eat is still going to be the cat food you decided on above.
Popular Food Questions First
There are a handful of foods that get asked about quite often by new hedgehog owners. These questions are so common that we wanted to highlight them separately for quick reference.
Can hedgehogs eat apples?
“Can hedgehogs eat apples?” is probably the most common food-specific question we’ve heard. Pretty much everyone has them in their homes, they’re affordable, and they’re easy to store.
Fortunately, hedgehogs can eat apples (and they tend to have a lot of fun munching on them).
This means you can absolutely feed your hedgehog apples, but you’ll want to do it in moderation. Some apple three or four days a week is plenty for them. If you go over this you’ll risk exceeding their recommended level of sugar intake.
Can hedgehogs eat strawberries?
Strawberries are another fruit that hedgehogs can eat. This is a food that we’ve heard some hedgehogs aren’t into for whatever reason, but it’s harmless to let them try it!
The same thing goes for strawberries when it comes to sugar. Don’t overdo it and stick to the three to four days a week rule
Can hedgehogs eat bananas?
Hedgehogs can eat bananas as well. They are tasty, soft, and easy to break into bite-sized pieces!
Can hedgehogs eat carrots?
Cooked carrots are great food for hedgehogs. If your hedgehog enjoys it we highly recommend adding it to their diet a few days a week.
Can hedgehogs eat blueberries?
Blueberries are a fantastic food for hedgehogs as long as you don’t give them too many. Stick to the three or four days a week rule with blueberries and you should be fine as long as you’re not giving them a ton each time you feed them.
Can hedgehogs eat grapes?
No!!! Hedgehogs cannot eat grapes.
Grapes are toxic to hedgehogs and can cause liver, renal, and organ failure if consumed even in small amounts. Keep grapes away from your hedgie!
Can hedgehogs eat cheese?
For the most part no, hedgehogs cannot eat cheese. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant so dairy products aren’t good for them.
However, some hedgehogs have been said to like cottage cheese in very small amounts. If your hedgehog is in this group then you’ll want to make this a rare special occasion just to play it safe.
Can hedgehogs eat watermelon?
Watermelon is another food that hedgehogs enjoy eating (and they look darn cute doing it). It can be very easy to give them too much sugar with this one, so keep the amount in moderation and served three to four days per week.
Can hedgehogs eat pineapple?
You bet! Hedgehogs can eat pineapple as long as you stick the rules of moderation we listed above.
Now For The Rest Of Their Diet Options
Without further delay, here’s the full hedgehog food list in its entirety that you can use to inform your hedgehog’s diet and keep track of foods they should stay away from as well.
We recommend keeping this list somewhere you can easily access it for reference and help you avoid any confusion.
Vegetables That Hedgehogs Can Eat
Cooked vegetables are great foods your hedgehog can eat to get a little variety in their diet. They don’t have a lot of sugar (which is something you should be keeping track of), are healthy snacks, and your hedgehog will certainly enjoy eating at least a few on the list!
Here’s a list of vegetables hedgehogs can eat:
- Dandelion greens
- Sweet potatoes
- Romaine lettuce
- Green peppers
- Collard greens
What Fruits Can Hedgehogs Eat?
Fruits can be yummy snacks for your hedgehog and they’ll definitely enjoy scarfing down a large number of the fruits on this list.
As we’ve mentioned repeatedly in this post, don’t overdo it with the fruit! It’s one of the fastest ways you can give your hedgehog too much sugar which can lead to various health problems over time.
You’ll also want to remove the skin from any of the fruits on this list that have them. Skins can be a choking hazard!
- Squash & Pumpkin
Hedgehogs enjoy some meat from time to time, and the ones listed below are great options. They are low in fat and high in protein which is perfect for a hedgie.
Even though the answer to the question of “what do hedgehogs eat” is almost always insects when it comes to the wild, for a pet hedgehog it’s a bit different.
There’s always the concern of possible insecticides that come with almost any place you can purchase insects. The same thing goes for wild insects as well. There’s no telling what chemicals have been sprayed on them these days.
Another reason why you shouldn’t give your hedgehog a ton of insects is the fat content. Feed insects are much higher in fat than the insects your hedgie would naturally be snacking on in the wild.
This means if you want to give your hedgehog an insect or two as a snack, make it a very occasional treat.
Here are the insects you should consider:
Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant (more on that below) but there are a couple of dairy products that they can actually eat. As you probably assumed, these should not be added into your hedgehog’s diet too often (maybe one day a week)
The dairy food that your hedgehog can have are:
- Cottage cheese
- Yogurt that’s low in sugar
- Cooked unseasoned eggs
What Can’t Hedgehogs Eat?
We’ve covered a long list of food options that can be included in any healthy hedgehog diet. You certainly have a lot to choose from!
However, there are some foods that you simply should not give your hedgehog.
The foods below are either toxic to your hedgie or will cause them to have an upset stomach (nobody wants that). As long as you keep these foods out of your hedgehog’s diet you should be just fine.
- Dairy products (excluding the foods we listed above)
- Fatty foods
- Processed or canned meat
- Raw meat
- Fatty red meat
- Nuts and seeds of any kind
- Grapes and raisins
- Citrus fruits
- Seasoned or fried meat
- Insects from bait shops or your yard (there’s a strong possibility they’ve been exposed to chemicals)
And there you have it! You wanted to learn what hedgehogs eat, and now you know!
As you can see there are a lot of food options you can consider when feeding your pet hedgehog. This makes providing them with a well-balanced diet simple and stress-free once you get the hang of it.
If you’re still unsure what hedgehogs eat or have specific questions regarding the process of creating a healthy hedgehog diet, feel free to contact us! We’re more than happy to help.There are also some great threads on the Hedgehog Central forums about this topic as well. You’ll be able to quickly ask around and get advice or feedback!