What Do Hedgehogs Eat?

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As omnivores, hedgehogs benefit from a diverse, well-balanced diet. In the wild, they eat primarily insects such as beetles, ants, and bees. Pet hedgehogs usually eat commercial hedgehog food but their diets can be supplemented with crickets, worms, and small amounts of fresh vegetables and fruit — but not avocado because it's toxic to hedgehogs.

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In the wld, hedgehogs eat a lot of insects.
Image Credit: Piotr Krześlak/iStock/Getty Images

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While the amount of food you should offer at each feeding varies with the size and age of your pet, as well as the nutritional content of the food, a good rule of thumb is to provide your hedgehog with only as much food as he can eat in one night. When you change your hedgehog's diet, do so gradually.

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Wild hedgehog diet

In the wild, hedgehogs are opportunistic omnivores, who may eat virtually any small animal they encounter, although they exhibit a distinct preference for insects and other invertebrates. Beetles, butterflies, moths, and earwigs are common targets, although they will even eat some stinging and biting insects, such as ants and wasps. Occasionally, hedgehogs even eat vertebrates, such as snakes, lizards, and frogs. At times, hedgehogs eat plant material, such as nuts, fruit, and leafy plants.

Pet hedgehog diet

Pet hedgehog diets should be high in protein and low in fats. You can feed your pet commercial foods, specifically designed for hedgehogs or high quality cat food. Actually, cat food is a good option because it's easy to find, there's more options, and usually contains better quality ingredients than processed hedgehog food. Dry cat food is better than moist, because it contains more fiber, also important in a hedgehog diet.

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Consult your veterinarian, who can help you select an appropriate variety for your individual pet. Never feed your hedgehog fatty, fried, spicy, or salty table foods or scraps, and do not give a hedgehog hard food items, such as nuts, seeds, or raw carrots which can choke a hedgehog or get stuck in the roof of their mouths. Don't over feed. Obesity is a problem with hedgehogs.

Fruits and vegetables for hedgehogs

While hedgehogs enjoy fruits and vegetables, they should not form a large portion of their diet; instead, offer veggies two or three times per week as a treat. You can offer fruits raw if they are small or you cut them into bite-size pieces, but vegetables should be cut into bite-sized pieces and cooked thoroughly to make them softer.

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Hedgehogs often relish fruits such as strawberries, apples, watermelon, and blueberries. Also, they eagerly accept boiled vegetables including asparagus, carrots, radishes, and green beans. Avoid leaving wet fruits or vegetables in the cage for more than about four hours, as they may spoil. Never feed avocado, dairy products, or raw meats or eggs.

Edible insects for hedgehogs

Like their wild counterparts, pet hedgehogs relish insects. Crickets, mealworms, wax worms, roaches, silkworms, and super-worms are all acceptable species, and you should try to offer the greatest variety of these insects possible. Earthworms are also suitable prey for these spiny mammals. Acquire commercially produced worms and insects, rather than collecting them from the wild, to reduce the chances of transmitting insecticides, pathogens, or parasites to your pet.

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Drinking water

Ensure that your hedgehog has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Hedgehogs are often sensitive to strong chlorine odors, so it is advisable to offer bottled water to your pet. It is especially important to keep your hedgehog well hydrated during the first few days after you bring him home, as dehydration may exacerbate the symptoms of stress.

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