Knowing what foods are best for your African Pygmy pet hedgehog and which can cause harm is essential.
So, what is a good hedgehog’s diet?
To start with the basics, they are primarily insectivores.
In the wild, their diet is mainly composed of insects; however, they will eat pretty much any food they find appealing.
Luckily, domesticated hedgehogs do not necessarily require insects as part of their diet, although they will love you more if you provide them as a treat!.
An interesting fact is that commercial edibles suitable for hedgehogs are inexpensive.
The reason behind this is that they only need between 1-2 tablespoons per day, depending on their size, with their primary intake being something straightforward and easy to find – cat food!
Now, I’ll get into the details of dietary restrictions, hedgehog food guidelines, and the best types for your pet hedgehog.
Hedgehog Diet Restrictions
Hedgehogs have a sensitive digestive system and can become obese quickly, so it’s important to know what types of meals can be harmful and what to avoid.
– They are lactose intolerant, so it’s important to avoid most dairy products. Nevertheless, they can have a tiny amount of yogurt or cottage cheese but no more than once per week.
– Hedgehogs can eat most meats (e.g., chicken and tuna); however, you should avoid red and fatty meats due to the low-fat requirements they need.
– Although they eat mainly insects in the wild, avoid bait shop insects because they can contain toxic insecticides.
– Some fruits, including grapes and raisins, are harmful in the way their tummy is affected.
– Do not feed them nuts – they are not digested very well and are very difficult to chew.
Hedgehog Food Guidelines
There are some basic guidelines for a correct diet; therefore, ensure your pet hedgehog is fed with the proper nutrients. It includes:
– Meals with a high level of proteins and a low percentage of fats. This replicates the intake ratio in the wild, where they feed primarily off insects.
– Hedgehogs love variety, so they incorporate small amounts of safe snacks (listed further below) into their meals from time to time.
Primary and Secondary Nutrition Sources
There are a few primary sources of nutrients for hedgehogs.
Again, while they eat mainly insects such as mealworms, the central portion of their diet should be dry meals that can have a similar fat-to-protein ratio.
1. Hedgehog food formulas
Pet stores sell dry meals explicitly made to meet the hedgehog’s insectivore diet requirements.
Some brands make a great option since it is prepared specifically for balanced nutrition.
Despite the above, many breeders do not recommend certain brands because some meals are not made with quality ingredients.
Keep the following points in mind when selecting a decent formula:
– Some formulas are a little bit harder to find than cat alternatives.
– As they are more specific, they are a little more expensive than other similar meals for pets.
– Not all meals are made for all types of species. Make sure the type you buy is appropriate for the species you have, which in most cases are African Pygmy).
In general, there are a couple of brands that are suggested as nutrition sources:
2. High protein, low-fat dry cat food
Cat food is an excellent choice for hedgehogs because the protein-to-fat ratio is very similar to that required by an insectivore’s diet.
Most breeders recommend using cat food, though.
Here are a couple of points to keep in mind when selecting the right product:
– Choose the ones for adults. Although the kibbles may be larger than kitten food, baby cat food is high in fat and unhealthy for hedgehogs.
– It should contain a minimum of 30% protein and more than 15% fat.
Many breeders recommend mixing a few different brands to ensure that they receive a well-rounded diet.
Some brands that follow the guidelines above and come highly recommended by breeders are:
(For more options, check out a complete chart of acceptable cat foods from Hedgehog Central)
These foods can be fed to your hedgehog in addition to dry alternatives.
This ensures they get a balanced diet and add a little variety to their meal time.
Please note that they should be served in small amounts (no more than a teaspoon per serving, according to the reputable breeders at Blissful Quills Hedgehogs), 3-4 days per week.
Fruits and vegetables
Hedgehogs love an occasional fruit treat. However, some fruits can be harmful to them.
Keep the following in mind when feeding your pet hedgehog with fruit:
– As discussed before, do not feed them with grapes or raisins.
– The amount of fruit should be minimal to keep the sugar levels low.
Hedgehogs can eat most types of meat. Here are a few guidelines of what to avoid:
– Never feed a hedgehog raw meat, no matter if it is even chicken.
– Meat should be cooked without seasoning, using any method other than frying.
– Do not feed your hedgehog processed or canned meat.
– Crickets, silkworms, or mealworms are pet hedgehogs’ best types of insects.
– Ensure that the insects are farm-raised. You can find these types of insects at pet stores.
– Never feed them insects from your garden or a bait shop. These insects can contain poisonous insecticides and chemicals.
Baby food is an excellent treat for hedgehogs because they contain already-prepared and easy-to-digest ingredients.
They warn against feeding your pet hedgehog any baby food labeled above Stage 2 because of the added sugar content and other ingredients.