Contrarily to popular beliefs, hedgehogs are not big fans of apples! If you’re planning on getting a hedgie for a pet, or just want to help out those cute spiky creatures in your garden read on, as we’ll cover a hedgehog diet basics and learn what to feed a hedgehog.
What do hedgehogs eat?
We have all probably seen, in countless cartoons and children-books, a picture of a hedgehog carrying a huge apple on it’s back. It’s not the most accurate picture though. While hedgies are typically omnivorous, they traverse through the night looking mainly for Insects and other invertebrates. A typical menu, apart from insects, would include earthworms, snails, bird eggs and smaller mammals.
What to Feed a hedgehog pet?
Getting a natural kind of food mentioned above might not be the easiest task on earth.
What food can hedgehogs eat then?
A safe choice would be cat food – either dry or wet. Just remember to aim for good quality, meat-based kibble, ideally consisting of high meat percentage. Hedgehogs tend to enjoy the chicken taste the most.
Another good meal idea is boiled meat or fish. Keep in mind not to serve food that’s too hot and make sure bits are small enough for hedgies to eat. Moreover, there are different types of food designed specifically for hedgehogs, which, most conveniently, you can order online.
Another thing to keep in mind is proper hydration, especially during hot months. Always leave some water in a shallow bowl. Hedgehogs should drink water only; never provide them with milk, as it upsets their stomachs.
What NOT to Feed a hedgehog pet?
Feeding our tiny four-legged friend with inappropriate food may result in serious health issues. Treating a hedgie is often a tricky and complicated process, and this is why it’s extremely important to avoid certain foods. Hedgehogs should NOT eat:
- Milk – they’re lactose intolerant and feeding them with milk may cause diarrhea.
- Bread – not very nutritional.
- dried fruit
- chocolate and sweets
Be Careful with overfeeding
Hedgies might be small but have a huge appetite! As they’re most active during the night, it is the best time to feed them. Be careful with the amount of food you provide; it’s easy for hedgehogs to get obese.
Prolonged overfeeding leads to fatty intestines and fatty degeneration of the liver. It is suggested that the maximum bodyweight of adult hedgehogs should not exceed 800-1200 g, and in the case of baby hedgies, no more than 700 g in the first year of life. During one night, a hedgehog usually fills his stomach twice.
Generally, a medium-sized hedgehog eats about 71 g of food per day.
The daily energy requirement for a hedgehog with a bodyweight of 500–700 g is 90–140 kcal.
On this basis, it can be assumed that the daily dose of food should equal 60-90 g of wet food, or 18-28 g dry food respectively. Keep in mind these are not fixed values; some hedgehogs need much more food, even up to 150 g. It all depends on the calorific value of food and the age of the hedgehog, season, temperature and activity.
Feeding a hoglet
What to feed a little hedgehog who has just become a new member of your family? The food should be fresh and soft enough, for the hoglet to eat. Carrots and other hard vegetables should be cooked or grated, and cucumbers should be served without hard skin. Hedgehogs eat wet and dry food for pets, which should be room-temperature warm.
HOW to feed a hedgehog?
Food should be issued in the evening so that it is available for the whole night. A small amount of food may also be served during the day. In the case of sick or underweight hedgehogs, food should be split into two portions. Thanks to this, you will be able to cover increased energy demand, while avoiding overeating. If we feed a hedgehog during pregnancy or one that is nursing a cub, the daily dose of food should be increased and divided accordingly; it can be given in three portions.
Hedgehogs are not the kind of animals that will especially care about neatness in their surroundings. Therefore, remember to remove leftovers from the bowls daily and wash them thoroughly, and preferably scald them. Not maintaining proper hygiene of the dishes and the area where they’re placed may result in the transmission of pathogenic organisms.
The most suitable bowls for feeding hedgehogs are made of heavy materials that provide high stability. They should not be too high, ideally around 2-3 cm tall, and of a diameter of approx. 10 cm. Plastic cat bowls could also work, but they wear out quickly.