We have decided to put the time and effort into publishing the ultimate hedgehog food list available online. Although some of this information is already available online and on our website, it tends to be spread out over a number of different sources.
We wanted to try and make the ultimate possible resource when it comes to suitable foods for your beloved hedgehog. We will be linking to relevant products throughout the article as well as sources of additional reading for you. We will also be going over a number of foods you should avoid and never feed your hedgehog at the end of the article.
Commercial Hedgehog Foods
Unfortunately, things haven’t progressed much over the years. There are probably two or three brands that have worked on their food mix to produce a suitable product. The only commercial hedgehog food that we recommend is 8in1 Ultra-Blend Select Hedgehog Diet.
It has a stronger reputation amongst the hedgehog owning community when compared to the rest of the market. Many hedgehog owners still use a high-quality hedgehog friendly cat food over a specific food made for hedgehogs. This is partly due to many pet stores not stocking hedgehog food as standard and the history of commercial hedgehog food being low-quality. Our post on the best cat food for hedgehogs may help you if you decide to go the cat food route.
Click here to read independent reviews from hedgehog owners on the 8in1 Ultra-Blend Select Hedgehog Food. These reviews will help you understand that at least one hedgehog food brand is moving in the correct direction.
This is an excellent post on hedgehog nutrition and what to look for in both commercial hedgehogs can commercial cat foods for your hedgehog. This post also compares commercial hedgehog food and commercial cat food together and may be helpful to you.
Live Insects For Treats
As hedgehogs can be classed as insectivores to some extent, they can happily be fed a wide range of insects as part of their diet. One thing to note is that it is advised you use insects to supplement a healthy balanced diet or as a treat. They should not make up the bulk of your hedgehog’s diet!
It is also advised that you only purchase your insects from reputable retailers. Although it is tempting to go out into your garden or field to catch some insects, there is no way to know if they are covered in or contain pesticides. Feeding your hedgehog insects that are contaminated with pesticides can be fatal so is best avoided.
Some hedgehog owners try to avoid insects purchased from bait shops as they are intended for fish rather than feeding your pets. In this day and age, most bait shops source their insects from the same suppliers as the companies who sell live pet feed so its rarely an issue.
Additionally, unless stated in the article, always try to source live insects to feed your hedgehog. Dried and frozen insects will usually be consumed by your hedgehog but may lead to impaction problems. This usually results in digestive problems and your hedgehog not being able to go potty. A trip to the vets is usually the solution for something that can be easily avoided.
If you would like to see the specific nutritional data for any of these insects then this handy PDF can be helpful.
Live mealworm have been one of the staple insects fed to hedgehogs for as long as we can remember. They are easy to get hold of, cheap and loved by hedgehogs making them the perfect treat.
Like most insects on this list, mealworm will continue their process of working towards evolving into beetles once purchased. This can be avoided by placing them in the fridge as it will trigger their hibernation instincts. Just be sure to remove them for six to twelve hours every three to five days so they can warm up and eat. That said, mealworm in both pupae and beetle life stages can be fed to your hedgehog if required.
Click here to read independent reviews from pet owners on our recommended supplier of live mealworms. They have proven a trustworthy supplier of high-quality mealworms for almost fifty years!
In an attempt to reduce costs, many hedgehog owners choose to start their own mealworm farms. Although it takes a few months to get going, it can lead to considerable savings in the long term, especially if you own multiple hungry hedgehogs.
This forum thread contains a discussion between hedgehog owners on the consumption of mealworm that you may find useful. Our post on getting your hedgehog to eat its mealworms may also be helpful if your hedgehog shows no interest in them once purchased.
High-quality live crickets are another popular insect snack for hedgehogs. Many hedgehog owners will choose to treat their hogs with crickets over mealworms when putting them on a diet. This is due to the lower fat and calorie content in the crickets.
Similar to mealworms, they are widespread and can be purchased at a number of different traditional and online stores. Click here to read independent reviews from a number of different pet owners on our recommended supplier of live crickets. They are the same supplier we recommend for mealworm and have been in the business for almost fifty years!
Although you can set up your own cricket farm at home, it is rarely done due to the noise and average lifespan of the crickets. This forum thread discussing live crickets for hedgehogs may offer a useful further reading.
Live waxworm is another common insect treat used for hedgehogs. Unlike crickets with their lower fat content, waxworms contain a higher fat and calorie count. Due to this, hedgehog owners usually use them as a treat for hogs that need to gain weight.
They can be a little harder to track down than mealworm and crickets but some pet stores will stock them as standard. Similar to mealworm, once you have your waxworm you can store them in the fridge to keep them longer.
Although you can set up your own home waxworm farm it is rarely done by hedgehog owners. This is due to the calorie content of the worms quickly being able to make your hedgehog overweight. This forum thread discusses feeding your hedgehog waxworm. You can click here to read independent reviews of our recommended waxworm supplier.
High-quality live silkworm can also be offered to your hedgehog as an insect-based treat. They are very nutritious compared to the other insects we have covered so far and can be expensive and difficult to find in stores. That said, they tend to be widely available, often with next day delivery on Amazon.
High-quality live earthworms are another insect treat you can offer your hedgehog. Although a relatively controversial insect when it comes to nutritional values for your hedgehog, they are readily available and cheap.
Their vitamin and mineral profile aside, earthworms are high in protein and contain healthy fats. They are sure to be a welcome treat to any hedgehog meal although a messy one.
If you have a garden then earthworms can make the perfect hedgehog treat or meal supplement. If you purchase a closed compost bin you can minimize the risk of impurities getting into your worms. As worms have both male and female reproductive organs both worms will become pregnant when reproducing. This often leads to a healthy and constant supply of earthworm to eat for your pet hedgehog when required.
Rather than digging up your garden in an attempt to hunt for earthworms to put in your compost bit and risk contaminating it with pesticides, you can just purchase your initial batch of high-quality clean worms online. If you want to read independent reviews from people who have purchased worms from our recommended supplier, click here. This forum thread contains a discussion between hedgehog owners on feeding their hogs earthworms.
Although similar to and often mistaken for crickets, grasshoppers are actually a totally different insect. Just like crickets, grasshoppers make an excellent treat for your hedgehog to eat.
Unlike crickets, grasshoppers tend to be harder to find in pet stores. In fact, they are almost impossible to find live so we recommend the canned alternative. Grasshoppers are low in fat but high in protein and contain a number of vitamins and minerals. Click here to read independent reviews of our recommended grasshopper supplier. This forum thread also contains a discussion about feeding your hedgehog grasshoppers.
Dubia Cockroaches are a relatively easy to find type of cockroach that most hedgehog breeds love to eat. They are usually found online on sites like Amazon with next day delivery commonly an option.
Roaches contain a high amount of protein, a number of vitamins and minerals, and are low in fat. They are also easy to farm at home to provide a constant and cheap supply of treats for your hedgehog to eat.
Click here to read independent reviews of this
Although a controversial treat to feed your hedgehogs, superworms can be used if you choose.
Superworms can be relatively aggressive, especially when they are being eaten. There are multiple reports from hedgehog owners of superworms biting their hedgehog when being eaten.
One way hedgehog owners have worked around this is to cut the head off the superworm before feeding it to their hog. Without the head, they are unable to bit your pet. Other hedgehog owners choose to try and feed the worm to their hog head first and that has also proven successful. That said, the YouTube video below is a great example of how much hedgehogs love to eat superworms and how easily they can be consumed without injury.
Phoenix worms are another insect that your hedgehog can eat without issue. Again, they are low in fat, high in protein and also high in calcium while also containing other vitamins and minerals.
They are easy to find for sale online on sites such as Amazon but can be a little expensive depending on the time of year and your country. Click here to read independent reviews of our recommended phoenix worm supplier.
Although butterworms are a popular treat for some reptiles, they may not be ideal for hedgehogs. Nutritional information on them is mixed with different sources stating different fat content.
For example, this source claims they are high in fat (29.1%) while this source claims they are low in fat (5.21%). Due to this mixed information, most hedgehog owners will avoid using them as hedgehog treats to avoid any unneeded health issues. This forum thread discusses feeding your hedgehog butterworms and provides a little more information.
Live hornworms are actually caterpillar, not worms. Similar to superworms, hornworms when fully grown to the four-inch length have been known to bite back in self-defense.
Due to this, some hog owners will feed them to their pets head first, cut the hornworms head off first or freeze them before feeding. They can also be more expensive than other insect treats leading to not being very popular.
High-quality live maggots are a hedgehog food that some owners will avoid. This is due to some bait shops sourcing them from suppliers that farm maggots only as fish bait rather than pet food.
A quick message or phone call to the supplier is usually enough to find out the source of the maggots. In this day and age, the majority of maggot farmers will actually breed their maggots used for fish bait to the same standards as their maggots bread for pet food. This allows for greater crossover between the two markets.
Maggots are a good source of protein for your hedgehog’s diet, they also contain a medium amount of fat but it falls within the recommended nutritional breakdown of hedgehogs. You can read this forum thread for more info on feeding your hedgehog maggots.
Snails are similar to grasshoppers, they are difficult to find live ones for food sources both online and in stores. The live snails that you usually find in stores are meant to be kept as pets. They usually have a strong hard shell that is tough to get through and are also expensive. Due to this, we recommend high-quality canned shellless snails.
You can click here to read independent reviews of our recommended snail supplier. You can also read this forum thread on feeding your hedgehog snails. The video below shows how quickly a hedgehog can get through a regular garden snails shell when fed as a treat.
Should Insects Be Live, Canned Or Frozen
As we touched on earlier, it is usually recommended that you always try to source live insects to feed your hedgehogs. This can help reduce the avoidable risk of digestive and intestinal problems occurring in your hedgehog and a trip to the vets being required.
Some people are a little squeamish about handling bugs and getting them into your hedgehog’s habitat. There are a number of popular “insect grabbers” on the market now that have been designed to help with this.
The essentially work as an extension of your arm allowing you to move live insects into your hedgehog’s enclosure to be used as a food source. They have proven extremely popular with the market and you can read independent reviews on them here.
Freeze Dried Insects
It is usually not recommended to offer your hedgehog freeze dried insects as a food source. This is due to the freezing process removing various enzymes that can help your hedgehog digest its food. Without this enzyme, the freeze-dried treat can lead to impaction problems in your hedgehog.
If you can’t source live insects then canned insects are the second-best alternative for hedgehog food sources. Depending on how you are planning to store your live and canned insects, each may last longer than the other. Although Freeze dried will last longer than both, the health risks deter most hog owners from using them.
Freezing Insects You Sourced As Live
Many people choose to purchase live insects and then freeze them at home as a way to extend their shelf life. There are multiple ways that you can freeze or chill an insect without killing it. That said, some people will simply put the container that the live insects are housed in into the freezer and leave nature to do as it pleases. Just remember to feed your insects plenty of vegetables before you freeze them. This will help make sure that they are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals when fed to your hedgehog.
Thawing your insects out for feeding is relatively quick. Depending on the type of insect it can take as little as two to five minutes. Just be sure to offer it to your hedgehog as soon as you think it has thawed out as defrosted insects can go bad relatively fast if not consumed.
How Many Insects Should I Feed My Hedgehog
Another popular question we see asked in relation to feeding your hedgehog insects is how many insects should you feed your hog. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer to this. Different insects contain different nutritional breakdowns and different hedgehog breeds require different nutritional profiles. Different diets for each hedgehog also come into play too.
Fatty insects such as mealworms should be limited to between two and five treats per day for most hedgehogs. This can be increased to as many as ten if your hedgehog is underweight and needs to gain weight quickly.
Observe how your pet reacts to the number of insects you feed it. If it seems to be gaining weight then reduce the number of insect treats you are feeding it.
Meats And Fish For Your Hedgehog
Adding most meats to your hedgehog’s diets is usually fine, just make sure they have been baked, boiled or grilled. Never feed your hedgehog a meat that is either raw or processed. Although some people advice that you cook your hedgehogs meat-based meals in butter or oil, this can quickly increase the fat content unnecessarily. It is also advisable to avoid seasoning any meats that you plan to offer to your hedgehog as part of its meal.
When cooking the meat, cook until it is tender and then be sure to dice it into very small pieces before feeding. Try to always avoid canned variants of meats or fish as they usually contain too much salt for your hogs diet.
Fish and poultry are popular meats to feed your hog, although pork and beef are also acceptable they should be used in moderation. This is due to them being a tougher meat for your hedgehog to digest with a higher phosphorus content than other meats.
High-quality lean beef is an excellent source of protein but even lean cuts can still have a moderate fat content. Due to this, we recommend you only feed your hedgehog beef occasionally.
Beef cooked until tender and then diced into small parts has proven a very popular treat for hedgehogs.
Chicken is another meat that can be used to feed your pet hedgehog. It is high in protein and lower in fat than beef. Due to this, some pet owners choose to use chicken as a more regular food for their hogs.
Some hedgehog owners have reported their hog having allergic reactions to chicken. Due to this, we recommend that you initially test your hog by feeding it a single small piece of chicken.
This forum thread discusses some things to take into consideration when feeding your hedgehog chicken.
Similar to beef, lamb has a relatively high-fat content while also being high in protein. Due to this we only recommend that you feed your hedgehog lamb on special occasions if at all.
Some hedgehog owners have reported that their hogs picked the lamb up, began to chew it and then spat it back out. The theory is that the fatty and chewy texture of the lamb put the hog off eating it. As lamb can be expensive depending on your location and the season, this may be something to factor into your decision.
Although salmon is usually avoided as a food source for hedgehogs, they can eat it. It is a good source of protein although a little high in fat. Additionally, most types of fish can have an effect on your hedgehog’s poop making it smell bad.
Some hedgehog owners who fish as a hobby have reported feeding their hedgehogs wild caught salmon but there is no guarantee that the salmon does not have pollution in it. On the flip side, if you use farmed salmon, they are usually lower in vitamins and minerals. This forum thread discusses feeding your hedgehog salmon.
Tuna fish is another sea-based treat you can feed your hedgehog that is commonly avoided by hog owners. Although it is lower in fat than salmon, it still tends to make hog poop smell worse than usual.
Never offer your hedgehog canned tuna, it is usually high in both sodium and mercury. This may pose a potential health risk for your hog. This forum thread discusses feeding your hog tuna fish.
Fruit And Vegetables For Your Hedgehog
When it comes to hedgehogs, fruits are often a better choice than vegetables. This is due to hedgehogs seemingly struggling to break down cellulose. Various studies have found that the majority of plant and vegetable matter hedgehogs consume remain undigested and is usually just passed in their feces.
Fruits tend to be softer and much easier for your hog to digest when added to its diet. That said, many hedgehog owners will dice vegetables into small pieces and boil or steam them before feeding them to their hogs. This list is not extensive of all fruit and vegetables hedgehogs can eat, we will only be covering the most popular ones.
Apples can be fed to your hedgehogs in moderation without any real problems. Always be sure to peel the apple and avoid offering the core to your hog as food.
A number of hedgehog owners have reported giving their hedgehog some apple each day without issue. In our opinion, it is best to mix up your hedgehog’s diet in the interest of variety. This forum thread discusses hedgehogs eating apple for further reading. The video below shows the kind of size we recommend that you chop the apple to before feeding it to your hog although multiple chunks can be offered rather than just one.
Bananas are another popular fruit commonly used as a treat for hedgehogs. Some hog owners have reported only offering their pets banana once or twice a week as a treat where others will sometimes offer it as a meal substitute.
Due to its soft texture, hedgehogs rarely struggle to get through the fruit of the banana and usually enjoy eating it. This forum thread discusses hedgehog owners feeding their hedgehog banana.
Mango can also be used to supplement your hedgehog’s diet or as a treat when required. Some people have reported that their hog outright refuses to even try any mango offered to them.
Due to this. it may be an idea to only offer your hog mango if you have it in your house as a food source for yourself or a member of your family. Depending on the season, mango can be expensive and may go to waste if you only purchased it for your hog to try.
Strawberries are another popular fruit used as food or a treat for hedgehogs. Some hog owners tend to shy away from them due to their seeds. There is no need for this as the seeds of strawberries are small enough to not cause any issues for your hedgehogs.
Although strawberries can be eaten by hedgehogs, they seem to be a take it or leave it type of treat. Some hedgehogs love to eat them where others may sniff or lick them and then leave it. This forum thread discussed feeding your hog strawberries if you want any additional reading.
Bell Peppers are a common vegetable added directly to your hedgehog’s main meal. You can quickly and easily dice them up and they require no additional preparation.
Hedgehogs tend to enjoy eating them no matter the color. Although some people think that the different colored peppers come from different plants, they are actually the exact same fruit at different stages of ripeness. This forum thread discusses feeding your hedgehog bell pepper.
Although a starchy vegetable, many hedgehog owners will steam or boil carrots and then add small diced chunks to their hedgehog’s meal.
That said, some hog owners will try to feed their hedgehogs carrots raw. As we mentioned earlier, hedgehogs can have a hard time digesting plant matter, especially raw starchy plant matter. The Youtube video below shows how difficult it can be for a hedgehog to eat a raw carrot.
Although cucumbers have a low nutritional profile they can be fed to your hedgehog without issue. Always use seedless cucumbers though to avoid any issues with their seeds. Peel and chop them into small parts before adding them to your hedgehog’s meal.
As they are mostly water and relatively flavorless, many hedgehogs will simply ignore them if they are offered alone as a treat without anything else. Although rare, some hedgehogs will also eat around the cucumber chunks when added to their meal.
Broccoli is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables available. The florets are suitable for hedgehog consumption if boiled or steamed but we would avoid offering the stalk to your hog even when steamed.
Many people believe that the nutrients of broccoli lie in the stalk but this is incorrect. The nutrients are petty evenly split between the florets and the stalk but both contain different types of nutrient. This forum thread discusses feeding your hedgehog broccoli further.
Baby Foods For Your Hedgehog
Another popular food offered to hedgehogs as a treat or to supplement their main meals is baby food. They are easy to store for long periods of time and depending on your location, they can be relatively cheap.
As hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, be sure to check that any baby food that you purchase for your hedgehog is free from milk and other lactose sources.
We advise that you try and only stick to stage two or second foods as higher stage foods can contain additional things you don’t want in your hedgehog’s diet.
Dairy And Eggs For Your Hedgehog
As we mentioned earlier, hedgehogs are somewhat lactose intolerant so milk should be avoided at all costs. That said, there are some dairy products that your hedgehog can eat as a source of additional calcium for their diet. You also need to pay attention to the fat content of these products, the lower fat the better.
Provided you get a low fat plain organic yogurt your hog should be fine. There is no lactose in most brands of organic yogurt. The process of creating yogurt relied on the lactobacillus bacteria and as it works its magic, it breaks the lactose down.
Low Fat Cottage Cheese
Low Fat Cottage Cheese can also be fed to your hedgehog without and problems. Similar to yogurt the bacteria in the creation process breaks down the lactose and makes it edible for hogs.
Cottage cheese seems to be another polarising food between hedgehogs. They either seem to love it or hate it with no real middle ground. If you eat low fat cottage cheese regularly as part of your own diet then feel free to offer some to your hog.
Most hedgehogs enjoy either a scrambled or hard-boiled egg either as a treat or as part of their meal. Although their fat content is relatively high, this can be offset by the rest of the food offered to your hog.
When cooking the eggs most people tend to boil them as no fat is required in the process to further increase their fat content. If you do decide on scrambling your eggs try this microwaved scrambled egg recipe, just skip the advised tablespoon of milk as it’s not required. It removes the need for additional fats that would be used if frying the scrambled egg mix.
Many people are skeptical about ordering eggs online but you can actually save money and get a higher quality of egg by going directly to the supplier. Click here to read independent reviews of our recommended online egg supplier from their current customers. The below video shows how enjoyable eggs are for hedgehogs.
Feeding Your Hedgehog Cat Food
As we mentioned earlier, many hedgehog owners will still choose to feed their hog a high-quality hedgehog friendly cat food rather than a high-quality hedgehog food. If you do choose to take this route then our post on the best cat foods for hedgehogs may be helpful to you.
What NOT To Feed A Hedgehog
NOTE – This list is not extensive and does not contain all foods that you should avoid feeding your hedgehog!
As we have already mentioned throughout the article, milk is a no go for hedgehogs due to their lactose intolerance. Sweet artificial foods that contain any processed or refined sugars are also a bad treat for your hog that may cause digestive upset. Similar to dogs, chocolate is toxic to hedgehogs and can be potentially fatal to them.
As we have briefly touched on in the article, most fried foods are also a bad idea. Not only does the process of frying increase the fat content of the meal and knock your macronutrient breakdown out of whack, the grease on the food from the frying process can also cause digestive problems.
Nuts should also be avoided, not only do they present a choking hazard to your hog but they can also get stuck in the roof of their mouth during chewing. This can be painful and difficult to remove for your hedgehog.
Some people do choose to give their hedgehogs nut butter. Always try to ensure you get a natural, smooth nut butter with no added salt if you choose to go this route.
Similar to nuts, dried fruit such as raisins can present both a choking hazard as well as get tuck in the roof of your hogs mouth when chewing. They can also get stuck between your hogs teeth and quicken the process of tooth decay.
Although a low risk, raw eggs should be avoided due to their salmonella risk. It doesn’t take long to boil an egg, peel its shell and offer it to your hog as a quick and tasty treat.
Although as we mentioned in the article, bell pepper is fine to feed your hedgehog, spicy peppers should be avoided. Not only is there no easy way to cool your hogs mouth dog if it is panicking due to the heat, they can also cause digestive upset. Onions and garlic are also included in this section due to the same reasons.
Seeds in foods present a choking hazard to your little hedgehog. Chances are he will be focusing on eating its treat as quickly as possible and not thinking there is a hard seed in there waiting. Always try to get seedless if possible.
Salty foods should also be avoided where possible. Too much salt can cause digestive upset in your hedgehog as well as electrolyte problems too. Keep in mind that many canned foods contain excessive salt and sodium!
Citrus fruits should also be avoided. The citrus can cause enzyme imbalances when consumed as well as digestive upset.
It also has excellent reviews from its reader base. Click here to read its independent reviews from hedgehog owners.