Feeding Hedgehogs

With some animals its easy – they only eat one thing (snakes eat only mice / rats – except the rough greens who eat insects!). With other animals it can be a great deal harder!

Hedgehogs will eat pretty much anything or so we are told. There is a lot of advice from other hedgehog keepers on what to feed your hedgie. They will eat cat food, tuna, dry cat food, scrambled eggs, minced unseasoned meat, strawberries, kiwi fruit, apple, banana, yam, carrots, sweetcorn, mushroom – they are omnivorous. As treats you can give meal worms, morio worms, pinkies (baby mouse) – but these are full of fat so should only be given occasionally or you will end up with an obese hedgie 🙂

Well we have found different, and I guess just like humans and other animals, all creatures have their preferences. Pink (our albino African pygmy hedgehog) is not a fan of vegetation or vegetables! She loves her meat – wet and dry cat food, fish, chicken, beef, pinkies, worms, ham – she even likes pasta !!! Vegetables, she is a little more selective with – all veggies need to be cooked, as hedgies can choke on the stringy bits in them. She will eat cooked cauli and broccoli, the inside of sweet corn (she leaves the skins), some leafy greens (not iceberg lettuce!) Potato (cooked). She does not like salad stuff (like tomatoes, cucumber, radish etc). She loves scrambled eggs and kiwi fruit, but you soon discover when foods do not like your hedgie! Yuk! Scrambled eggs and kiwi gave her a messy belly! As a treat she will get a sprinkling of meal worms or 1 or 2 morios or a pinkie, or a very special crumbled sponge cake 🙂 You MUST NOT feed your hedgehog milk or cheese – hedgies are lactose intolerant and these foods can make them VERY ill.

The trick is all about trial and error. Try your hedgehog with everything suggested, and find their preferences. Watch for the bodily reactions of your hedgie and you will soon discover what you can and can not feed. Watch for what they leave in their food bowl and that will tell you what not to feed again. They are omnivorous, so make sure you find some fruit and veg that they like in order to feed a balanced diet. Do not forget as well that hedgehogs are nocturnal, so do not feed your hedgehog til mid evening (around 730/8 pm), if you put the food down any earlier it will dry out and spoil and your hedgie will not want to eat it – as soon as your pet catches the smell of the food, it will be out looking for it, and it is such a delight to watch it as it picks out its favourite bits first …

A final word of warning if you are thinking of a hedgie, they are quite smelly animals – they are clean and Pink is even litter trained, but they do give off quite a strong scent. We have a plug in air freshener in the room and it masks the smell. Apart from that hedgies are a beautiful and rewarding pet.