Hedgehogs are incredibly cute creatures that also make for wonderful pets. Many people often confuse hedgehogs with porcupines. Porcupines are known for the quills on their back and they can even shoot them out of their back when they are threatened.
However, hedgehogs are actually quite different. You don’t have to worry about a hedgehog causing problems as much, though they still require a bit of attention.
Many people like to keep hedgehogs in a cage, with a wheel and a dish of food. Along with that, you are going to want to make sure that you create a considerable amount of space exclusively for their litter.
Hedgehogs tend to poop a lot, and if you are not careful with the cleaning, it won’t take long before the entire floor is covered with hedgehog poop.
One of the things that you should know about these animals is that they tend to poop even when they are moving about. In fact, you will notice that the running wheel is covered with poop within a few days, and it’s going to be all over your hedgehog’s feet. It’s important for you to make sure that you take cleanliness as a priority with these animals.
More importantly, you will have to take special care about what you feed your spiny little friend. You should know that hedgehogs are generally considered to be insectivores or omnivores, which means that they prefer eating insects and a few plants.
In general, you can say that hedgehogs are quite omnivorous, because in the wild, they are going to eat a lot more than just insects. Depending on the type of hedgehog and species, their diets are going to vary. One of the things that is quite unique about these animals is that they are able to ingest chitin that is found in insects.
Chitin is basically the hard exoskeleton of most insects and is a very viable source of protein. More importantly, it also contains quite a bit of fiber. Chitin is one of the key parts of a hedgehog’s diet, although it’s not the only thing that the animal needs to survive out in the wild.
What About Mealworms?
Mealworms are tiny insects found on the ground, and you can easily feed them to your hedgehog. They also contain a considerable amount of chitin, so they are a great food source for your hedgehog. If you want, you can easily buy freeze dried or live mealworms for your hedgehog.
One of the best ways to feed a hedgehog is to give them live mealworms. You could put them in a bowl and let your hedgehog eat them. The live mealworms are going to move around quite a bit, and they also turn into an important source of mental stimulation for the animal. They have to work a bit to catch their food, and this is a great way to give some activity to your pet.
There are quite a few other things that you can feed your hedgehog, such as:
Waxworms: waxworms usually contain a higher amount of fat, but they don’t have as much chitin content when compared with mealworms. Therefore, you should save these as treats for your hedgehog, and avoid giving them as a proper meal.
Crickets: Crickets are also available in large quantities, both live and as freeze-dried options. Just like mealworms, crickets also provide a considerable amount of mental stimulation for your hedgehog because they tend to move around a lot.
More importantly, you might want to gut-load the crickets to ensure that they are full of nutrition before you give them to your hedgehog.
Fruits: As mentioned, hedgehogs are omnivores. However, you should generally avoid feeding dried fruits to your hedgehog. A bit of fresh fruit makes for an excellent treat for the animal. There are plenty of different fruits that you can feed to your hedgehog, such as bananas, berries, apples, melons, and a lot more.
Vegetables: Hedgehogs also love eating vegetables, though they don’t get much of those out in the wild. Therefore, vegetables make for suitable treats for these lovely pets. You might want to consider giving them some fresh green beans or tomatoes from time to time.
On top of that, hedgehogs love eating cooked squash as well. There are quite a few other things that you could feed your pet.
However, you need to avoid giving vegetables that are high in starch content, such as corn or potatoes. Even carrots should be avoided as much as possible. Furthermore, you need to make sure that you don’t feed dried vegetables to your hedgehog.
Cooked Meat: This might take a bit of getting used to, but you can also feed a bit of cooked meat to your hedgehog from time to time. Ideally, you should go for high protein and low-fat meat (usually available as dog or cat food), and give it in small quantities to your pet hedgehog.
You can also give a bit of cooked or boiled chicken to your pet. They won’t have much of an issue in devouring it.
Cooked Eggs: From time to time, you can also feed cooked eggs to your pet hedgehog. They don’t mind eating it, and it serves as an occasional treat for the animal. You can even feed them a hard-boiled egg, and they are going to enjoy eating it. These eggs are packed with protein, so they love eating it!
Baby Mice: These might be harder to find, and many people get grossed out. But, if you want to provide just the natural things that hedgehogs like to eat out in the wild, you might want to feed them a few baby mice from time to time. It offers considerable mental stimulation as they run around.
However, this is a bit of an ask, because feeding mice to a pet hedgehog is definitely going to gross most people out. More importantly, cleaning the cage afterward is going to be a bit of a problem as well.
Cat or Hedgehog Kibble: The most popular option is to go for hedgehog or cat kibble. In most cases, this should constitute the majority of your pet hedgehog’s diet. When investing in high-quality cat or hedgehog kibble, you need to first check the nutrition information given on the back of the bag.
Ideally, you should feed them kibble that contains 30% protein at the very least, and 20% fat. This is the ideal food for your hedgehog, as long as it meets the requirements. There are quite a few formulated diets available as well, including small pellets, which you can feed to your hedgehog as well.
What If You Feed Too Much?
You need to understand that hedgehogs are quite prone to obesity, so if you end up feeding over the top to your hedgehog, it won’t take long before they start getting fat.
You need to carefully monitor the quantity of food that you give to the hedgehog. Furthermore, if you give too much to eat to your pet, it’s obviously going to defecate a lot more.
As mentioned above, hedgehogs already tend to poop quite a bit, so feeding them anymore will just make your problem worse. You will constantly find yourself cleaning the hedgehog’s cage if you feed it over the top. Therefore, you need to carefully control the amount of kibble that you give to the pet.
Each day, you should only give just one or two tablespoons of kibble to your adult pet. Apart from that, you can add a tablespoon of fruits or veggies, and then a few insects to round off their meal for the day. It’s always important to add a bit of variety to their diet, as it greatly improves their interest in food.
As your hedgehog grows and becomes heavier and more active, you might have to increase their intake accordingly. However, you can use a baby scale to monitor your hedgehog’s weight. If you notice a weight increase of more than 10%, you might want to cut back on their diet a bit.
Also, you need to understand that hedgehogs tend to eat a bit more at night, especially when they are active and running around on their wheel. Therefore, you don’t have to worry when you see the animal eating less during the course of the day.
As long as you are able to monitor its weight and don’t notice any serious increase, your pet is doing fine.
Feeding too much to your hedgehog is a bad idea, and you will notice that the animal will become a bit lethargic. Not only that, but it will start pooping much more than you would realize within a short amount of time. Avoid feeding heavy items to your hedgehog, and control their diet, because they definitely won’t.
The more you give to your hedgehog, the more it’s going to eat. You definitely don’t want to see its running wheel covered in poop by the time you wake up!
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. I have a wife and two children and love taking them to the zoo to see all the animals. I grew up with dogs and fish and now have two dogs and two cats. I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.