What do pygmy hedgehogs eat

Generally, African pygmy hedgehogs are naturally omnivorous mammals.  In the wild, pygmy hedgehogs eat a wide range of insects and small animals including

  • Beetles
  • Earwigs
  • Slugs
  • Caterpillars
  • Fly larvae
  • Millipedes
  • Snails
  • Earthworms
  • Mealworms
  • Baby mice
  • Ground beetles

Additionally, pygmy hedgehogs also eat some fruits and vegetables.

When caring for a pet pygmy hedgehog, it is paramount to provide them with the right nutrition. Providing a well-balanced diet that is as close as possible to their wild diet ensures that they stay healthy and increases their lifespan.

There is a wide range of foods that pet pygmy hedgehogs can eat. We have made this article to serve as a guide to help you choose the right diet for your African pygmy hedgehog.

What type of food can I feed my pet pygmy hedgehog?

There are several types of food that you can feed your pygmy hedgehog including

  1. Insects
  2. Hedgehog kibble
  3. High quality cat and dog food
  4. Fruits and vegetables
  5. Lean Meats
  6. Cooked eggs

What Insects can pygmy hedgehogs eat?

Insects are an important part of hedgehog diet in the wild. They provide hedgehogs with proteins and chitin that are important for hedgehogs.

You can therefore incorporate insects as part of your pet hedgehog’s diet. However, insects used as feeds tend to be fatty and can lead to obesity if fed without bias. Therefore, you should feed insects as an occasional treat and not as the staple food.

Additionally, overfeeding insects can lead to ingestion of too much proteins that can lead to organ failure.

The other issue with feeding insects is widespread use of insecticides. The insects may have been sprayed with chemicals that are potentially toxic to your hedgehog.

When feeding insects, do not feed wild caught insects as they may bring bacteria or parasites to your hedgehog that could lead to health problems.

Buy feeding insects from reputable breeders or local pet stores that stock insects such as reptile shops.

There are three forms of insects that hedgehogs can eat

  1. Live insects
  2. Freeze dried insects
  3. Canned insects

The following insects are safe for pygmy hedgehogs to eat

  • Mealworms
  • Crickets
  • Beetles
  • Waxworms
  • Grasshoppers
  • Locust
  • Dubia roaches
  • Morio worms
  • Silk worms

Hedgehog kibble

Hedgehog kibble is pet food that has specially been formulated for hedgehogs. It comes in two forms. Either as dry food or wet food.

Note however that production of hedgehog food is not controlled.

When purchasing hedgehog kibble, choose an options that is high in protein and low on fats.

Hedgehog kibble if available should make the largest percentage of pygmy hedgehog diet.

High quality cat and dog food

Most pygmy hedgehog owners feed their hedgehogs on high quality meat based cat or dog food.

Cat kibble is more preferable as it is usually small in size. Dog kibble comes in large sizes that may be difficult for hedgehogs to chew.

You can feed your hedgehog on either dry or wet cat or dog food. Wet food is not preferred by most hedgehog owners as it is mostly junk food.

When selecting cat or dog food to feed your hedgehog, choose one that has a high protein content and low fat content. Cat food made of poultry as the first ingredient is most preferred.

Hedgehogs are greedy eaters and can eat a lot of cat food is fed without bias. You should therefore be careful not to overfeed your hedgehog as it can lead to obesity.

If you have baby hedgehogs, you can feed them on (kitten food- with caution as these may contain dairy products and have high calories).

We recommend the following brands of cat food

  1. Blue Buffalo
  2. Purina
  3. Hills science
  4. IAMs

Read next: Best cat food for African pygymy hedgehogs to find out more.

When feeding your hedgehog on cat or dog kibble we recommend supplementing the diet with treats such as insects so as to provide for essential vitamins and other nutrients.

In the absence of hedgehog kibble, high quality cat food should make the largest percentage of hedgehog diet.

Fruits and Vegetables

Pygmy hedgehogs are omnivorous animals. In the wild apart from eating insects and small animals they also forage on a wide range of fruits and vegetables.

When keeping pygmy hedgehogs you can also offer them a wide range of fruits and vegetables.

The following vegetables are safe for pygmy hedgehogs to eat

  • Cucumbers
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Bell peppers
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh green beans
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Mashed potatoes

Carrots and potatoes have a high starchy content and should therefore be fed only when there is no better alternative as they can lead to obesity.

The following fruits are safe for pygmy hedgehogs to eat

  • Berries
  • Papayas
  • Water melons
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Kiwi
  • Peaches

Avoid dry fruits but give fresh fruits as an occasional treat.

Do not feed your pygmy hedgehog on raisins or grapes as they are potentially toxic to hedgehogs.

Additionally you should feed very sweet fruits such as bananas occasionally as they contain a lot of sugars that can lead to obesity or even diabetes.

Lean Meats

You can feed your pygmy hedgehog on a variety of cooked lean meat. Cook the meat without adding any oil or seasoning. Cut the meat into small sizes that your hedgehog can eat.

You can feed your hedgehog on the following cooked meats

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Lamb
  • Beef
  • Pheasant
  • Kidney
  • Liver

Cooked eggs

Another type of food that pygmy hedgehogs can eat is cooked eggs.

You can also feed hard boiled or scrambled eggs to your pygmy hedgehog.

Give cooked eggs as an occasional treat every once in a while.

Cooked eggs are a good source of proteins which makes them good for pygmy hedgehogs.

What food should I avoid when feeding pygmy hedgehogs?

Feeding your pygmy hedgehog a complete well-balanced diet is paramount for having a healthy hedgehog.  Although there are several food options that pygmy hedgehogs can eat, there are several other foods that you should avoid with hedgehogs.

Some foods if given to hedgehogs can cause stomach problems while others are potentially toxic and could kill your hedgehog.

The following foods are not safe for use with hedgehogs and therefore you should avoid them

  • Dairy products
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Raw meat
  • Processed meat
  • Fried meat
  • Peanuts
  • Chocolate
  • Raisins
  • Grapes
  • Avocadoes
  • Pineapples
  • Citrus fruits
  • Bread
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Junk food
  • Raw egg yolk
  • Spicy food

Read our separate article on what can hedgehogs not eat to find out more why these should not be fed.

Nuts and raising are choking hazards as they can potentially get stuck on the roof of the mouth therefore should be avoided.

Other foods have a very high starch content which can potentially lead to obesity or diabetes if fed without bias. We recommend avoiding foods that have a high starch or fat content such as potatoes, carrots among others. You can however give these as an occasional treat every once in a while.

When feeding insects to your hedgehog, we recommend you avoid using insects that you have caught yourself in the wild. This may have ingested foods that may be toxic to your hedgehog. Others may bring external parasites or cause bacterial infection to your hedgehog. Buy gut loaded insects from reptile shops.

When introducing a new food to your hedgehog, monitor for any sign of stomach upset such as diarrhea or vomiting. If you notice these symptoms discontinue feeding the food and consult your veterinarian for advice.

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