Veterinarians understand the nutritional requirements of dogs, cats, and several other domesticated animal species, but the nutritional requirements of hedgehogs are relatively unknown. The following recommended home-made diets and the commercial formulated diets are based on hedgehog anatomy and physiology, and on years of observation by veterinarians and other people familiar with hedgehog health and illness. Free-ranging hedgehogs are insectivores and omnivores. Captive diets should be relatively high in protein ( 22 to 40%) and low in fat (5 to 20%).
THE MAIN DIET
Hedgehogs should be fed a main diet supplemented with additional nutritionally appropriate foods. The best main food is commercially formulated hedgehog diet. Formulated diets should be uniform kibbles - all the pieces of food should look the same. Blends and mixes that contain some pellets combined with other food items are only balanced if the hedgehog eats all of the ingredients, and that will not happen - they will always pick and choose. Mazuri Hedgehog Diet is the best hedgehog food; 8 in 1 Ultrablend Select Nutrient Rich Hedgehog Diet is very good. Both are readily available online and in some pet stores.
If Hedgehog food is unavailable, alternatives are premium commercial cat food and insectivore diets. Young or pregnant hedgehogs can be fed kitten or ferret diets.
Obesity is a common health problem for hedgehogs. Young, pregnant, or lactating pets can be fed free-choice, but the amount should be measured out for all others. One to two tablespoons per day is a reasonable starting point for most adults.
THE DAILY SUPPLEMENTAL FOODS
The main diet should be supplemented daily with nutritionally appropriate foods in appropriate amounts. On to two teaspoons of canned cat or dog food, cooked meat or egg can be combined with ½ teaspoon fruit (banana, grape, apple, pear, berries) or vegetables (cooked and uncooked beans, carrots, squash, peas, tomatoes and leafy greens. An example of a high-quality hedgehog chopped salad is: ½ teaspoon diced spinach, kale, or leaf lettuce; ¼ teaspoon diced carrot, ¼ teaspoon diced apple, ¼ teaspoon diced banana and ¼ teaspoon diced grape or raisin.
Acceptable treats include mealworms, earthworms, waxworms, crickets and cat treats. Mealworms are high calorie and low calcium and should be limited to 6 to 10 smaller mealworms 2 to 3 times per week. Insects should be fed (“gut-loaded” for two to three days after purchase; Mazuri High Calcium Gut-Loading Diet is ideal - we stock this in small bags at Yarmouth Vet Center for owners requiring small amounts.)