Kute Kwills is located in the UK, so most information here is based on UK guidelines , much will apply wherever you are, but different countries will deem different things as "acceptable"
It is important not to over feed your hedgehog as this can lead to serious health issues. A balanced low fat diet is generally what they need, unless otherwise instructed by your breeder. There are the exceptions who require extra to maintain healthy weight.
THIS IS JUST A ROUGH GUIDE AND NOT A COMPLETE LIST OF SAFE AND UNSAFE FOODS, OR FOODS TO BE INCLUDED IN YOUR HOGS DIET. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS DO THOROUGH RESEARCH INTO ANY PET YOU WISH TO TAKE ON, AND HEDGEHOGS ARE NO EXCEPTION. BE SURE TO TALK TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE OWNED HEDGEHOGS FOR YEARS AND HAVE A GOOD TRACK RECORD ON THEIR ANIMALS HEALTH AND LONGEVITY.
Here are some of the foods we have used in our mixes:
1. PurinaPro Plan House cat, rich in chicken
2.James Wellbeloved Adult cat Light Turkey
3. Applepaws Chicken
4. Purina One Sensitive
5. Concept For Life Light
2x a week mince or fresh chicken breast
2x a week flaxseed oil added to catfood
Mine refuse to eat veg or fruits so I gut feed my live mealworms those things
- Foods SHOULD contain:
- High quality protein sources
- Meat protein sources should be in the top two ingredients in the ingredient list.
- Chicken, chicken meal, and lamb are the best protein sources for insectivores because they are the most easily digested.
- Pork and beef are cheaper sources of protein but not as easily digested.
- Foods that contain several protein sources tend to be more beneficial because they provide a wider variety of amino acids that are the building blocks of all cells.
- Appropriate protein and fat ratio.
- Different protein and fat levels are required during different times of the hedgehog’s growth and development.
- Nursing moms and growing babies need more protein (30-35%) than hedgehogs at a maintenance level.
- A higher fat content is beneficial for animals that require more calories but too much fat can lead to obesity and its associated health problems.
- Many foods are available in regular and light forms.
- Lite forms of cat foods are traditionally used at the maintenance level.
- Appropriate kibble size and hardness
- Hedgehogs have a small mouth compared to cats and dogs. They do not use their feet to pick up their food and nibble it as would rodents and some other small animals.
- One must be willing to crush a larger sized kibble.
- Some crunch in food helps to clean hedgehog’s teeth similar to what the exoskeletons of insects would in the wild. Tooth decay can result from a diet of only soft foods.
- Very hard foods can wear down or damage teeth and may be impossible for hedgehogs to eat that have missing or broken teeth.
- A consistent diet of soft foods can also lead to tooth and gum diseases.
- AVOID the following in foods:
- Sunflower seeds, peanuts, or other seeds and nuts are best left for rodents and birds. Hedgehogs do not have a beak, specialized tongue or the use of their front paws to help them crack and eat the meat of sunflower seed. Seeds and nuts are serious choking hazards. Numerous hedgehogs have been reported to have peanuts stuck in the roof of their mouth. Read hedgehog food labels carefully. A couple brands contain seeds and nuts in their food and treats.
- Raisins and other dried fruits and vegetables sound good in theory but are actually more harmful than good. Raisins and dried fruit tend to stick to hedgehogs’ tiny teeth and the roof of their mouth and are likely to cause tooth decay. Dried vegetables are hard for the hedgehog to chew as well as hard for the hedgehog to digest. Read hedgehog food labels carefully. A couple brandscontain dried fruits and vegetables in their food and treats.
- Meat by products, fats or other food components that are listed generically such as: meat and bone meal, poultry by products, animal proteins or animal fats. The best sources of protein are those that specifically list the type of meat and fat: chicken, chicken meal, etc.
- Studies have linked artificial fillers and preservatives in pet foods to cancers, ear infections, respiratory infections, joint problems, and a myriad of other health and wellness problems. (Hyne)
- One must be careful when looking at fillers because fillers can be processed differently and some may contain low-level chemicals due to the processing.
- Soy hulls are used by Pet-Pro specifically to increase the fiber that would ordinarily be obtained in nature. While some may some consider soy hulls filler, it decreases the need for added fibers. Pet-Pro Products uses natural fibers come from the use of whole grains in the products.
- The fiber and filler debate can be quite confusing because the nutritional value can be different for the same product depending on the type of processing.
Hedgehogs have somewhat sensitive digestive systems and can become obese easily, so it’s important to know what types of foods can be harmful to your pet hedgehog and what to avoid.
- Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, so it’s important to avoid most dairy products. They can have small amounts of yogurt and cottage cheese no more than once per week
- Hedgehogs can eat meat, however you should avoid excess amounts of red meats and fatty meats due to the low-fat diet requirements of hedgehogs
- Although hedgehogs do eat mainly insects in the wild, avoid bait shop insects because they can contain toxic insecticides.
- Some fruits, including grapes and raisins, are harmful to hedgehogs.
- Do not feed your hedgehog nuts – they are not digested well by hedgehogs, and are very difficult for them to chew.
- Crickets, silkworms or mealworms are the types of insects pet hedgehogs prefer.
- Ensure that the insects are farm-raised. You can find these types of insects at pet stores.
- Never feed your hedgehog insects from your garden or from a bait shop. These insects can contain poisonous insecticides and chemicals.
- Never feed your hedgehog exclusively on insects, as it will be too fatty and not contain all required nutrients.
Baby food makes an excellent treat for hedgehogs because they contained already-prepared and easy to digest fruits, vegetables, and meats.
According to the breeders at Hedgehog Headquarters, Gerber Stage 2 baby foods, especially Meat in Gravy flavor, is a favorite of many hedgehogs. They warn against feeding your pet hedgehog any baby food labeled above Stage 2, because of the added sugar content and other ingredients.
Pet hedgehogs need variety so other foods they may eat include: cooked lean chicken, turkey and mince beef (in small amounts due to fat content). Hedgehogs will often eat a few vegetables and can be given small amounts of fruit as treats. Scrambled Egg ( NO Butter , NO Milk ) or Hard Boiled Egg are also safe. These foods are not the staple diet and should only be given in addition to the dried cat food to add variety.
A sample diet for an adult hedgehog for one day is: 2 tablespoons dry low fat cat food; 1-2 tablespoons mixed fresh vegetables and 3-5 insects 3-4 times a week. Invertebrates are important to the diet, especially for breeding sows, and may include mealworms, worms, locust and crickets.
Some Safe Foods:
- Sweet Potatoes.
- Potatoes (mash with no milk/butter)
- Bell Peppers.
- Sweet Corn.
- A few peas.
SOME UNSAFE FOODS FOR HEDGEHOG:
- Fish or Fish based foods
- Citrus Fruits
- Grape Fruit.
- Dried fruit
- Junk foods.
- Seeds and nuts
- MILK PRODUCTS