Hedgehogs have become a lot more popular as pets within the past decade or two, which is a very exciting thing to hear! These interesting little creatures are so adorable and have a big personality for their small body.
Because of this, it makes sense that hedgehog owners would want to make sure that their companion is as happy and healthy as possible.
One of the most influential factors of a hedgehog's health is their food, as it impacts their health, growth, and happiness. So, this begs the question: What's the best hedgehog food?
There are several things to consider while choosing a hedgehog food for your spiky friend. So, we've created this guide so that you know what your hedgehog needs and what to look for in a hedgehog food.
What Do Hedgehogs Eat In The Wild?
In order to pick the best hedgehog food, we first need to consider what hedgehogs regularly eat in the wild. Although hedgehogs are kept as pets around the world, they've been roaming freely around the earth for 15 million years! During this time, they've barely changed, eating roughly the same foods and adapting to efficiently digest and process those foods.
Because of this, it's important that you match your hedgehogs diet to the diet of a wild hedgehog -- that's what their bodies are designed for!
Hedgehogs are primarily insectivores, meaning that they eat a wide variety of different insects to get their essential nutrients. However, they're not very picky animals, and they've been seen eating slugs, frogs, mice, worms, fish, eggs, and even some fruit in addition to insects.
This means that their digestive systems aren't extremely finicky, but still need to be considered when you're picking out a diet. Because insects with a high protein level are the staple food of a wild hedgehog, that's what we'll be focusing on when looking for the best hedgehog food.
How To Properly Feed Your Hedgehog
Because of the fact that there are many different hedgehog owners, there are many different opinions on how hedgehogs should be fed. Some owners believe that hedgehogs should have constant access to food, while others believe that their daily food should be broken up into two or three feedings.
In the wild, hedgehogs aren't really sure about when they're going to have their next meal. Therefore, they eat consistently throughout the day whenever they come across. It's this reasoning that leads many owner to believe that hedgehogs should be free-fed.
Every hedgehog is different, though. If your hedgehog eats their food very quickly, it may be a good idea to split up feedings so that they don't have to go without food for a very long time.
It can be easy to lose track of how much food your hedgehog is getting, so keep a close eye on your food supply. Doing so will make sure that they're adequately fed and not left with stale food.
It's recommended that standard hedgehogs get 2-4 level tablespoons of dry food, in addition to 1-2 teaspoons of a moist foods such as canned cat food, cooked egg, or cooked meat. This is just a baseline, though. Every hedgehog is different, so you must monitor your hedgehog's diet and make sure that you're meeting their needs.
One thing to note is that a hedgehog's diet isn't an exact science. Because of this, it's recommended that you provide your hedgehog with a variety of different foods to ensure that they're getting their necessary nutrition. Many owners feed their hedgehogs a blend of two different foods in addition to healthy treats.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Cat Food?
Whether or not hedgehogs can eat cat food has been a debated topic for a while, and there's quite an interesting bit of information behind this debate.
For a very long time, commercial hedgehog food wasn't available anywhere. When hedgehog-specific food finally came out, it left much to be desired. Therefore, many people decided to feed their hedgehogs cat food as it's easily attainable, packed with protein, and has small kibble pieces that hedgehogs can eat.
Ever since this time, even though decent hedgehog food has become available, many owners only feed their hedgehogs cat foot.
Although it may seem like a compromise, cat food isn't bad for hedgehogs. As long as the food itself has high levels of protein and fiber, low amounts of fat and fillers, and comes in bite-sized pieces, hedgehogs should thrive off of it.
Cat food is also great for owners as it's a lot more readily-available, tends to be cheaper, and there's quite a large variety of it.
So in short, yes, hedgehogs can eat cat food. Not every cat food is suitable for them, though. You need to ensure that their specific dietary needs are being met by the food. It's necessary that you give a cat food's nutritional content special attention due to the fact that it's not being crafted with a hedgehog's needs in mind.
In fact, cat food is so good for hedgehogs that we can only recommend that you feed your hedgehog cat food! The hedgehog food that's available simply has too many fillers and not enough wholesome ingredients.
How To Transition A Hedgehog To New Food
The above information may be shocking to existing hedgehog owners, and that's entirely understandable! It's a shame that the food that's marketed as "hedgehog food" isn't actually suitable for hedgehogs.
Fortunately, if you're already feeding your hedgehog 'hedgehog food', it isn't a difficult process to transition them into a good food.
Note that hedgehogs have sensitive stomachs, meaning that most hedgehogs will have an upset stomach with a sudden change in food. Some hedgehogs can also be very picky and start a hunger strike, and this will require syringe-feeding after a day or two of refusing to eat.
When you're first introducing the new food, it's best that you do so while incorporating the old food into the new food over a period of a few weeks. This allows them to mentally and physically ease into the new food and avoid most complications that may arise.
The typical transition plan that people follow is:
What Defines The Best Hedgehog Food?
As stated previously, hedgehogs have specific dietary needs that need to be met through their foods. There is a plethora of different hedgehog and cat foods available that don't meet those requirements, so be vigilant in making sure that it follows these guidelines:
What Is The Best Cat Food For Hedgehogs?
We've taken a look at many different hedgehog foods (AKA cat foods), taking into account things such as the price per pound, quality of ingredients, and the well-being of hedgehogs that eat the food. Through this, we've found five foods that would make an excellent staple of your hedgehog's diet.
Remember, every hedgehog is different. While there is a good chance that your hedgehog will respond well to the foods listed below, there is a chance that they may also reject it.
When it comes to suitable cat food for hedgehogs, you're really not going to find better than Gold cat food made by Fromm. This food is takes a holistic approach to a balanced nutrition for cats, but perfectly lines up with the diet of hedgehogs, too.
A big focus on natural ingredients defines this food, as some of the first ingredients are wholesome and keep a hedgehog both full and nourished. Duck and chicken meal are the first two ingredients, closely followed by pearled barley, white rice, and potatoes.
These ingredients combine to provide 30% protein, 10% fat, and 3.5% fiber. Although fiber is on the lower end, a small fiber supplement will easily round out this food.
Cat and hedgehog owners alike seem to love this food! Even the pickiest animals can't get enough of this kibble, and even pets with sensitive stomachs easily keep it down.
Additionally, the high-quality ingredients do an amazing job keeping this food smelling and tasting excellent. Hedgehog owners that combine this food with another kibble that has more fiber say that they're confident that their hedgehog's diet is well-rounded.
The only downside to this food is the presence of barley and rice in the first few ingredients. The presence of these ingredients may be a turnoff for some owners. However, these are totally fine for hedgehogs to eat as long as they're getting enough nutrients otherwise. All that's necessary is to keep an eye on your hedgehog to make sure they're not gaining excess amounts of weight.
Nutro's formula for indoor cat food is fantastic for hedgehogs, making it one of the best hedgehog foods available. This food boasts that its #1 ingredient is farm-raised chicken, providing a great taste in a wholesome and nourishing way.
All ingredients were selected to keep the calorie content fairly low with a fat content of 14%, as it's formulated for indoor cats that don't get too much exercise. On top of its great protein content of 33%, this food also has a good fiber content of 7% to promote healthy digestion.
There's also a good presence of omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and a total lack of GMO ingredients that may be questionable.
Pet owners love this food, commending it for its natural ingredients that seem to agree with most digestive systems quite well. Hedgehogs themselves seem to love this food, too, as the pellets are easy to eat and taste great due to the focus on farm-raised chicken.
It excellently aligns with a hedgehog's dietary requirements, meaning that not much supplementation is needed beyond this food.
Much like virtually every other food, this food contains rice as some of the main ingredients. This is done to round out the food and make pets feel more full and satisfied. However, some owners don't like this. As stated previously, the presence of grain is no issue as long as you keep a close eye on your hedgehog's weight.
Blue Buffalo is an established and trusted pet food manufacturer, and this food shows that very well. Made for adult cats that need special attention with their weight control, this food is exactly what hedgehogs need in their diet.
The first two ingredients are deboned chicken and chicken meal with absolutely no chicken by-products, followed by whole grains and healthy veggies. The antioxidant-rich ingredients that contain essential vitamins and minerals do a great job providing hedgehogs with a well-rounded diet and meeting their tough nutritional needs.
At 30% protein, 10% fat and 9% fiber, this food is exactly what hedgehogs need to thrive.
There are many hedgehog owners that have been feeding this food to their hedgehogs for years with great results. They state that it keeps their hedgehog full, they notice excess amounts of energy, and there isn't a problem with excessive weight gain.
The great nutritional content doesn't require much supplementation, either. On top of everything, virtually no hedgehogs turn their nose up at this food.
Once again, this food does contain brown rice and barley. This is not a bad thing, especially since the first two ingredients are chicken and chicken meal, but it may be a concern. However, this food is created with weight control in mind, meaning that the presence of grains shouldn't be a problem for weight control.
A bit of a different food than the rest of the foods highlighted in this post, Natural Balance's limited ingredient food is still a great choice for hedgehog owners. As the name suggests, this food has fewer ingredients than most other foods on the market, making it a good choice for owners looking to take a more natural, holistic approach.
Duck comprises some of the first ingredients of this food, providing a healthy, lean protein source. Peas are also used as an excellent energy source, and canola oil, salmon oil, and flaxseed are added to supply omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
This all results in a protein content of 29.5%, fat content of 11.5%, and fiber content of 5%.
Hedgehog owners seem to have great success with this food. Fat hedgehogs easily lost weight, while underweight hedgehogs fattened up to a normal weight. It's an easy food for hedgehogs to eat, and it stays down and digests without a problem.
The nutritional content also keeps owners from worrying whether or not their hedgehogs are getting all of their nutrients.
Although this food is great now, it used to be a lot better. A formula change within the last couple of years has added some ingredients to this food, and some cats responded worse to it. Hedgehogs don't seem to mind the change, though.
Additionally, peas are the first ingredient in this food. Peas are high in calcium, so while this food shouldn't cause any problems, avoid feeding your hedgehog any excess calcium outside of this food.
Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul needs to change their name to include 'hedgehog' somewhere in there. This long-standing food is excellent for hedgehogs and a staple in many of their diets. Chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients, with turkey meal as the fourth ingredient.
It uses natural vegetable fiber to reduce the calorie content of the food while still providing enough nutritional value. It's a great food for hedgehogs struggling with their weight, as the protein content is 34% with 9% fat and 8% fiber.
Hedgehog owners that feed their pets this food swear by it, stating that it's fantastic for them. The natural ingredients are hard to beat, and most hedgehogs have no problem eating this food. Owners also love the fact that there's no wheat or corn, meaning that there's more of a focus on wholesome ingredients.
There aren't too many complains about this food! The one concern is that some cats and hedgehogs don't like the taste of this food, meaning that it was a bit of a waste. However, most pets do like the taste, so it's a safe assumption that your hedgehog will, too.
All of the foods that we have reviewed are more than suitable for hedgehogs and contain all of the essential nutrients that they need to live a happy and healthy life. Hedgehogs have specific dietary needs -- needs that aren't met by commercial hedgehog foods. Therefore, the cat foods listed above provide the best nourishment for these prickly creatures.
After analyzing all of the food on the market that suitable for hedgehogs, we've determined that the best cat food for hedgehogs is Fromm Mature Gold Dry Cat Food.
This well-priced cat food has been carefully crafted to provide excellent nutritional value that hedgehogs benefit immensely from. While this food is the best of the best, any of the foods in this list would make your hedgehog more than happy.