While most people love hanging around with furry little cuties by their side, some opt to have spikey babies as pets: hedgehogs. Or perhaps you have a hedgehog family living in your backyard and you want to keep them fed and happy.
A great food option for feeding hedgehogs is cat food. Although they differ physically, cats and hedgehogs do share some similar nutritional requirements. Luckily for pet owners, some pet foods are perfect for a hedgehog’s diet. They need moisture, protein, fiber and fat.
Things to consider when choosing a cat food for hedgehogs
Natural food for hedgehogs
What do hedgehogs eat in the wild? As a pet owner, you should look for pet food that includes some of the same ingredients as your hedgehog’s diet. While cats eat mostly meat-based diets, hedgehogs consume vegetables and insects, in addition to slightly larger meat sources.
Before we decide what to feed our pets, we must educate ourselves on what they need nutritionally to properly meet their dietary requirements.
The best way to know what kind of food works best for hedgehogs is to either try them all or ask others who have already tried some food options. You might have to resort to trial and error when figuring out what your hedgehog likes best.
Guidelines to follow
When looking for a cat food that will suit your hedgehog’s diet, make sure you choose something that follows these guidelines:
- Make sure that the ingredients on the label are specified clearly (for example, it should be listed as chicken or salmon rather than poultry or fish).
- The protein level should be between 30 to 35 percent.
- Make sure that the fat level doesn’t exceed 15 percent to avoid obesity.
- The food should be free from by-products and derivatives.
- Check the label for GMO products, grain content, artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors.
- Look for Omega 3 fatty acids, they are a healthy addition.
- Make sure that the fiber content is 5 percent or higher. If you can’t find a pet food with enough fiber, add insects, fruits, and root vegetables to your hedgehog’s diet
- Ensure that the company that produces the product has good animal welfare and sustainability practices.
What do hedgehogs eat?
Cats and hedgehogs are quite the opposite when it comes to their natural diets. As you are probably aware, cats in the wild usually dine on meats, including things like mice, lizards and birds.
Meanwhile, hedgehogs generally feast on small insects, vegetables, and fruits such as berries, potatoes, carrots and beets. In the wild, hedgehogs often sneak into gardens to find food. It is also natural that they sometimes eat lizards, snails, mollusks, and even snakes. Hedgehogs are omnivores.
If we aim to provide the nutrients that hedgehogs are supposed to have close in their natural diets, the food that we should give them must contain a lot of fiber (at least 5%), as well as at least 20% protein and 15% fat.
It can be challenging to find cat foods with more than 5% fiber since cat foods don’t usually have enough fiber in them. So, you may need to add a supplement.
Cats are essentially carnivores, so most cat foods usually focus on protein content rather than fiber and fat content. You should also make sure your hedgehog has enough L-carnitine in its diet.
Like cats, hedgehogs aren’t fond of drinking water, which makes hydration and moisture content in their food a crucial thing to consider. Avoid giving your hedgehog dried foods like dried cat kibbles. Fruits and vegetables are the best option for your hedgehog’s hydration.
Which type of food is best for hedgehogs?
Not solely wet foods
While wet foods might be healthy and beneficial for cats, they aren’t the best option for hedgehogs. Hedgehogs have 44 teeth that need to stay sharp, so their diet should be supplemented with enough hard and crunchy treats to munch on.
Make sure there’s enough moisture
Although hedgehogs need hard foods to maintain their teeth’ sharpness, you should also remember that they also need enough moisture in their foods. What you provide them should not be completely devoid of moisture so they stay hydrated. Juicy fruits and vegetables are a good option.
Why do they feed cat food to hedgehogs?
Cat foods usually contain a high amount of protein, which hedgehogs also need. Another reason people feed cat food to hedgehogs is that there are not many high-quality hedgehog foods on the market because hedgehogs are not usually pets.
Cat food like small kibbles make a good food for your spikey pet because hedgehogs can easily chew them and they contain plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Things to know about hedgehogs
How can I feed my hedgehog without attracting cats?
The best way to deter your cats from eating your hedgehog’s food is to create a DIY feeding area that is big enough for a hedgehog to get into and out of, but too small for a cat.
Should you feed hedgehogs every night?
Hedgehogs, just like cats, are very active during nighttime. It’s a good idea to put out food for your hedgehog every night. Right after it starts to get dark is the time when they usually begin to search for food. It is also good to leave fresh water instead of milk since hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, and milk can make them sick.
What should you not feed hedgehogs?
You should avoid offering your hedgehogs dairy products such as milk. Some fruits like grapes, raisins, citrus, avocado, and pineapple are also not good for hedgehogs. Onion, garlic, potato, tomato, nuts, seeds, chocolate, and mushrooms are also bad for them. Don’t feed them processed, raw, seasoned, or fried meat.
How much dry cat food should I feed hedgehogs?
Commonly, hedgehogs must be fed at least 1 to 4 teaspoons per day. However, the level of food to be provided should be adapted to meet their activity level, age, gender, size, and health. It is also a great idea to offer them a supplementary number of insects, fruits, and vegetables for moisture if there are available sources.
Deciding what to give your hedgehog if you are a new pet parent is undoubtedly as hard as deciding what to feed your cats. Just remember to provide them with enough high-moisture kibbles to keep them hydrated and keep their sharp teeth on point. Make sure they also have water dish available at all times.