What Do you Feed Your Hedgehog?
Hedgehogs are becoming popular among pet lovers. However, many people keeping them as pets get their diet wrong. Often, hedgehogs are given bread and milk because owners are under the misguided notion that it is good for them. Hedgehogs are not picky eaters so they will eat much of what they have been given. The reality nonetheless is that the milk actually gives them diarrhea and the bread is difficult for them to digest. If you are keeping hedgehogs, it is worth making sure that you give them the right diet.
Hedgehogs are insectivorous animals whose main diet naturally comprises of insects and beetles. Less prominent features of their natural diet include slugs, snails, baby mice, worms, and small snakes. As a pet, you need to ensure that they get a balanced diet comprising mostly of proteins. Here are foods you should give them:
Commercially Available Hedgehog Food
In some locations, you may be able to find commercial hedgehog food. These are suitable for your pet hedgehog; however, you still have to supplement his diet with other hedgehog food options. In the event that you don’t have commercial hedgehog food in your area, you can feed him dry cat food, which is actually the best option for him on a nutritional level. If you do feed him a hedgehog food or dry cat food, you can place these in a dish in his cage and leave it there, as these foods are considered free-range hedgehog food options since hedgehogs as pets can have access to them all day long.
Rodents as Hedgehog Food
Small mice and pinkies are good options for hedgehog food. It is important for you to watch the interaction between the hedgehog and the rodent. Because most rodents are captive bred, they don’t know that they can’t, and shouldn’t, mess with a hedgehog. This means that the rodent may try to attack your hedgehog. Although he can probably protect himself, it is still possible that your hedgehog may get hurt trying to protect himself.
Insects as Hedgehog Food
Beetles, mealworms, and crickets are some of the preferred hedgehog food options. In the wild, hedgehogs burrow into the ground in a search for hedgehog food. Some of the more common foods they eat are insects. Take care if you buy giant mealworms for your hedgehog, as these may stay alive after they are swallowed. To prevent this, cut the head off before feeding it to your hedgehog.
Other Hedgehog Food Choices
Your hedgehog needs a variety of fruits and vegetables to supplement other hedgehog food. When hedgehogs forage in the wild, they usually get into gardens and can dine on many of the fruits and vegetables there. While you don’t necessarily have to, it is a good idea to wash the fruits and vegetables, and cut them up before placing them in your hedgehog’s food dish.
While feeding your hedgehog a variety of hedgehog food items is very important, ensuring that he has fresh water is equally important. Place a water dish in your hedgehog’s cage or attach a water bottle to it. Check the water level at least twice per day to make sure that your hedgehog has water. If the water gets stale, bacteria and harmful organisms may colonize in the water, which may lead to your hedgehogs as pets getting sick.
Moist Cat/Dog Food
Get a moist cat or dog food that is meat or chicken based. The food should be high in protein. If you have some cooked leftover meat or chicken, you can cut it up into very small pieces and give them to your pets. Minced meat is even better because hedgehogs don’t have the strong dog-like teeth to tear through large pieces of meat.
Vegetables and Fruits
The common advice given to humans that fruits and vegetables should make the larger part of our diet doesn’t apply to hedgehogs. Therefore, go easy on these. Feed your them carrots, apples, grapes, peas, and corn in small amounts.
Mealworms, are to hedgehogs what junk food is to humans; scrumptious but without much benefit for the hedgehogs’ wellbeing. You can give your pet some mealworms but make sure he doesn’t take too much of it. Other treats like cooked eggs and hamburgers can be given in moderation. You can also give your hedgehog some sunflower seeds.
While feeding your pets these foods, make sure that you avoid cheddar cheese. If your hedgehog eats these, it should be in small amounts because it is likely to cause constipation. Other foods to avoid include chopped peanuts, sultanas and raisins. The peanuts, if eaten in large amounts can cause loss of calcium in the bones while sultanas and raisins aren’t good for the teeth. However, if your hedgehog eats some nuts dropped by birds, he should be just fine as long as it’s a small amount.
Finally, you should try to avoid putting out food in the day. This is because maggots from flies can cause harm to your pets. Put out food when flies are less likely to be drawn out to the food, such as in the darkness of the night.