What Do Hedgehogs Eat?

Lauren Jones, VMD
By Lauren Jones, VMD on Mar. 18, 2024
Hedgehog eating from bowl

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Feeding exotic pets can be difficult but rewarding, and hedgehogs are no exception! Pet parents can provide proper diet and nutrients for their hedgehog with research and veterinary guidance. So, what do hedgehogs eat?

What Can Hedgehogs Eat?

Most of the hedgehogs in the U.S. are African pygmy hedgehogs, which are native to the African savannah. They are omnivores and primarily insectivores, which means they eat a mix of animal protein (primarily insects) and plants.

Hedgehogs eat a variety of food in the wild, and pet parents should provide similar nutrition to keep a hedgie healthy. Their diet should rotate through insects, fruits, and veggies for proper nutrition and mental stimulation. It gets boring eating the same thing all the time!

Hedgehog food staples include:

  • Insects

  • Animal protein

  • Vegetables

  • Fruit

  • Hedgehog pellets

  • Water


Hedgehogs are omnivores, but they need relatively high levels of high-quality protein in their diets. They eat more insects in the wild than plants or animal proteins. Great insect options to feed pet hedgehogs include:

  • Crickets

  • Earthworms

  • Mealworms

Dried insects have less nutritional value, so they are OK as treats but not as a staple food.

Animal Protein

In the wild, hedgehogs will eat:

  • Small frogs

  • Lizards

  • Snakes

  • Carrion

  • Small mammals

Some pet parents offer their hedgehog pinkie mice, but this is not a requirement for a happy and healthy pet hedgehog.


Fruits and veggies do not make up a large portion of a hedgie’s diet, but they are important nonetheless. Offer your hedgehog beta-carotene-rich veggies in addition to small amounts of fruits, which hedgehogs love. Avoid starchy vegetables, as hedgehogs prefer dark and leafy greens. Some produce options to feed a hedgehog include:

  • Spinach

  • Kale

  • Cooked carrots

  • Apples

  • Pears

  • Bananas

Commercial Hedgehog Diets

Ideally, pet parents should always offer pelleted diets that are specific to hedgehogs. Choose food from companies that employ veterinary nutritionists to ensure a properly balanced diet. Veterinarians commonly trust Oxbow®, Mazuri®, and Exotic Nutrition® for exotic formulations.


Hedgehogs should have constant access to clean, fresh drinking water. They will drink from a bowl, but many pet parents use a bottle on the side of the cage. Use water that is safe for human consumption. Pet parents typically offer bottled or filtered tap water, based on water quality.

Best Food for Hedgehogs

Provide a safe, species-specific diet for your hedgehog, such as:

What Can Hedgehogs Not Eat?

Hedgehogs can occasionally eat human foods, such as cooked lean meat, fruits, and vegetables. Always check with a veterinarian before feeding anything new to your hedgehog, and remember that human food should not make up the majority of their diet. Treats, including any human food, should account for less than 5% of the hedgie’s diet and be offered once or twice a week.

While hedgehogs thrive on variety, foods they should absolutely not eat include:

  • Dairy products

  • Eggs

  • Raw meat

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Avocados

  • Hard foods that could get stuck in their mouth (such as raw carrots or peanuts)

Avoid low-nutrition foods like lettuce and celery unless your hedgie is trying to lose weight. Always consult with a veterinarian prior to starting a diet.

How To Feed a Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are fairly easy to feed as pets. They may even enjoy “hunting” for insects as part of their daily routine, like how they would hunt in the wild.

Every hedgie is different and will have different nutritional requirements. Always talk to a veterinarian when discussing a feeding plan for a pet hedgie. Keep the following in mind when you feed your hedgehog:

  1. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so they usually eat at night.

  2. Keep the pelleted food in a small bowl in the enclosure. Hedgies are prone to obesity, so it is vital to work with a veterinarian to determine the proper feeding amounts. Feed only what the hedgehog should eat in one day, and discard any uneaten food daily.

  3. Amounts will vary, but typically, hedgies need 1–3 tablespoons of commercial diets daily.

  4. Water can be kept in a bowl on the enclosure's floor, or in a sipper bottle to prevent spills. Check the tube of a sipper bottle daily to ensure it is not clogged and is functioning properly.

  5. Insects should be purchased commercially, not caught in the wild, due to potential chemical exposure (insecticides or fertilizers), which could be fatal to a hedgehog if they eat an infected insect.

  6. Commercially purchased insects should be fed nutritious insect food for at least 24 hours before they are fed to a hedgehog. This is known as gut-loading. Again, the amount to feed will vary based on the hedgehog’s body condition, so working with a veterinarian to determine caloric needs is crucial. Most hedgies consume five to ten insects every day. Mealworms are higher in fat, so they should be fed less often. Do not allow insects to live in the enclosure with the hedgehog, as they can cause injury to a hedgie when they sleep.

  7. Fruit and veggies should be offered in small amounts, typically 1–3 teaspoons per day.


  1. Horton S. Hedgehog Care (African). Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital.

  2. Pollock C. Basic Information Sheet: African Pygmy Hedgehog. Lafeber Vet. 2019.

  3. Nijboer J. Nutrition in Insectivores, Edentates, and Aardvarks. Merck Veterinary Manual. 2022.

  4. Johnson-Delaney C. Hedgehogs (Atelerix albiventris/Erinaceus europaeus) Pet Care. Veterinary Information Network. 2011.


Lauren Jones, VMD


Lauren Jones, VMD


Dr. Lauren Jones graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 2010, after receiving her bachelor's degree...

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