As I was randomly browsing through the Internet for pet ideas for my family, I came upon this website that discusses raising exotic pets such as hedgehogs. They became a popular choice because of their unique appearance and easy-care requirements. Hedgehogs as pets are more suitable for busy households like ours because they don’t need much attention. Most importantly, they can also entertain children as they would normally play and do basic tricks in their playground.
But unlike dogs which you can feed with store-bought dog foods, I wonder what to feed hedgehogs if ever I get one as a pet.
Hedgehogs are insectivores which mean they feed primarily on insects. In the wild, they are known as opportunistic eaters because they also eat mollusks such as snails and worms, ground beetles, slugs, caterpillars, crickets, small animals and vegetation. This information is an important consideration when raising a hedgehog as a pet.
When raising a hedgehog as a domestic pet, you need to feed it with foods that hedgehogs commonly eat in the wild. You can easily find some insects in your garden as its food. However, during summer or winter when these crawlies become scarce, your pet will benefit from supplemental feeding of commercial hedgehog foods. Look for feeds that contain chitin which is a material present in the exoskeleton of insects. Many breeders consider this material as a vital component of a hedgehog diet. Canned or freeze-dried waxworms, mealworms and crickets may also be available and you can use them as treats. But if hedgehog food is not available, you can also use low fat and high in protein cat food as a substitute. You could also feed your pet with table foods such as cooked lean mean in small portions.
Basically, hedgehog daily diet should be composed of a combination of any of the following:
- Meat-based high quality dog or cat food
- Unsalted crushed or chopped peanuts
- Dried mealworms
- Small amount of dried fruits and vegetables
- Sunflower hearts
As hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, avoid giving your pet dairy products especially milk because they may cause stomach problems on your pet. But occasionally, you could give low-fat plain yogurt which contains healthy bacteria that process lactose. Also avoid foods that have added sugar and insects that were caught in the wild or using bait because they may contain traces of insecticides that can be harmful to your pet. It is best if you have your own garden where you can get them.
Hedgehogs have the tendency to be obese. So if you notice that your pet is gaining much weight, you could start cutting back on high fat foods and encourage it to play or exercise. Doing so can also help your pet lower its risk of developing a fatty liver disease which is common among these animals.
From what I read in several sources, hedgehogs have a unique diet composed of a combination of insects, meat, fruits and vegetables. It is important that pet owners should give their pet the right nutrition for their overall health and to avoid obesity and certain health conditions.