Hedgehogs are fast becoming popular pets in the US, despite not being native to North America. Most of the domesticated hedgehogs in the US are bred from African pygmy hedgehogs. These are the smallest breed of hedgehog and are a hybrid of the four-toed hedgehog and the Algerian hedgehog. The practice of domesticating hedgehogs and keeping them as pets began in the 1980s, but these prickly little creatures have become popular again in recent years.
Like any pet, hedgehogs require special care and attention, and shouldn’t be bought without conducting thorough research first. That said, Hedgehogs are appealing as they require less maintenance than other pets - for example, they do not require walking and are fed less than cats and dogs.
Hedgehogs are omnivorous, meaning they can survive on both a plant-based and meat-based diet. A mixture of the two suits these creatures best, and, just like humans and other animal species, hedgehogs require a balance of protein, fiber, fat, and vitamins and minerals. While hedgehog food is available, this doesn’t always provide the animal with optimal nutrition, often containing unhealthy meat derivatives and additives that are harmful to the hedgehog’s digestive system. Instead, many owners decide to feed their hedgehog cat food.
It may sound strange, but cat food contains more of the nutritional value hedgehogs need to thrive. This includes ingredients such as the amino acid taurine, which is good for eye function, vitamin C for their immune system, calcium, vitamin D for bone health, omega, and also zinc. Cat food also tends to be protein-rich to satisfy a cat’s natural craving for meat, and many hedgehogs also enjoy good quality meat such as chicken in their food.
There's a huge choice of cat food available, and choosing one for your hedgehog can seem overwhelming. Plus, you want to avoid cheaper options that use too much “filler” - such as starch and carbohydrates - to substitute their lack of meat. So, where to start? Whether you’re researching hedgehogs as a potential pet, are already the proud owner of a prickly friend, or are simply hedgehog-curious, keep reading to find out our best cat food picks for hedgehogs.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Made with freshly-caught Alaskan pollock, this dry cat food is 31% protein and is enriched with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids from Ocean Fish Meal and Salmon Oil, which will provide your hedgehog with a daily dose of EPA and DHA to boost their immune system and maintain cognitive and heart health.
Solid Gold contains 90 million living probiotics per pound to keep illness at bay and promote a healthy digestive system. This kibble mix also contains superfoods such as fruit juice, pulp, rind, and skin to provide adequate fiber and antioxidants that help your hedgehog thrive.
With just 9% fat, this food is ideal for adult hedgehogs who are a little on the hefty side, as it will provide them with protein while keeping their fat intake low.
- Protein-rich Alaskan pollock
- High in omega 3 and fatty acids
- 90 million probiotics per pound for healthy bacteria
- Provides fiber and superfoods for a healthy gut
- Low-fat content for weight control
- Has caused some urinary issues for some male cats
Blue cat food is known for providing natural ingredients and real meat. Featuring no by-products but simply protein-rich, deboned chicken, this cat food is perfect for maintaining your hedgehog’s weight and health.
A mix of wholesome grains and fruit and vegetable extracts keeps your hedgehog’s immune system in optimal condition while enriching their diet with fiber for a healthy gut. This food has been specially designed for sensitive stomachs, making it ideal for hedgehogs who are prone to intestinal inflammation.
This dried cat food also contains taurine, an essential amino acid that all pets require but cannot create on their own. This helps support eye and heart health and is especially important for adult hedgehogs.
- Natural ingredients and real meat
- Specially designed for sensitive stomachs
- Contains taurine for eye and heart health
- Rich in fiber for a healthy gut
- Exclusive LifeSource Bits contain a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
- It’s a little on the expensive side - but worth it
Containing real chicken and a blend of 4 real poultry and fish sources, this dried cat food has a minimum of 34% protein to provide your hedgehog with all the nutrients to grow strong and healthy. To ensure your hedgehog gets only the best ingredients, Chicken Soup for the Soul contains no meat by-products, artificial flavors, or preservatives, and is wheat-free, corn-free, and soy-free.
This is a great option for hogs that need low-fat food that still maintains high levels of protein. This dry cat food supports immune health with included antioxidants and superfoods like spinach and cranberries. It also contains prebiotic fiber from dried chicory root for healthy digestion.
- Real meat; blend of 4 real poultry and fish sources
- Low-fat so great for weight maintenance
- No by-products, artificial flavors, or preservatives
- Wheat, corn and soy-free
- Contains antioxidants and superfoods for immune and digestive support
- Finicky eaters were less fussed
Another option from Blue Buffalo, but this time a wet cat food. This cat food recipe contains only the most wholesome ingredients, including real chicken and no poultry by-products or corn. High-quality chicken flakes help support natural muscle maintenance while a gravy sauce makes this even more palatable for your hog.
A mixture of whole grains such as brown rice, barley, and oats will supply your hedgehog with the complex carbohydrates required for energy, while the addition of fruit and vegetable extracts contain phytonutrients that help your hedgehog build a healthy immune system and strong gut.
- Real chicken pieces for protein
- Whole Grains for energy
- Fruit and vegetable extracts help maintain a healthy immune system
- Wet cat food is more palatable
- Great value for money, pack of 24 and subscription option
- Not the best option for sensitive stomachs
This canned wet food is hearty and wholesome and comes from family-owned brand Weruva. The Paw Lickin’ Chicken flavor is perfect for hedgehogs and consists of thinly-shredded chicken that is easy for them to eat and digest. Weruva food is grain-free, gluten-free, and carrageenan-free and contains no corn, wheat, or soy so it shouldn’t irritate the digestive system.
It’s also good for your hog’s urinary tract, as it’s low in phosphorus, magnesium, and ash. This wet food will also keep your hedgehog hydrated thanks to its high water content. When you buy Weruva you’re guaranteed top-quality ingredients and high ethical standards too, thanks to all of their meat being ethically sourced.
- A family-owned company with high-quality ingredients and standards
- Easy for hedgehogs to eat - thinly shredded meat
- Grain-free, Gluten-free, and Carrageenan-free; free from any artificial colors and preservatives
- 100% complete, balanced diet with added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
- It’s pretty expensive, but you are paying for quality
Hedgehog Feeding Guide
When shopping for cat food for your hedgehog, look out for the following ingredients, as these will ensure your pet is getting all of the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and strong and to strengthen its immune system to keep diseases at bay.
- The most important ingredient on the list should be the protein. Protein helps Hedgehogs build muscle and keep their strength up. Check that the meat listed in the cat food is from a specific animal, rather than a generic term like ‘meat’ or ‘fish.’ Look for a specified source like chicken, turkey, or lamb to ensure you’re not feeding your pet highly processed meat by-products or derivatives. The protein level should be at least 30%.
- While you don’t want a food that is too fatty, fat is still an essential part of the hedgehog’s diet as it helps them keep warm. In their natural habitat, hedgehogs would gain weight ahead of their hibernation during the winter months. Depending on the size of your hedgehog, the fat level in cat food should be between 10 and 15% – on the lower side if your hedgehog tends to gain weight, and of course higher if it's recovering from illness.
- Fibers such as fruit and vegetable extracts provide your hedgehog with the necessary nutrients to promote a healthy digestive system. Look for a fiber level of at least 5% in your cat food, but you’ll probably need to increase this by using fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as insects, to get the hedgehog’s overall fiber level to around 15%.
Fat, Protein, and Fiber
Getting the percentage right when it comes to protein, fat, and fiber is vital for your hedgehog. But it’s worth bearing in mind that this will differ depending on the size, and age, of your pet.
Baby hedgehogs need a high-fat content, as do hedgehogs recovering from illness or disease:
- Protein: 27-34%
- Fat: 8-15%
- Fiber: 3-8%
As your hedgehog grows in size or strength, you can up its protein intake slightly, as adult hedgehogs need more protein to build muscle and maintain energy levels:
- Protein: 30-33%
- Fat: 10-13%
- Fiber: 3-8%
How often should I feed my hedgehog?
How often your hedgehog needs feeding largely depends on its size and age. Generally speaking, most hedgehogs are sold when they are between 4-7 months old, and at this age, they’ll require feeding 2-3 times a day.
A mature hedgehog will need about 40 grams of food every day, and from 7 months and above, hedgehogs only need feeling once a day in the evening, as in their natural habitat they are nocturnal creatures.
Mother hedgehogs will need to feed their babies with milk for 4-8 weeks. During the reproductive period, you can feed the mother hedgehog an increased amount of sugar-free cow’s milk. After 2 months, the babies can be fed cat food, too.
Other sources of nutrients
There are a few other foods to include in your hedgehog’s diet to ensure they are receiving the optimal amount of nutrients:
- Worms: worms would be a source of food for a hedgehog in the wild. Worms are rich in fat, salt, vitamins, and micro-nutrients and help stimulate your hedgehog’s appetite. However, too many worms will get your hedgehog fat - though this is good if they are underweight or recovering from a bout of illness.
- Fruit and vegetables: These are a natural source of fiber and vitamins for your hedgehog. Kale, romaine, or leaf lettuces and collard greens are all good options, as well as sweet potatoes, berries, apples, and bananas.
- Fresh milk: Milk is rich in calcium and cow’s milk is a good option for hedgehogs, while goat’s milk can be fed to baby hedgehogs if they cannot access their mother’s milk.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do hedgehogs eat cat food?
Many people choose to feed their hedgehogs cat food because it is protein-rich and more readily available than hedgehog food - and often better quality too, if you choose the right brand. While dog food is also an option, cat food kibble and meat pieces are easier for hedgehogs to eat and digest as they are usually smaller in size.
Are cat biscuits good for hedgehogs?
So long as you select a good quality brand of cat food biscuits, they’re rich in protein and fiber and are small enough for hedgehogs to chew easily.
Can you feed hedgehogs wet food?
You can feed hedgehogs wet or dry food. Dry food may be richer in protein, while wet food generally has a better balance of overall nutrients and is more palatable for pets to eat. It’s all down to what your hog prefers.