Hedgehogs are naturally insectivorous.
In the wild, they will eagerly expand their diet to include pretty much anything that is edible.
A proper diet should be designed for an insectivorous, which is high in protein and low in fat.
- Insectivore/Hedgehog food
Some companies produce food specifically for insectivores (or even specifically for hedgehogs).
This food is usually high in protein and low in fat.
- Cat food
- Some people believe that hedgehogs should be fed food specifically designed for insectivores. Others believe that cat food that is extremely low in fat is better. Low-fat cat food (usually designed for older cats) is commonly available from any store that sells pet food. The protein to fat ratio in the low-fat cat food is very similar to the protein to fat ratio in insectivore food.
- Hedgehogs will commonly eat meat. As with all hedgehog food, a high protein/low fat meat is preferred. Popular meats are turkey and salmon.
- Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant but, like cats, will eagerly lap up milk and eat cheese. Similar to humans, this causes stomach pains, gas, and diarrhea. A very small amount of dairy products is acceptable as a treat, but it is difficult to know when a little is too much until the hedgehog has eaten too much.
- Live insects are a good way to let your hedgehog revert to the wild and hunt its prey. Ensure that the insects are farm-raised (usually available at a pet store). Insects used for bait or found in the wild often contain pesticides which can be harmful (and fatal) to the hedgehog.
- Meal worms are a popular treat for hedgehogs, but should be limited as a treat. They are high in fat.
- Many hedgehog owners have supplemented their hedgehog's diet with fruit. There is some concern that grapes (and raisins) may cause illness in hedgehogs. Melons have been noted as a popular treat. Keep in mind that fruit is high in sugar. After eating a lot of sugar, the hedgehog will need to burn off the extra energy.
Hedgehogs drink a lot of water.
Some will use a water bottle commonly used for hamsters or gerbils.
Others prefer to drink from a water dish.
If your hedgehog is resistant to drinking, try placing an ice cube in the water (or on top of the water bottle).
Many hedgehogs are attracted to the ice cube and learn that they can drink from the water near it.
Once the hedgehog drinks properly, you can omit the ice cube.
Regardless of which form of water receptacle you choose, your hedgehog will require fresh water each day.
You may also want to use filtered water.
Hedgehogs have a strong sense of smell and may be turned off by strange odors in their water.