Hedgehogs are mostly known as wild animals, but are also often considered as pets, and make for very good pets. These animals are very self-sufficient, making them highly low maintenance, and are also quite friendly creatures, making them ideal for small households with small children. It is, of course, better to have a garden if you plan on keeping hedgehogs, and these animals certainly make having a garden much easier, since they go for all the common garden pests. However, all said and done, hedgehogs are still less popular as house pets than say cats and dogs, which is why you might need more help when it comes to taking good care of them. The commonest question that comes to mind is what to feed them. So, to know what hedgehogs eat, read on.
Hedgehogs are carnivorous, but that does not mean that they can usually eat the kind of food other carnivores go for- that is, animal meat, although sometimes they will take advantage of roadkill. Hedgehogs are mostly dependent on insects and the such like for their survival, which makes them very well suited in environments that have a lot of plants. If you have a garden, set the hedgehog free in it; it will be well fed and your plants will be free of pests. They will go mostly for invertebrates such as caterpillars. Hedgehogs eat a wide variety of insects; but, if you are raising one right from the moment it was born, you might need to train it a bit to stay away from the poisonous kinds.
There is a schedule to the insects that hedgehogs eat around the year, and it runs approximately like this:
- April: Caterpillars and leatherjackets
- May: Coleoptera, caterpillars and leatherjackets
- June: Coleoptera, caterpillars and leatherjackets
- July: Carabids
- August: Earthworms, scarabs, and earwigs
- September: Caterpillars, leatherjackets, slugs, and millipedes
Other kinds of meat
However, that is not all. Although invertebrates form the majority of the diet of the hedgehog, they will also go for a wide range of other insects, although spiders are usually not their food of choice. Apart from this, they also feed on carrion, and will also sometimes hunt down a frog or a small bird. They are also known to eat baby birds and fallen birds’ eggs, and small rodents.
You can also feed a pet hedgehog a variety of hedgehog food supplements available at pet stores. Alternatively, if you are a new parent to a hedgehog and have not had the time to visit the pet store yet, simply put out some wet meat-based cat or dog food. This is especially important in the colder months, when beetles, caterpillars, and earwigs will become scarcer in the garden. Hedgehogs are even at home with the cat or dog biscuits. Don’t forget the water dish, and always put all food and drinks in a shallow bowl.
Having a hedgehog at home is not difficult, especially since it gets most of its food by itself. However, if the hedgehog is not living in the house but in the garden and you feel like putting food out for it, feel free to keep some meat based dog or cat food out, or even some mealworms if you can get them. If you have a recuperating hedgehog at home you plan to release in the wild once it gets better, do not worry about getting it used to your diet; the hedgehog is highly adaptive and will get back to its natural habits soon.