Best Hedgehog Food

Updated April 2021
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

32 Models Considered
12 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Updated April 2021
Written by Michelle Ullman Authors 's image

Buying guide for best hedgehog food

They may not be the most familiar of pets, but that’s likely to change as hedgehogs become more popular. Over the past decade, more and more Americans have chosen to add one of these spiky yet adorable creatures to their family rather than the more common cat, dog, or rodent. Still, most people aren’t too familiar with the needs of a pet hedgehog, including its care, housing, and food.

If you’re considering adding a hedgehog to your family, it’s definitely a good idea to learn as much as you can about these small, somewhat shy animals before bringing one home. After all, your hedgehog will be with you for three to six years, on average. And while it isn’t the most care-intensive of pets, your hedgie does require the right food, fresh water, and a clean cage in which to survive and thrive.

Our buying guide includes the basics of feeding and keeping a pet hedgehog, and our recommendations offer a selection of products to get you started.

hedgehog food1
Hedgehogs are adorable, but they can be shy. You’ll know when your hedgehog wants to be left alone because it rolls itself into a spiky ball or hides.

Key considerations

Hedgehog 101

There are 17 different species of hedgehog native to Europe, Asia, and Africa, but by far the most common type of hedgehog raised as a pet in North America is the African pygmy hedgehog, also called the four-toed hedgehog. These cuties are typically between 5 and 8 inches in length when fully grown and weigh less than a pound. Hedgehogs are odor-free and fairly quiet, although they do make a variety of sounds, including hisses, growls, squeaks, purrs, and grunts.

Color: African dwarf hedgehogs can be quite a few different colors, but the most common is salt-and-pepper, with a light belly and quills that are white with black bands. Cinnamon is similar, but with pale brown bands on the quills instead of black, while chocolate hedgehogs have darker brown bands. There are many other possibilities, including all white.

Activity: Like all hedgehogs, the African pygmy hedgehog is nocturnal, meaning your quilled friend will be waking up to start its day right around the time you’re getting ready for bed. And don’t let that small size fool you: hedgehogs are very active creatures! In the wild, a hedgehog easily covers several miles each night in search of insects and other food. Unless you provide plenty of exercise opportunities, typically in the form of an exercise wheel, for your pet, it’s likely to lose energy, gain excessive weight, and even become sick.

Yes, you can handle your hedgehog, but always approach it slowly and offer your hand gently so it will feel relaxed. Hedgehogs do learn to recognize their owners, so be patient, don’t do anything to startle your pet, and handle it frequently so it learns that you are a friend, not a foe.

Hedgehogs and porcupines

Since both hedgehogs and porcupines have quills, you might assume they’re related, but they’re in entirely different families. Porcupines are rodents, while hedgehogs belong to the family Erinaceidae.

Quills: Porcupines have long quills that easily detach (it’s a myth that porcupines can “shoot” their quills, however), while hedgehog quills remain in place other than occasional shedding.

The quills of a porcupine can be anywhere from 2 inches to 1 foot in length, depending on the species, while hedgehog quills are usually around 1 inch in length.

Hedgehog quills are spiky and sharp enough to hurt your hand if you don’t take care when handling your pet. Luckily, as long as your hedgehog feels calm and secure, it will keep its quills down flat, allowing you to hold and stroke it without injury. Watch out if it starts to feel nervous or threatened, however; its quills will stand straight up and it will likely roll into a little ball to protect its soft belly, turning your hedgie into a ball of spikes.

A hedgehog’s spikes are properly called quills. Unlike porcupines, hedgehog quills do not easily detach from the skin.

STAFF
BestReviews

Hedgehog food

In the wild, hedgehogs mostly eat invertebrates, including insects, worms, millipedes, slugs, and caterpillars. If given the opportunity, they’ll also eat baby birds, frogs, eggs, baby rodents, and fallen fruit.

However, most hedgehog owners prefer to feed a commercial hedgehog food, since it’s much easier than trying to replicate the diet in the wild. As a general rule, a good commercial hedgehog food contains no less than 30% protein and no more than 20% fat, along with added vitamins and minerals. Most commercial hedgehog food derives its protein from a blend of insects and meat, including seafood.

Along with 1 to 2 tablespoons per day of hedgehog kibble, you should offer your hedgie a teaspoonful or so of any of the following a few days per week:

  • Live crickets, mealworms, or silkworms
  • Bits of plain cooked meat with no seasonings or salt (no processed meats)
  • Raw or cooked vegetables and fresh fruit (no citrus)
  • Unsweetened “stage 1” pureed baby food (no grains)
  • Hard-boiled or scrambled eggs (plain: no salt or butter)
  • High-protein, low-fat canned cat food or cat kibble (formulated for adult cats, not kittens)

Because hedgehogs are prone to obesity, it’s important that you not overfeed your spiky friend. Offer food in the evening, because hedgehogs eat during the night, and remove any uneaten food in the morning to avoid spoilage.

Water: Your hedgehog should always have access to clean water. This can be offered in a small bowl, but most hedgehogs learn to drink water from a pet bottle attached to the side of their cage.

hedgehog food2
DID YOU KNOW?
A well-balanced hedgehog diet is high in protein, low in fat, and supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables.
STAFF
BestReviews

Tips

You want your hedgehog to have the healthiest, happiest life possible, so you’ll need to provide it with appropriate care and housing.

  • Provide adequate heat. Hedgehogs generally do best at around 75°F to 80°F. Keep the cage away from drafts, heat sources, and intense sunlight, but do position it near a window so your pet can experience regular cycles of day and night. If your home tends to be cool, an infrared ceramic heat lamp designed for use in animal cages will provide warmth without light that could confuse your pet’s circadian rhythms.
  • Provide a large enough cage. Hedgehogs are quite active during their nighttime waking hours, so they require a cage with plenty of room to roam. The absolute minimum is 4 square feet, but your hedgie will be happier with 8 square feet or larger. Rabbit or guinea pig cages generally work well. The spacing of the bars should be no more than 1 inch to prevent your hedgehog from escaping or getting its head stuck between the wires. The bottom of the cage should be a solid plastic tray, not open wire, which can trap the hedgehog’s feet.
  • Provide lots of bedding. Line the bottom of the cage with shredded paper, paper pellets, or pine or aspen shavings, not cedar. Add enough bedding for your hedgie to burrow underneath, and change it at least once per week. Some people prefer to use fleece fabric as a cage liner, but keep in mind this needs to be changed daily.
  • Provide a litter box. Hedgehogs can learn to use a litterbox. Offer a small, shallow box with sides no higher than 2 inches and fill it with a non-clumping cat litter. Be patient. It might take your hedgie some time to catch on, but most hedgehogs eventually do.
  • Provide enclosed ramps. If you decide to add a ramp or upper level to the cage, it should be fully enclosed to prevent your hedgehog from falling. While hedgehogs are good at climbing up, they aren’t nearly as skilled at getting back down again.
  • Provide exercise. Because hedgehogs are very active at night, the cage should have a suitable exercise wheel that’s large enough for your pet to fit in comfortably. A 10-inch to 12-inch wheel is best, and the wheel should be made of solid plastic, not metal wire, which can trap your pet’s legs as it runs.
  • Provide hiding places. Your pet will appreciate a hiding spot in its cage, which can take the form of a wooden house, fabric igloo, box, or tunnel.
  • Provide fresh food and water. A water bowl or bottle is a must, as is a food dish. Choose a small, shallow food dish that’s easy to wash daily.
  • Provide toys. Hedgehogs enjoy toys, so provide your pet with a few options. Balls, tunnels, small bridges, and even the cardboard insert from a toilet paper roll are all popular choices.

In the wild, hedgehogs mostly eat insects and similar creepy-crawlies, including beetles, slugs, and caterpillars.

STAFF
BestReviews

Hedgehog food prices

Hedgehog food isn’t too expensive, so you can afford to feed your spiny friend a well-balanced diet that keeps it in tip-top condition.

As a general rule, you can expect to pay between $10 and $20 for a 1- to 2-pound bag of hedgehog kibble or pellets. For that price, you can expect a quality product that contains ample amounts of insect, meat, and seafood protein, along with fats and vitamins, to meet the nutritional needs of your hedgehog. Because hedgehogs typically consume only 1 to 2 tablespoons of kibble per day, the bag should last a long time. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll also need to offer your hedgie daily supplements of a teaspoonful or so of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as insects such as mealworms or crickets.

hedgehog food3
Hedgehogs easily become overweight, so keep an eye on your spiky friend’s daily intake of food.

FAQ

Q. Is it legal to own a pet hedgehog?

A. In most of the United States, it’s perfectly legal to own a pet hedgehog. However, pet hedgies are illegal in California, Hawaii, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and New York City, so if you live in one of those places, you’ll have to be content with admiring photos and videos of cute hedgehogs online, not in person.

Q. Should I get my hedgehog a friend?

A. You might worry that your single hedgehog is lonely, but rest assured, it is better off alone. In the wild, hedgehogs are solitary creatures that only get together to mate. Males in particular are prone to fighting if kept caged together, sometimes with fatal results. Your hedgie can be perfectly content living solo.

Q. Why does my hedgehog rub himself with saliva?

A. One of the admittedly not so cute hedgehog behaviors that baffles many new owners is self-anointing. Your hedgehog will be going about its usual business when it suddenly stops, works up a mouthful of frothy saliva, and then uses its tongue to spread the foam all over its quills, generally contorting and twisting wildly while doing so. While it looks like a seizure, this is actually normal hedgehog behavior. Although no one is certain why hedgies self-anoint, it tends to happen most often when they encounter a new scent, and it may be a protective behavior.

 

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey

Our Top Picks