Hedgehogs are omnivores. They can eat a wide range of fruits, vegetables, insects & fresh produce. Dry kibbles are the main element of their diet, they must be of good quality & respect your hedgehog’s nutritional needs. They must be small enough for him/her to be able to chew on easily. Since they are predisposed to suffer from obesity, you will have to closely monitor the kibbles protein & fat levels. Dry food made specifically for hedgehogs often lack of certain nutrients, which is why cat food is recommended with the condition that their diet is supplemented with an external source of fiber such as vegetables or insects.
How To Pick The Right Kibbles For Your Hedgehog's Life Stage
There’s 2 important aspects in dry kibbles that will variate accordingly to your hedgehog’s life stage; protein & fat levels. The 3 main factors responsible for this deviation are:
- Age: Young Hedgehogs (under 6 months old) should be fed with kitten food, as they need higher levels of fat in their diet. In order to respect their nutritional standards, the level of fat in their kibbles should be between 15-20% & protein around 30-40%. Mature hedgehogs (over 6 months old) have a tendency to suffer from obesity, which is why I recommend feeding them with adult cat food, where the quantity of fat should be adjusted to 10-15 %.
- Condition: A lactating female will have the same nutritional requirements as baby hedgehogs (under 6 months old) since she transfers the concentration of fat to her youngsters through her milk.
- Level of activity: If your hedgehog is hyperactive, his/her body will demand higher levels of fat. You can verify the quantity of fat needed by weighting him/her weekly. Considering that your hedgehog is at a healthy weight, If he/she is losing mass, then the percentage of fat is too low, or your hedgehog is ill. If he/she is gaining weight, then consider lowering your fat levels. A healthy adult African pygmy male hedgehog should weight between 450 – 600 grams, whereas a female should weight between 250 – 400 grams.
How Should You Proceed When Transitioning Your Hedgehog's Food?
Hedgehogs can be picky eaters. If changes in their diet should be made, even when transitioning from baby to adult food, it should be done gradually. If the process is not done correctly or too quickly, they can stop eating or experience episodes of diarrhea.
The transition should be made as follows:
- 1st week: 75% old food & 25% new food
- 2nd week: 50% old food & 50 % new food
- 3rd week: 25% old food & 75% new food
- 4th week: 100% new food
**Some hedgehogs might need more time to adapt & they will demand more time between each phase change.**