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Hedgehog Treats | Insects a La Carte

Hedgehog Treats

Purpose of Treats

  • Providing treats to your pet hedgehog is both beneficial to you and your pet. 
  • We enjoy offering the treats and watching our pets benefit from our efforts.
  • Variety
    • One of the primary reasons for feeding treats to your pet is to provide a variety in their diet.
    • The Hedgehog Diet Overview describes why variety is beneficial to your hedgehog.  Different tastes and textures of foods provide enrichment as well as a source of nutrients that may be missing from its staple diet.
  •  Environmental Enrichment
    • “Hiding” or scattering dry food treats encourages the hedgehog to forage as it would in its natural environment.  Dry treats are preferred over moist treats that could spoil if undiscovered when hiding or scattering food.
    • Stimulating hedgehog activity encourages exercise, which is beneficial to your hedgehog’s overall health.
  • Bonding
    • The giver of treats is always more welcome than empty hand.
    • A happy hedgehog is more social and will look forward to handling and interaction.
  • Refer to the selection below on the advantages of dropper feeding your hedgehog treats.

Treat Guidelines

  • We suggest waiting to give your hedgehogs treats until they are settled into their new home and eating on a regular schedule. 
  • Freeze-dried insects or live insects are good starter treats for your hedgehog.  Freeze insects can be started right away but allowing a hedgehog adjust to its new environment will help prepare it for the hunting of live food.
  • By eight to ten weeks of age your hedgie should be ready for soft or moist treats.
  • Some hedgehogs love treats but other hedgies will prefer to stick to only their dry food.  You may try some treats several times before your hedgehog decides to give it a try. 
  • It is important to only introduce one new food or treat at a time.  Should your hedgehog develop an upset stomach you will know which food or treat is to blame.
  • Daily nutritious treats in small quantities are acceptable but don’t spoil your hedgie so that it is too full for its staple food.
  • Once you find a food your hedgie likes, don’t over feed it.  That way your hedgehog will continue to enjoy it as a treat rather than expect it as a standard part of the diet.
  • Make sure you remove any uneaten portion of moist or fresh foods after four hours to prevent spoilage or contamination.
  • Some hedgehog owners keep a journal of treats they tried and the hedgehog’s response.
  • BEWARE – treats will change your hedgehog’s stool.  Some treats may cause diarrhea, green poops, or extremely stinky poop.

Suggested Treats

  • Treats that provide nutrition are always more beneficial than food items that seem to be little more than empty calories.
  • Insects
    • Insectivores by nature, hedgehogs typically love insects.  It is a good idea to include insects as part of your hedgehog’s balanced diet.
    • The most popular insects of hedgehogs and hedgehog owners are mealworms, wax worms, silk worms and crickets.
    • Treats can include live, canned or freeze dried crickets, mealworms (only one or two per day), wax worms or other insects. 
    • We prefer to use pet-quality, farm raised insects to wild caught insects because of the risk of parasite infection, insecticide exposure or other toxins in wild caught bugs.
    • Even though hedgehogs are insectivores, a captive hedgehog diet of insects would not be nutritionally complete.
    • When purchasing insects one needs to find out if they have been recently fed or “gut loaded”.   Insects that haven’t been fed are mainly empty shells that are imbalanced in calcium and phosphorus. (Graffam)
    • Please refer to our Insects A La Carte guide for more information on this subject.
  • Meats
    • Most meats fine as long as they are grilled, broiled, baked, boiled, or even cooked in the microwave.  Do NOT feed raw meats or processed meats.
    • Meats should be cooked with oil or butter and should not be seasoned.
    • It is never a good idea to feed raw meats because of the risk of salmonella or other bacterial or parasitic infections.
    • Meats should be cooked until tender and cut into small pieces.
    • Some hedgie meat favorites are: grilled salmon, chicken, and turkey.
    • Beef and pork are acceptable but should be fed in moderation.  These meats are less easily digested and contain lower calcium and higher phosphorus levels than other alternatives.
    • Meats are not suitable as a main portion of the hedgehog’s diet.  Unsupplemented meats do not provide adequate calcium, balanced minerals, tooth abrasion, and adequate vitamins.  (Graffam).
  • Eggs, Tofu, and Rice
    • Scrambled or hard-boiled eggs are a popular favorite with most hedgehogs.  The best way to scramble eggs is in the microwave with no added oils or seasonings. 
    • Make sure the eggs are not too hot when you give them to your hedgie.
    • One hedgehog owner told us that her hedgie enjoyed ONLY fresh breakfast scrambled eggs rather than leftovers later in the day
  • Fruits and Vegetables
    • Hedgehogs do not breakdown cellulose in plant and vegetable matter as well as other animals.  Fruits are softer and typically easier to digest than vegetables.
    • All vegetables should be diced into small pieces and most should be cooked in the microwave, boiled, or steamed so they are soft.
    • Hard vegetable such as carrots and sweet potatoes should be cooked to prevent choking hazards.
    • Corn and peas contain excess phosphorus, which decreases the calcium absorption and should only be fed in small amounts.

Popular Fruits

Blue berries

Popular Vegetables

Bell Peppers
Carrots (cooked)
Corn – small amounts
Green Beans
Sweet Potato (cooked)
  • Baby Foods
    • Many people enjoy giving their hedgies baby food as treats.
    • Baby foods are easy too store and relatively inexpensive.
    • Gerber Stage 2 Baby Foods Meat in Gravy is a favorite treat.  This stage has only meat, water, and corn starch
    • Baby food fruits and vegetables, chicken and applesauce, and meat sticks are also popular.
    • Higher stage foods may have added sugar, onion powder, salt, and other ingredients that should be avoided.
  • Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, and Other Dairy
    • Hedgehogs are thought to be somewhat lactose intolerant to milk but yogurt and cottage cheese seem to be easier for hedgehogs to digest.
    • The yogurt and cottage cheese provide extra calcium to your hedgies diet and the yogurt provides beneficial bacteria as well.
    • In one of her posts on Chins-n-Quills, Steph Hyne said she gives her hedgehogs Low Fat Plain Organic Yogurt or Low Fat Cottage Cheese to all of her hedgehogs.
  • Non-human foods as treats
    • Canned or moist cat foods are easily accessible and relatively cheap to try.
    • Ferret treats are another option if you have them available.

Treats to Avoid

  • Sweet foods containing refined or processed sugars are not a good source of treats for your pet.  We suggest that you completely avoid chocolate because it can be toxic for hedgehogs and other animals.
  • Fried foods are not a good idea because the grease can upset the hedgehog’s stomach and the excess calories are not good for hedgehogs on the heavy side. 
  • Hedgehogs are somewhat lactose intolerant so milk should be avoided.   Dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese can be given in small amounts but they can cause intestinal upset and diarrhea.
  • Hard foods such as peanuts, almonds, and raw carrots are choking hazards.  One of our customers had an emergency trip to the veterinarian one night because their hedgehog had an almond lodged in its throat!
  • Sticky foods such as raisins or other dried fruit are not a good idea because they can stick to the roof of the hedgehog’s mouth or to its teeth causing discomfort and tooth decay.
  • Fibrous or stringy foods such as celery are hard to chew and digest.
  • Raw eggs or meat should be completely avoided because of the risk of Salmonella.
  • Spicy and foods such as onions and garlic may be upsetting to your hedgehog’s stomach.
  • Controversial foods in the pet industry include grapes (with seeds) and avocados.
  • Salty foods such as many canned meats and vegetables can not only upset your hedgehogs stomach but it can cause electrolyte imbalances as well

Quick Reference List of Foods to Avoid

Avocado - controversial
Eggs – raw
Fried foods
Fried Foods
Grapes - controversial
Meat - canned
Meat – processed (hot dogs)
Meat – raw
Outdoor insects
Raisins and other dried fruit

Feeding Tools

  • Hedgehogs that are hand fed or allowed to lick may take the next natural step and bite. 
  • Biting the hand that feeds it is only natural when the animal is looking for more food.
  • Your hedgehog is not as tempted to bite your hand if it associates food and treats with an inanimate object.

Small Crocks or Plates

    • The purpose of using small crocks or plates is to keep the treats separate from the bedding and to allow the hedgehog to find it easier.
    • Small 3” ceramic crocks are great for soft or moist foods

Feeding Tongs

    • It is common practice for herpetologists or reptile hobbyists to feed their reptiles using feeding tongs.  Using tongs helps prevent food related biting incidents.
    • Feeding tongs prevents strike bites in reptiles but they can prevent chops in other animal species as well. 
    • The animal learns to associate the food with the tongs instead of the hand.   They also help keep food smell off your hands so there is less of a lingering temptation to bite following feeding.
    • We believe biting prevention and training is far easier and beneficial to your pet than trying to correct a problem or being frustrated with your pet for doing what comes natural.

Dropper or Syringe Feeding

    • In one of her posts on Chins-n-Quills, Steph Hyne said she gives all of her hedgehogs yogurt or baby food from a children’s medicine dropper every week.
    • This proactive approach to feeding is beneficial to both the bonding process of little hedgies as well as an easy way to train your hedgehog to accept hand feeding should the need arise as it gets older.
    • Sick or ailing hedgehogs may have to be dropper fed their food or medication through some type of syringe or medicine dropper.
    • Hedgehogs that are accustomed to accepting treats through a syringe will not put up a fight when they need supplements or medications later on in their life.

Please refer to our Resource List for References