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What Do Baby Hedgehogs Eat? [The Complete Feeding Guide]

There may be several different circumstances where you may need to feed a baby hedgehog. You could be an owner, a breeder, or attempting to support one that has been abandoned. But what do they eat? What are the best foods at this stage of their life? Here is what you should know.

So, what do baby hedgehogs eat? Like most mammals, baby hedgehogs start out in life by drinking their mother’s milk exclusively. A milk substitute, such as puppy replacement or goat’s milk, can be given instead if mothers’ milk is not available. By 3-4 weeks of age, a baby hedgehog will start to transition over to meat-based solid foods.

Age and weight will dictate how much and how often a baby hedgehog needs to eat.

And they have very sensitive digestive systems.

These are just some of the reasons why rearing a baby hedgehog is a particularly challenging thing to do.

They are very vulnerable at this age, after all.

Regular feeding, warmth, and toileting are all essential aspects of care that simply need to be done right.

But thankfully, it is possible for a human to cover these needs with the right approach.

When it comes to feeding, it’s as much about what you do not feed as it is what you do.

It does not need to be complicated either, but it certainly needs to be thought through.

We’re here to help.

Let us now take a closer look at all that is involved from a dietary perspective – particularly if you are undertaking this responsibility on the mother’s behalf!

The Diet Of A Baby Hedgehog

The diet of a baby hedgehog primarily depends on their age and weight. Milk, preferably mothers’ milk, is the ideal food source when they are very young. 

But of course, mothers’ milk is not always available.

And there are substitutes that can be offered.

That being said, the type of milk a hoglet (baby hedgehog) consumes is essential.

Not all milk is created equal.

They are designed for different animals, after all.

As such, cow’s milk is one that should never bed fed.

It can result in severe digestive upset and diarrhea – and can even result in death through dehydration!

Not good.

So, before we proceed, let us quickly overview the types of milk baby hedgehogs can and cannot consume:

Safe MilksUnsafe Milks
Mothers MilkCows Milk
Esbilac (Puppy Milk Replacement)Nut Milk (Almond, Oat, Soy, etc)*
Goats Milk (Fresh/Powder

*These milks are not really ‘unsafe’, just not beneficial.

They do not support the needs of a baby hedgehog.

They severely lack several vitamins, minerals, and proteins that these spiky mammals require.

Nevertheless, hoglets will not consume milk forever.

And they do need to transition over to solid foods.

And this generally happens when they are around 3-4 weeks of age.

In the wild, they will start consuming small insects.

But in captivity, or if you are providing for them, you can start to offer a small amount of wet cat food.

Tinned dog food also works, so long as you avoid fish-based options.

And as they reach seven weeks of age, you can even introduce crushed-up cat or dog biscuits too.

Specialist hedgehog foods are also now available on the market and also can be a great source of nutrition.

Of course, the size and age of the hoglet will influence exactly what they need to eat and when (as we will soon see in the section below).

Nevertheless, a hedgehog should grow to between 550-680 grams to be at a healthy weight.

How Much Do Baby Hedgehogs Need To Eat?

Baby hedgehogs need to small amounts and often. Initially and in the first 3-4 weeks of life, they will or should feed exclusively on milk before transitioning into larger servings and onto solid meat-based foods.

Below, you can see a general guide on how much a baby hedgehog should be eating by age and weight.

AgeHedgehog Weight (Grams)Feeding AmountFood Type
Birth – 3 Days Old15-25 g1-2 mls1. Mothers Milk/
2. Kitten or Puppy Milk substitutes/
3. Goat Milk
3 Days – 1 Week25-301-2 mls1. Mothers Milk/
2. Kitten or Puppy Milk substitutes/
3. Goat Milk
1-2 Weeks30-85 g2-3 mls1. Mothers Milk/
2. Kitten or Puppy Milk substitutes/
3. Goat Milk
2-3 Weeks85-110 g3-5 mls1. Mothers Milk/
2. Kitten or Puppy Milk substitutes/
3. Goat Milk
3-4 Weeks110-170 g5-6mls
Leave a small, shallow dish of solid feed to encourage baby to lap
1. Mothers Milk/
2. Kitten or Puppy Milk substitutes/
3. Goat Milk/
4. Canned Cat Food/
5. Canned Dog Food
5-6 Weeks200-260 gPhase out hand feeding and provide a small dish of milk (5ml) and liquid food mixed together1. Kitten or Puppy Milk substitutes/
2. Goat Milk/
3. Canned Cat Food/
4. Canned Dog Food
6-7 Weeks300-500 gAs much as they need.
Hoglets at this age will stop feeding during the day and start to only eat at night.
Mashed
meat and milk substitute.
At 6-7 weeks the milk substitute can be stopped.

As you can see, there is a clear progression in the diet of a baby hedgehog.

Foods should be introduced slowly, and hand-feeding slowly withdrawn until they begin to obtain the food they need themselves.

It’s also essential that a baby hedgehog is weighed routinely in the early weeks of life.

They need to be putting on weight, and if they are not, the amount of food they consume may need to be adjusted – or they’ll need to eat more often.

Seeking expert advice is also strongly advised throughout and during this process.

Hedgehog rescue centers, or veterinarians with knowledge of these animals, are good starting points.

How Often Do Baby Hedgehogs Need To Eat?

The younger the hedgehog, the more frequently they should be feeding. As they age and get bigger, hedgehogs can go longer without food until they will only eat once, per night.

AgeHedgehog Weight (Grams)Feeding Frequency
Birth – 3 Days Old15-25 gEvery 2 Hours, or On Demand
3 Days – 1 Week25-30Every 3 Hours
1-2 Weeks30-85 gEvery 3 Hours
2-3 Weeks85-110 gEvery 3 Hours
3-4 Weeks110-170 gEvery 3-4 Hours
5-6 Weeks200-260 gSelf Feeding
6-7 Weeks300-500 gSelf Feeding

On-demand feeding, as it is known, is essential in the early weeks of life.

This literally means when the hedgehogs need to or signal it’s time for a feed, they should be fed.

But they’ll only drink a small amount of milk, as we have seen in the section above.

In time, and as their digestive system develops and adapts, they can handle a higher frequency of food and go longer between meals.

How Do Baby Hedgehogs Eat

How a hedgehog will eat depends primarily on whether they are obtaining milk from their mother, or this is being replicated by a human.

For wild hedgehogs and those with access to their mothers, they will actually be very well taken care of.

The mother hedgehog will begin by massaging her hoglets and getting their digestive systems prepared for feeding.

She will then feed and nurse her babies, keeping them sufficiently warm, comfortable, and safe throughout the process.

When the hoglets need to eat, they’ll make it known to their mothers.

If you are looking to feed a baby hedgehog, then of course, it will be a little different!

You would also need a few items to do so effectively:

  • The right type of milk (as referenced above)
  • A feeding syringe (1ml, 5ml, or 10ml in size)
  • A food warmer to keep the milk at the right temperature,
  • Puppy pee pads,
  • A sterilizer to clean the feeding apparatus after using

Depending on what your offering, be it puppy replacement or goat milk, you will likely need to prepare it first.

They need to be mixed well, according to the manufacturer’s instructions and heated up.

A mother will provide her milk at body temperature, so you should replicate this by serving any formula at 35°C / 95°F – never cold!

Always check it is not too cold or hot prior to feeding.

From there, you will need to replicate the massaging of the mother.

Place the baby on a warm towel on your lap.

Then, wrap a puppy pee pad around the baby hedgehog’s bottom and gently massage their belly down to their tails. Do so carefully.

Do not feed the hedgehog on its back, as this can lead to drowning!

With a syringe in one hand, hoglet in the other, place the tip of the syringe under the lip of the hedgehog and carefully squeeze out a drop.

Some babies will show a strong desire to consume the milk; others will take time to understand they are being fed.

Feed slowly, small amounts at a time.

After a few weeks, a hoglet will start to take to this feeding regimen.

In the youngest hoglets, you may even be able to see the feed in their stomachs. But at this age, they will also need to be toileted (gentle tickling around the genital area to make them go).

Here are some other things to consider:

  • Once a hoglet reaches 2 weeks of age, they will be able to open their eyes and begin to see their food.
  • At around three and half weeks of age, hoglets no longer need to be toileted, and they can begin feeding themselves.
  • At 4 weeks, a small dish of water can also be provided for drinking.
  • At 5-6 weeks, you can provide a shallow dish of mashed up food (wet cat or dog food); they will begin to eat this freely.
  • At 6-7 weeks, any milk substitute can be stopped.

Finally

Baby hedgehogs need milk.

Their mother’s milk, or a suitable substitute. One that is certainly lactose-free.

Milk should be the only thing that a baby hedgehog consumes in the first week of life.

And they’ll not be able to drink much of it, to begin with.

We are talking 1-2 ml at a time!

And they need to be fed often.

This amount of food will not keep them sustained for long.

In time, baby hedgehogs will consume larger quantities, go longer between feeding, and even eat solid foods.

Whether that is insects and other meat-based foods, or cat, dog, or hedgehog food – well, that’s going to come down to circumstance!