Although traditionally classified in the now abandoned order Insectivora, hedgehogs are not exclusively insectivores but are almost omnivorous. Hedgehogs feed on insects, snails, frogs and toads, snakes, bird eggs, carrion, mushrooms, grass roots, berries, melons, and watermelons. In fact, berries constitute a major part of an Afghan Hedgehog’s diet in early spring after hibernation. The hedgehog is occasionally spotted after a rainstorm foraging for earthworms. Although forest hedgehogs, most well-known to Europeans, are indeed mainly insectivores, this is not necessarily true for other species.
In areas that have hedgehogs in the wild, they are often welcomed as a natural form of garden pest control. Many people leave food out to attract hedgehogs. Although hedgehogs are lactose-intolerant, they will eagerly consume cheese, milk, and dairy products, causing illness. The common pet hedgehog (Four-toed Hedgehog) can however have a small portion of cottage cheese as a dietary supplement. Dog and cat food are better than dairy, but both are often too high in fat and too low in protein. It is best to leave out only a small treat, leaving them plenty of appetite for the pests in one’s garden.