What to Feed Hedgehogs

  • Easy to do
  • Can help hedgehogs
  • Can be cheap or expensive to do

Hedgehogs are one of the UKs favourite garden wildlife visitors. With their sweet button noses and small size they cause no trouble to the gardener and only cause excited dogs and nervous cats a little concern … except Lady one of our ducks who decided to tell one off with a nip and received a spine prickle in the top of her bill to warn her off … now she just hisses at them and sounds off a warning to the others about the spiny visitor.

Why Feed Hedgehogs?

Sadly one of our most beloved native animals is seeing it’s number tumble with alarming speed. Around half of the rural population has already been lost and one third of the urban population of hedgehogs gone. The good news is the urban population loss now seems to be slowing so we need to keep up the good work to help our spiny friends.

What do Hedgehogs Eat?

You might be fortunate and spot hedgehogs in your garden between dusk and dawn, this is when healthy hedgehogs are around and seeking out food. They have a mostly insectivorous diet which consists mainly of invertebrates especially beetles, caterpillars and earthworms. They don’t eat quite as many slugs as we previously thought but they will eat slugs as well.

What to Feed Hedgehogs?

There are lots of articles every year about what to feed hedgehogs and many are confusing, giving conflicting advice, some of which we now know is not good for hedgehogs. They need a wide variety of natural food for good health, we humans only really provide supplementary foods or treats. The very best way you can help the hedgehog by gardening in a wildlife friendly way, i.e. not using pesticides and encouraging the mini beasts they live on in your garden. You can also provide supplementary food such as:

  • Shop bought foods especially formulated for hedgehogs like the Spikes Dinner range
  • Tinned cat or dog food – in jelly or solid, not those in gravy
  • Dry cat or kitten biscuits
  • Always provide clean fresh water with any food you feed to wildlife.

If you usually feed dog or cat meat offer dry biscuits in very hot or very cold weather. The meat can go off quickly in hot weather and freeze in cold.

What foods are Bad for Hedgehogs?

There are sometimes other foods suggested like sunflower hearts and mealworms, these foods can cause nutritional and dental problems, in the case of mealworms they can not only lose calcium causing bone issues but also become addicted to mealworms causing obesity as well. Never feed hedgehogs milk and/or bread, both of these are very bad for their digestion and gives them no nutritional value just a full and grumbling stomach.

How do I Ensure Only Hedgehogs are Eating the Food?

This is a difficult one, if you put food out something out there will eat it. If you want to avoid rats, foxes and local cats coming in and eating the hedgehog food you can either sit and wait for the hedgehogs to come and finish their meal and then take it in or you can leave the food out at dusk and bring it back in before your bedtime. The hedgehogs will learn your routine. You could even build a small feeding box with a 4 inch hole for the hedgehogs to get in and out at one end very easily to prevent the larger mammals getting to the food, it won’t stop the rats and mice though!

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