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What the Hedgehog eats.

In the wild

foodchrt.jpg (32404 bytes)

Hedgehogs, as can be seen from the chart above, are carnivores. Gardeners like to have hedgehogs about the garden to help keep the slug and snail population down. However, the main food source for the hedgehog is beetles and caterpillars. They do sometimes kill small mammals, especially if other food sources are scarce and can attack the chicks of ground nesting birds. This last fact, makes the hedgehog a menace amongst colonies of some seabirds.

The question of whether hedgehogs are at risk from eating slugs which have died after consuming slug pellets is much debated. Since the poisons in the dead slug can rapidly decompose to form a harmless residue, generally the biggest danger to hedgehogs is if they eat the actual pellets themselves. Therefore it is always advisable that if you have to use slug pellets, place them under slightly raised slabs where slugs will hide from the sun during the day. This will also mean that hedgehogs will not be able to get to them. But, in general, it is better not to use slug control pellets at all.

What to feed them on.

You can put out food for a hedgehog. Do not put out bread and milk, however. Although the hedgehog will enjoy it, the swelling of bread in the stomach and the fact that cows milk gives hedgehogs diarrhoea, means that it is not the best thing to give a hungry hedgehog. The best thing to put out for your garden hedgehog is cat or dog food. Perhaps also mix in some of the cat / dog biscuits to help the hedgehog's teeth. I've found that cat food based around beef is usually accepted, although they didn't like fish or rabbit flavours!

Please remember though, that putting out food during the night can attract cats, so you may need to construct a hedgehog enclosure to place the food safely away from feline mouths. You can put your food under a concrete slab supported by 4 bricks laying on their long sides. This will mean the cats cannot reach the food, but the lower hedgehogs can easily slip underneath for a feed.

One further thing, if you suffer from mice or rats in your area, putting food outside is not a good idea fullstop.

Please remember that hedgehogs need water too! Especially in the summer when warm nights mean that moisture evaporates quickly. I recently noticed one hedgehog in my garden slurping around the end of the hosepipe spreyhead. Needless to say, it appreciated a drink of water from a proper bowl! There's a picture of this chap on the gallery page.

Written by SteveC