What are the best supplementary food for wild hedgehogs?
It’s a myth that hedgehogs solely or mainly eat slugs. Whilst they do occasionally like to get their teeth into a juicy fat slug, they mainly eat insects, including beetles and caterpillars. Hedgehogs are also opportunistic and will eat a wide range of other foods including birds’ eggs and small dead animals like mice.
Too many slugs, snails and earthworms are bad for them as they carry lungworm and roundworm which, in large numbers, can cause hedgehogs to become very poorly and die.
One of the best things you can do to help hedgehogs find their favourite food sources is to grow a wide variety of shrubs and plants to attract insects. Also provide plenty of piles of old logs and other hidey holes for beetles.
Providing extra food and water helps to keep hedgehogs fit and healthy and to put on weight for hibernation. It also stops them resorting to worms and slugs. Supplementary feeding is particularly important in the Spring as hedgehogs are emerging hungry from hibernation and in the Autumn to help them get up to weight for Winter. Leave out a shallow bowl of water year round.
NEVER feed hedgehogs bread and milk. They are lactose intolerant and it can make them very ill.
Also avoid dried mealworms, peanuts and sunflower hearts – they can cause serious bone problems. You can find out more here. There is also a great article here that explains the reasons and busts the myths about some other foods that you can and can’t feed to hedgehogs.
Suitable hedgehog foods include:
- Meaty cat or dog food (including gravy and fish flavours). I go for loaf varieties.
- Cat or kitten biscuits
- Specialist hedgehog food e.g. Spike’s or Ark Wildlife
I run a hedgehog hospital in York, England. You can find out more about my work here and also how to support it.
I also make silver jewellery inspired by nature to raise funds for my rescue work (which is entirely self funded). You can visit my jewellery shop here.
33 thoughts on “What to feed wild hedgehogs”
I did try leaving cat food out for the one we’d seen around here, but the next morning the bowl was positively crawling with slugs. I declared the experiment a failure.
No worries, I know you’re busy caring for hogs in addition to everything else 🙂
OK, I’ll definitely cut back then, perhaps just a treat now and then. I hope the garden is wildlife friendly enough to provide plenty of insects anyway. Kitten food is not viable until we can get a feeding station, cats would definitely have it! Thank you 😀
Hello! So sorry for the delay. They will be eating more wild stuff at this time of year. I tend to adjust according to the activity in the garden and what is getting eaten. I use a hedgehog feeding station so I know it is only hedgehogs that are eating and I only use dried food so it doesn’t go off. I would cut back on mealworms and sunflower hearts as they can cause problems in large quantities. A good quality kitten biscuit is good and less addictive and better for them 🙂
Hi Emma 🙂 How much should I be feeding wild hedgehogs? I’m currently feeding re-hydrated mealworms and sunflower hearts, and we have two visiting hogs, but I’m not sure how much they should have. I assume it’s best if they’re still foraging for themselves for the most part!? But we want them nice and fat for winter hibernation. Maybe this could make an interesting post? Thanks x
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Thank you …… your new hoggie feedbox will be half under a bank at the top end of the garden with two entrances. The badgers may have been visiting for a while but I’ve only recently become aware of their presence due to the fox family’s antics late at night 🙂
Hello – gluten free cat biscuits are fine 🙂 Sometimes badgers and hedgehogs co-exist if there is enough food…..
Hi – I’ve solved the badger problem …… and realised why I may not have seen hoggies … but the cat biscuit query still remains ……. all of my cats have gluten free food. Mealworms, nibs and sunflower hearts aren;t a problem …. just worried about the biscuits and cat food.
Hi …… Will the badgers prove a problem with feeding hogs? I’ve got badgers and foxes but haven’t seen any hoggie signs …… Are gluten free cat biscuits okay for them? (Chicken of course).
Hi Carol, many haven’t hibernated as it has been a relatively mild winter. As long as they are over 600g and aren’t out in the day they should be fine. Suet pellets are okay as a little treat but, with the fat, they can get lodged in their jaws so sunflower hearts, kibbled peanuts, cat biscuits better 🙂
My hedghogs are still feeding.they love the fruit suet pellets. Will they be ok. I worry they have not hibernated yet.
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