Wild hedgehogs in garden
Helping hedgehogs

Why mealworms are bad for hedgehogs

Like many people, I used to feed dried mealworms to my visiting garden hedgehogs. I used to feed them in moderation but I had no idea quite how bad they were for the health of my spiky friends.

I knew that mealworms were to hedgehogs what sweets are to children. If given the choice, they would live on nothing but this junk food. They are highly addictive and hedgehogs will soon choose to consume nothing else.

What I didn’t know though was that mealworms, and also foods like peanuts and sunflower hearts, actively strip bones of calcium. This is the likely cause of increasing numbers of hedgehogs coming into hedgehog rescues with metabolic bone disease, including Benjamin who was cared for here last year.

Wild hedgehogs in garden
Feed hedgehogs any brand of cat or kitten biscuit

Please read the article to find out the full reasons why you shouldn’t feed these foods and to find out what foods are definitely suitable for hedgehogs. There is also an excellent video here with more information about metabolic bone disease. A good quality kitten or cat biscuit, water and some meaty cat or dog food is all you need to keep your prickly visitors healthy.

Hedgehog feeding station
Cat or kitten biscuits are great for wild hedgehogs

There are lots of myths surrounding feeding cat and dog food. They can eat any flavour, including fish and gravy. In my experience they just tend to prefer the chicken or beef flavours but there is absolutely no reason why you can’t feed them other flavours and gravy varieties. If you want to read more about these myths, here is a great article by a leading wildlife hospital..

Hedgehog drinking from water bowl
Water is the most important thing to provide but supplementary food also helps

You can also help by making your garden insect friendly to ensure there are plenty of beetles and caterpillars – their favourite natural foods. There is plenty of calcium in the exoskeletons of beetles.

I run a hedgehog rescue in York, England. You can find out more about me and my hedgehog hospital here. Like all wildlife rescues, my work is entirely self-funded and you can find out how to support my work here.

I also make handmade silver jewellery inspired by nature and wildlife to raise vital funds for my hospital. You can visit my online jewellery shop here.

Silver wildlife jewellery
Silver wildlife jewellery

12 thoughts on “Why mealworms are bad for hedgehogs”

  1. Hi have been feeding hedgehogs for the past couple of years but lately I have found lots of slugs getting in the feeding box. Counted at least6-8 the other night and still there in morning, don’t think the hedgehogs had been, have had to take away and making a new box. Where is the best place to put it . I hate the big fat orange slugs and can’t get rid of the slim. Help please

  2. I have many hedgehogs living in my garden. I tend to feed them mainly special hog food obtained from a supplier of wildlife foods + cat biscuits. Any thoughts on this

  3. Hello, so sorry for the delayed response. I’ve updated the blog. Gravy is absolutely fine to use. Please don’t add any supplements – it can cause problems to also have too much of some vitamins and calcium. Supplementary food plus their natural diet will be fine!

  4. What is the problem with gravy cat food?

    Unfortunately, my hedgehog eats nothing but glutein free and lactose free cheese, ham and gravy cat foods but not the non-gravy one. Do you think it is enough?
    Should add some vitamins/calcium to the diet in addition?

    Many thanks

  5. This is information I’m glad to have come across, as naturally, I’ve responded to what the hedgehogs seem to spend more time eating. I’m guessing this means they are equally unhealthy for feathered friends?

  6. Any gravy isn’t good. Fish flavoured food is fine. All cat/dog meat contains fish derivatives. They just don’t tend to like the fish flavours. I stick with chichen falvour – most like that šŸ™‚

  7. I didn’t know that either. Is cat food in gravy okay or is it only the dog food in gravy that is a problem? What about fish flavoured food. I understood that is bad as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s