The wild hedgehog diet – why beetles not slugs are the No.1….

wild hedgehog diet
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Would you eat a slug? Well, they aren’t top of the foods that hedgehogs like to eat either.

Beetles, followed by caterpillars are the number 1 wild foods for hedgehogs.

wild hedgehog diet

wild hedgehog diet

But here we have a bit of a problem. The use of pesticides on our crops and in our gardens over recent years means that insect numbers are falling dramatically. The trend towards tidy gardens also means there are fewer plants for beetles and butterflies and places for them to hide away over Winter.

Slugs, snails and earthworms, as well as being the less favoured foods for hedgehogs, also create another problem. They are the intermediate hosts for internal parasties that can make hedgehogs very sick. You can read more about that here.

So… what can you do? It is vital to garden for insects. Do everything you can to create habitats for beetles and butterflies. Build a log pile and a compost heap. Build a bug hotel. Leave areas long and wild. Grow a wide variety of plants that are attractive to insects. As well as providing food for hedgehogs, these plants will also provide foraging cover for hedgehogs and also nest sites.

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Borders packed with a wide variety of plants are best for insects – and hedgehogs

Supplementary feeding and leaving out food and water for hedgehogs can also help give them a helping hand although it’s not unknown for a hedgehog to walk past a bowl of cat biscuits in favour of munching on a beetle. It will definitely help though.

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Build an insect hotel to attract bugs to your garden and provide somewhere for them to over-winter. Mine has a hedgehog house underneath!

If you want to control slug numbers in your garden please never use slug pellets. They poison hedgehogs. Once a hedgehog has been poisoned, very little can be done to save it.

I know I’ve said that slugs aren’t great for hedgehogs but they are good for other wildlife, including frogs. If you want to limit slug numbers, you can try a range of safe natural methods including copper tape and beer traps. I also use a natural nematode solution like Nemaslug, which is harmless to wildlife and helps to keep slug numbers under control.

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Provide supplementary food and water for hedgehogs, as well as gardening for insects

I run a hedgehog rescue in York, England. I also have a wildlife garden that I have made as wildlife friendly as possible. You can read more about my work here and also how to support it.

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6 thoughts on “The wild hedgehog diet – why beetles not slugs are the No.1….

  1. Excellent advice! I was staggered when I learned a few months ago that the invertebrate UK population has decreased by 45% in 35 years. I mention this in all my talks now.

  2. Great advice!I had a pleasant surprise a few weeks ago,I saw what I thought was the little hedgehog that came to us last Summer with lung worm a sleep under the shed so I closed off my greenhouse thinking he wasn’t using it any more only to find out the next day I had one in the greenhouse still and had inadvertently trapped it with no food or water so I unblocked the hedgehog door and put loads of food and water down for him in the greenhouse that night as well as the food and water I put under the shed….it was fine all the food was gone and half the water so was the food under the shed….We have 2 Hedgehogs living in our garden now.It looks like the one that hibernated under the shed is the one we overwintered 2 years ago has come back and the little one from last summer hibernated in the greenhouse.I’m glad the little one stayed for the winter as about a week and a half he started coming out in the day so I took him to the vets who treated him for parasites and then they sent him to our friend who lives down the road to rehabilitate,he looked after Speedy while we was on holiday for two weeks,anyway he got the little one up to a good wait and popped him back in out greenhouse while we was away as he was coming up to feed the other one and both are doing great now we are back home and they are still both here…..I can’t believe we went from no hedgehogs to one then to none then to one again and then over the winter we went to two…..love them!xx Rachel and Speedy

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