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.
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.
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.
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.