What to feed hedgehogs

Hedgehog eating kitten kibble. Getty Images

What do hedgehogs eat?

The European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) eats a variety of invertebrate food such as worms, insects (particularly beetles), caterpillars and small slugs. They will also sometimes eat carrion such as roadkill, frogs, small rodents, and birds’ eggs.

Do hedgehogs eat slugs and snails?

Hedgehogs do eat slugs and snails but not as many as we gardeners would like them to! Hedgehogs have small mouths so large slugs and snails are generally avoided. What’s more, slugs and snails often carry the parasitic worm lungworm, which can infect a hedgehog’s lungs and potentially make them very ill. It’s therefore best for hedgehogs that our gardens have a balanced natural supply of beetles, caterpillars, worms and other invertebrates to choose from.

What do hedgehogs drink?

Hedgehogs drink water.

What to feed hedgehogs in your garden

The best way to feed hedgehogs in your garden is to ensure there’s a good variety of natural food such as beetles and caterpillars. This means creating habitats such as log and leaf piles, large open compost heaps, native shrubs and long grass. Never use slug pellets or any other insecticide that’s designed to kill insects, as this will remove natural food for hedgehogs and could also harm hedgehogs that eat any infected food.

If you want to supplement their diet then dog or cat food is best, ideally dry kitten biscuits which are designed for small mouths. Food that claims to be designed specifically for hedgehogs is available but isn’t necessarily best for them – unlike pet food, wild animal food isn’t regulated and can therefore contain anything, including honey, fruit, seeds, nuts, fruit or mealworms, which aren’t safe for hedgehogs to eat. Always check the label on hedgehog food and ensure the main ingredient is meat, and that there’s no honey, seeds, nuts, fruit, mealworms or calci worms included. Cat and dog food has been rigorously tested and is safe and nutritious for hedgehogs, and is usually much cheaper to buy than hedgehog food.

How to make a hedgehog feeding station

Alfie the rescue hedgehog leaving hedgehog feeding station. Paul Debois
Alfie the rescue hedgehog leaving hedgehog feeding station. Paul Debois

Leaving food out for hedgehogs can attract them into the garden but it can also attract other animals, such as cats, foxes and mice. By making a hedgehog feeding station, you can ensure only hedgehogs are eating the food you leave out for them.

Hedgehog feeding stations are simply a box with a hedgehog-sized entrance hole that prevents other animals from getting in. It often includes a tunnel system that prevents cats from swiping the food and disturbing the hedgehogs, and usually has a heavy brick on top to prevent foxes from gaining access. You can buy ready made hedgehog feeding stations or make your own, using either a plastic or wooden box. Plastic storage boxes work well as they often come with a lid so you can make the hole and create a self-contained feeding station that’s easy to clean. Wooden boxes (or plastic boxes without a lid) can simply be turned upside down and the ‘base’ of the feeding station is the ground.

Carts

Accessories

Flower Seeds

Composting

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