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What do wild hedgehogs eat?

Hedgehogs are widely recognised as a potent ally in the garden, but what do they actually eat? What makes up a wild hedgehog’s diet?

Hedgehogs mainly eat creepy crawlies

Hedgehogs are generalists and feed on a wide range of things, but the majority of their diet is made up of invertebrates (or creepy crawlies). We know what they eat from scientific studies that have analysed hedgehog poo or looked in the stomachs of hedgehogs killed on roads.

The most important invertebrates in their diet are worms, beetles, slugs, caterpillars, earwigs and millipedes.

Source: Wroot A. J. (1984) Feeding ecology of the European hedgehogThe big six invertebrates for hedgehogs

As well as these, they also eat a wide range of other insects, and more infrequently will take advantage of carrion, frogs, baby rodents, baby birds, birds’ eggs and fallen fruit.

'Hog eating a frog by Barbara Witowska

‘Hog eating a frog by Barbara Witowska

When you are putting out food for hedgehogs, you can replicate the hedgehog’s natural diet by using unsalted nuts, mealworms and meat-based dog and cat food.

Studies suggest that hedgehogs only use food in gardens as a supplement to their natural diet and therefore there is no evidence to suggest you are causing them to become dependent on you for food. This means you are free to go on holiday!

→ What can I feed hedgehogs?

 

Hedgehog