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Hi Amanda

I agree with you it can be very confusing with some of the different hedgehog foods. However, you have chosen the wrong one to criticise in ‘I Love Hedgehogs’. It is made by a reputable and responsible wildlife food supplier. In fact the recipe for it used to be very similar to that provided by one of Ark Wildlife’s foods. Both have since changed their recipes.

‘I Love Hedgehogs’ (which was probably one of the earliest hedgehogs foods available, so they have by no means jumped on the bandwagon) recipe was changed as soon as the knowledge about the problems with mealworms became more widely known. It is they who have replaced the mealworms with calciworms. (Spikes may or may not have done as well – I don’t know).

I Love Hedgehogs information now says:
{“This energy rich blend has been updated in line with latest research. We’ve removed sultanas and reduced honey levels – now shown to be a potential cause of tooth decay in hedgehogs. And to maintain an optimum balance of calcium and phosphorous (important for bone health) we’ve substituted mealworms with dried calci-worms, larvae of the black soldier fly.”}

A few sunflower hearts/nuts as part of a properly balanced feed are not necessarily bad. It is when they are fed on their own that the problem mainly arises.

Whilst I admire the intention behind what you are saying, if you are promoting hedgehog foods on Facebook or elsewhere, you need to be really careful that you do your research thoroughly before wrongly criticising one particular food. I suggest that if you have a problem with any type of food that you contact the makers in the first instance and have a discussion with them about it. That could clear up misunderstandings such as this one. It would also, I imagine, have a far greater impact, in a case where the recipe was not appropriate and they were persuaded to change it.

In that respect, you might like to know that when I typed Ark Wildlife into Google part of the first item that came up said:
Dried Mealworms
Hedgehogs can’t resist the taste of
Live & Dried Mealworms

Clearly this also was out of date information, but for anyone that doesn’t look further they might take it as read. They do still sell mealworms for hedgehogs, suggesting that people only feed them as a treat. Since many people see treats as everyday things, these days, that doesn’t seem to me the best idea. We can all do better I feel.

The message about mealworms is very far from known to everyone who feeds hedgehogs. There are very many people who are still feeding them. Some either think they are good for the hogs, or that they are better feeding them than nothing. I do not believe that is true. Feeding mealworms can be more harmful than allowing hedgehogs to find their own natural food. They could actually ‘encourage’ them not to find natural food, if they have filled up on mealworms. The problem with mealworms is not solely the calcium/phosphorous ratio, bad though it is. They also have very little nutritional value and hedgehogs fed largely on them will find it very difficult to put on the two types of fat they need for hibernation. This means that they may not survive hibernation. Serious stuff. That is the sort of problem we need to be working towards solving. It is far better for people to be feeding a hedgehog food such as ‘I Love Hedgehogs’ than to be feeding mealworms. Even with the old recipe, it was still more balanced than mealworms alone and with the new recipe even better.

I think it might be helpful if you also tried to get over the message that feeding should only be supplementary and encouraging people to link gardens and improve habitat for the hedgehogs. If the hedgehogs are able to find their own wild food, that will be much better for them than any of the foods we can give them.