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Can you overfeed?

Home Forums Champions’ chat Can you overfeed?

This topic contains 8 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by The Gallaghers The Gallaghers 2 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #15456

    Hi fairly new to this hog watching .. but Mr snout (and a few mates) visit my patio most nights…
    I put out Spike dried food, sometimes some cat biscuits.. last night I gave some raspberries and pears.. He was scoffing it for ages.. crunch crunch…I could hear him munching it up..
    I dont want to stop them searching for their own food, or making them lazy just in case I cant feed them for some reason.. what do you do when you go on holiday?
    Are they OK with tap water? I cant collect rain water, but am happy to buy some mineral water, they seem to drink loads…
    Tks

    #15457
    Nic
    Nic

    Hi Laura

    Usually the hogs won’t overeat, but I did hear of one recently who got rather over-weight! But it may have had as much to do with what was being fed as it actually eating large amounts. I didn’t hear that bit of information – about what it had been eating.

    If you are worried, you could limit the amount of time, daily, that you leave the food out. I used to do that for several years, and it does have many advantages. Not least that the hogs used to visit at a time when I was still up to see them. Seeing hogs in real time beats video by a long way, for me. So I used to leave the food out for 2 – 3 hours a night. The hogs seemed to learn to arrive during that time. But always make sure there is water available 24 hours a day. A dehydrated hog may come out during the day and the water may be a life-saver.

    Re. what you are feeding – I would give the raspberries and pears a miss. Hogs are thought to eat fruit occasionally, but only occasionally. To feed them fruit, which is high in sugars, isn’t good for their teeth. Bear in mind that they might still eat the occasional fruit which they find themselves. But I think it normally forms a very small part of some hogs’ diet and many may not eat it at all unless offered it by humans.

    Ideally, what we feed the hogs should only be supplementary, so that it shouldn’t effect them too much if you go on holiday. Some people get friends/neighours/relatives to continue putting food out. But the best thing you can do is to try to make your garden as hedgehog friendly as possible so that the hogs can find ‘wild’ food for themselves. Some tips here:

    Helpful garden features


    As well, of course, as linking gardens. This not only increases the area of habitat the hogs can access, but also makes it less likely that they will need to cross roads to find suitable habitat, with all the dangers which arise from that.

    Link your garden: Hedgehog Highways

    Re. the tap water. Some people think that tap water is not so good for the hogs, but I think it is better than putting out nothing. If you are worried about the chlorine (or whatever they use these days) you could always leave it in an open dish for a while, or even boil and cool it before putting it out. That should allow any chemicals in it to evaporate a bit. If you have water softener, make sure that you only give the hogs water which has not been treated by that. i.e. that is suitable for human consumption. I, personally, would not buy bottled water for them – which, of course, usually has other environmental implications as well. I did also hear that some have much higher levels of minerals in them than others. So potentially, that might not be so good for the hogs, either.

    Good luck. Hope you continue to enjoy the visits of Mr. Snout and his mates.

    #15534

    Hedgehogs are not fructivores, they do not have a caecum and they cannot digest the cellulose in plant matter.

    People say they see them eating it. They are usually after insects on it or the sugary liquid rotting fruit produces. Please do not feed them fruit, it isn’t good for them.

    They regulate their own intake so it’s pretty much impossible to overfeed, just give cat biscuits, hedgehog biscuits and water. Tinned meat will go off quickly in summer.

    Trying to limit their feeding times to force them to come in when you can see them is not a great idea. They need to fill their stomach twice a night especially coming in to hibernation or when rearing young. Just put out a load of food, every night right throughout the year, even in winter when, despite the myths, they do not all sleep right the way through but in bursts coming out to top up brown fat. With the warmer winter, some don’t sleep at all.

    When you go on holiday ask a neighbour to put the food out instead.

    Tap water is fine. That’s all they get in the hospitals, we are not going to rush out buying Evian. Rainwater can contain all sorts of nasties.

    #15535
    Nic
    Nic

    Hi HogHosp

    Thanks for confirming that fruit is not good for hogs.

    That’s actually quite funny – the idea of trying to force the hogs to come to eat when you can see them! They will come when they want to! But the point is, unlike in hog hospitals, what we feed hogs in the wild is supposed to be only supplementary to what they can find for themselves, so that not leaving food out all night should not be a problem for them. They have the rest of the night to forage for wild food (or find artificial food elsewhere). It just happens to sometimes have the effect that the hogs choose to time their visits to coincide with when the food is available – providing the added bonus of the opportunity of seeing them in real time.

    Many people may think they are leaving food out all night, which may in fact be being eaten by cats and rats, etc. so that the food is not there all night, anyway. Cats will over-eat. For some people it may, of necessity, be a case of leaving food out only for short periods or not at all.

    By the way there was one particular hedgehog recently who achieved some notoriety for being overweight – including appearances on TV – Countryfile, if I’m remembering correctly, was one programme.

    Ideally, we would be paying far more attention to improving and increasing the hogs’ habitat so that they can find food for themselves, which is much better for them than any artificial food we offer them. That is, as I see it, the main aim of Hedgehog Street. Still a long way to go, but I dream of the day when enough of us have made our gardens hedgehog friendly (and linked them) so that the hogs no longer have to rely on artificial food at all.

    #15537

    I’m very well aware of what their feeding habits are having worked with these animals both in a rescue capacity and a research capacity for many years. Yes, the food put out for them is supplementary but given the ridiculous weather we are having these days often there is very little natural food for them to eat especially when that is coupled with gardeners spraying and poisoning every living thing in their garden. Often all that is left are slugs, slugs give them lungworm and lungworm kills.

    Putting food out all year round allows the hogs to come and get it when they need it. This is especially important during the winter when many of them hibernate without enough reserves to take them right through the winter, they will come out to eat after using remaining energy to wake up. They are in dire straits if they have to walk huge distances trying to forage with no guarantee of any food at the end of it.

    The programme recently, and the report in the papers about hogs being overweight was based on an observation of a single wildlife rescue with no research backing it up. Some hedgehogs were coming in early in the year larger than we would normally expect to see but they were not overweight, they were still able to fully curl. This is far more likely to be due to two warm winters where they did not hibernate at all but were able to carry on foraging.

    As to cats eating the food, not if it’s provided in a cat-proof, fox proof feeding station which is something that most rescues and hospitals advise.

    #15538
    Nic
    Nic

    Hi HogHosp

    Yes, I know what you mean re. the chemicals many people spray on their gardens. Which makes it all the more important that we pass on the word about gardening in a hedgehog/wildlife friendly way and linking gardens. I suspect hedgehogs do not even cross many people’s mind when they are spraying these chemicals – many of which I, personally, think are pretty pointless anyway! Thankfully, the hedgehogs have more than slugs to eat in my garden as well as some other suitable habitat nearby.

    Re. the over-weight hog. Yes, I was talking about just the one hog. I have understood it to be the case that “usually hogs won’t over-eat”.

    I have, myself, more than one winter, had non-hibernating hedgehogs visiting here and have gone to great lengths to ensure there was food for them all night, every night through the winter, if they came for it. Not an easy matter with ‘Houdini’ cats – who could get into boxes, which most people would claim were cat proof, as well as a rat! Not everything always turns out as easily as we may like it to be!

    #15654

    Just joining the conversation to add: we also have those ‘Houdini’ cats that somehow squeeze inside the small entry of the hedgehog feeding station, one even tried it while there was a hog inside!

    #15658
    Nic
    Nic

    Bet that cat got a surprise!

    #15661

    Hahaha he surely did, we caught that on the Arlo cam, quite amusing what goes on deep in the night in the garden!

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