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Home Forums Hedgehog tales EXCESSIVE EATING

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    Please can someone confirm whether hedgehogs eat significantly more food at this time of year to build up their fat supplies for hibernation. Ive noticed in the past couple of weeks that food is disappearing at an alarming rate (hogs are visiting between 8.30 pm and 5.30am and there are approx 20 visits during this time, according to my camera, and more hedgehogs are eating in pairs). Ive put out an extra dish of food but each morning all the food has been eaten.

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    Hi ChrisMc

    Some hogs could well be eating more at this time of year in preparation for hibernation. But also the males may be spending less time pursuing females so could turn up at the same times and devote more time to feeding. But I have found that it’s usually the females who are more likely to tolerate eating with another hog. The other thing to consider, though is this years hoglets, which will be swelling numbers at those places which are lucky enough to have them visiting. They seem to love sharing bowls with other hogs, either hoglets or adults. Some of the early hoglets will have got quite big by now.

    Hogs often make multiple visits to feeding stations, eating a bit each time and going on their wanderings elsewhere in between.

    I would just enjoy their visits – they obviously like it there.

    Good luck and happy hog watching.


    Yep, they are definitely eating more this time of year. I’ve noticed it too.

    You’re definitely right about the hoglets loving to share food. I saw one come out of the house where she’d been napping, go into the house next door where the other one usually sleeps then come back out and go to the feeding station. She spent another couple of mins apparently trying to locate her friend, then once she found them, they both went to the feeding station together. I couldn’t see any reason for this behaviour other than sociability, unless maybe the hoglets feel safer in pairs or groups? The other hog she was looking for is grown to almost adulthood now, but still seems friendly with the little one.


    Hi ChrisMc. Yes and yes ! I posted somewhere on this forum recently about the amount of food they were devouring lately. Nic replied that they don’t overeat – but watching a hoggie eating half a tin (400 g tin) of wet food from one dish, then – it’s true it was the same hog – going to another dish and eating half as much again it’s a wonder he/she could waddle away !!
    Not having a camera I only watch until maybe midnight, but have to refill the several dishes I leave out, some of biscuits some of wet food. One evening they were all emptied within 2 hours.
    I do wonder if the hot dry weather we’ve had lately (west of England here) has made their natural food harder to find, it can’t be easy for them or the birds to find food in such heat I suppose?

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    Wild hogs tend not to become overweight. Some in captivity may do, and it’s possible a hog recently released from hog care, for instance, may continue to eat more than it needs for a while, but will also have other distractions so it’s weight would hopefully regulate. An older hog may rely more on supplementary food than wild food, so be seeming to eat more than others may do.

    The male hogs who may have spent a lot of time chasing the females, and so lost weight as a result (not always enough time to eat), will probably be wanting to put it on again now (pre-hibernation). So probably eat more.

    But, hogs pretty much know what they need, so I would just keep offering as much as they eat.


    Hi Nic. Thanks for comments. I do try to put out as much food as desired as I’m sure we all do. Just surprised at the additional food needed recently.
    It makes a lot of sense that it might be the males, having been too busy to eat in the breeding season ! Also the males were very much disturbing the females eating then so possibly they are enjoying a more peaceful meal now ?!
    It is all quite fascinating I find.


    Strangely, last night they left some food – the first time in two weeks, so I wonder if they will do the same again. I have tried wet food but they don`t seem to like it, so have stuck with the dry food and very occasional mealworm treats.

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    Hi daffydill

    Don’t forget that many of the females have had hoglets to contend with. It takes a lot out of a Mother hog feeding the youngsters. i.e. Pat Morris writes in ‘Hedgehogs’ talking about when the hoglets wander off alone:

    At this stage they weigh about 250 grams, 10 times their weight at birth. From conception to weaning is ony about 2 months. In that time each baby has been fed mainly by milk from its mother. She has had to provide enough nourishment for the ‘manufacture’ and maintenance of over a kilo of baby hedgehogs (more than her own weight) as well as herself. It must be a tremendous strain and is hardly surprising that 20 per cent of the young don’t make it. ….

    So she will need to make up for that effort. That is why female hogs tend to hibernate later than males. She has to wait until the hoglets go it alone before concentrating on herself.

    But re. courting – some females will keep a male waiting until she finishes eating before engaging in any courtship activities. The ‘gentleman’ hogs will usually wait until she finishes – but not all of them are so patient. It sometimes almost looks as if she’s saying ‘leave me alone – I WANT TO EAT!’

    Yes, I agree, hedgehogs are endlessly fascinating!

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    Hi ChrisMc

    Some of the males do seem to disappear (presumably to hibernate) surprisingly early, so possibly less hogs visiting?

    I know I’ve said it before, but I seriously would give the mealworms a miss. They have low nutritional value as well as an imbalance of phosphorous and calcium so, in the run up to hibernation an even worse idea than may be considered some other times (although I would give them a miss at all times). They are likened to feeding children crisps or chocolate. The hogs need really good nutrition at this time of year to put on the two particular types of fat which they need for hibernation. If they eat mealworms, that means less room for something more nutritious.

    Dry cat, dog or hog food is ok as long as there is plenty of water around. Water is best left available all day every day, just in case.

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