Foraging in dry weather
25th May 2020 at 2:32 pm #23841
I’ve currently got two resident hogs and other visitors which I feed with dry biscuits and water every night. I know this food is supplementary for them and they are also, mostly, foraging. I’ve got one female resident who I think might have given birth and she just seems to go to the food and water on several occasions during the night and back into the nest box. My question is about their likely foraging success in the very dry weather we’ve had here for several weeks. I water the garden most days, including the overgrown areas, to try and help soften the ground and encourage insects out but I am concerned, particularly if hoglets are going to arrive. Can one of our experts comment on hog foraging habits in very dry weather and if there is anything I can do in my garden to help out? I realise that they are survivors and I might be being overly cautious, but I am concerned about hoglets arriving in dry weather and how they will learn the ropes if natural food is hard to find. Thanks!25th May 2020 at 3:36 pm #23846
I’m not really a hedgehog expert but I have been researching them for ages now and know quit a bit about them.
I think the best thing that you can do is just carry on putting food and water out, you could also get some mealworms which will be really nutritious for them and put them out with the cat food you have already.
A good tip I would recommend is that when it is getting dark is to just give your garden a good water and the grass so that when the hoglets come out in around 3- 4 weeks there will be more insects such as slugs coming out that they can eat. Another good tip that I do sometimes is get some soil or compost In a heap and spray it thoroughly with water as this will attract things like slugs into it and the hoglets and mum can forage through it for them. It is also brilliant if you have a pond because they will attract small, insects even if it just a washing up bowl.
hope I could hep you
Rosie 🙂25th May 2020 at 5:34 pm #23848
Thanks for your comments. I’ve taken your advice about creating a wet compost area behind my pond so we’ll see how that works25th May 2020 at 10:06 pm #23852
no worry’s hope it works the hogs that visit our garden seemed to like it so fingers crossed 🙂25th May 2020 at 10:41 pm #23855
It is more difficult for hogs when it’s very dry, especially getting access to water. If you are watering grassy areas, they would still have access to earthworms, etc. which is good, but don’t forget that much of their wild food is beetles and caterpillars.
So having woodpiles, earth banks, etc. is good for beetles and of course not using any insecticide or really any chemicals in the garden is a help. Nothing like a nice pile of damp rotting wood and if you are ever creating a new area for planting, upside down turf piled up makes good beetle banks.
Mealworms, as we know are a definite no – having an imbalance of phosphorous and calcium – and particularly bad if there are hoglets around. You definitely don’t want to introduce them. But maybe that suggestion was a typo.
Contrary to popular belief, most hogs don’t eat a huge number of slugs, but those they do eat tend to be the smaller ones, which are apparently the ones that do most damage to plants, so that’s good!
I’m hoping that we will have had some much waited for rain by the time the hoglets appear! Fingers crossed all these hoglets we are all hoping for make an appearance!
Good luck.26th May 2020 at 5:48 am #23862
Thanks Nic. I’ve got a nice wild area behind my pond that the hogs use a lot with some rotting wood but I’ll look to develop that now. I don’t want them dependent on the supplementary feed so I’ll keep working on this. You’re right that we really need some good rainfall now but the forecast doesn’t show any rain for the next 10 days. If the hoglet dates work out like I think then they should start appearing over the next couple of weeks. I’m only basing this on when I saw mating activity and the female’s behaviour as I’ve resisted checking the nest box out!26th May 2020 at 11:51 am #23874
Sounds like you have been watching the hogs for some time.
I just wanted to check that you know that latest guidance on feeding hedgehogs is not to feed meal worms. They can be crippling to the hogs and have no nutrition. The hogs love them though…a bit like me and Pringles! They can become addicted and may even have to be weaned off them.
Have fun with the hogs.26th May 2020 at 3:38 pm #23902
Hi, no I don’t feed them mealworms. That comment came from another user.27th May 2020 at 6:44 am #23948
Sorry. I thought I replied to that post. I am hoping everyone on here doesn’t feed meal worms………27th May 2020 at 8:55 am #23951
Hopefully most people who’ve been visiting Hedgehog Street for any length of time will have got the message about the danger of mealworms, by now. Although new people may not. I actually wondered whether the mention of them earlier in this strand was a typo and they meant to say calci-worms. It would be an easy mistake to make, even if not helpful to the hogs.
Just to repeat again for anyone else who reads this. Mealworms are not good for hogs because they have an imblance of phosphorous and calcium, which can lead to the calcium being leached from the bones. It can lead to bone problems in adults and deformities in hoglets. Sadly, hogs love them and can become ‘addicted’ and not want to eat anything else. So that whilst one person may think it’s o.k. to feed a small amount, if others nearby are thinking the same thing, the hog potentially could go round to the different places and just eat the mealworms from each place. So it’s better not to feed mealworms at all to hedgehogs.
The following is some information from Vale Wildlife
http://www.valewildlife.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Feeding-wild-hedgehogs.pdf27th May 2020 at 11:46 am #23961
I did what you suggested yesterday and built a log and turf pile behind the pond to encourage insects etc. I was pleased to see when I pulled up a log that was already there that there were loads of insects despite the dry weather. I gave it a good soaking and at least one of the resident hogs was rooting around there last night. I’ll continue to water the pile while the dry weather continues.
On another matter I previously posted I’ve seen no sign of the fox for three weeks so maybe the motion sensor lights have sent it elsewhere, although he might just have found a better food source. Thanks for your sound advice again!27th May 2020 at 5:26 pm #24013
I know I mentioned nice damp rotting wood, but there’s something to be said for a dry woodpile as well. I made one in an old wooden box (used to be an outside cat kennel years ago) on it’s side and filled it with any fallen bits of wood – mostly quite small – but also the odd bit of rolled up corrugted cardboard, etc. and shortly afterwards some bumble bees moved in. But it’s always full of all sorts of mini beasts. It tends to gradually sink but I add a few more twigs etc. now and then. Although it is beginning to fall apart now.
But those gabion baskets you can get are good for making homes for mini beasts as well, if you want to keep them reasonably tidy. A garden doesn’t have to be untidy to be wildlife friendly.
Good news re. the fox. I’ve got a rat here again at the moment. The last one didn’t like kitten biscuits, but sadly this one does. There was one clip on video of it attacking a hedgehog! Only enough to make it move away from the bowl, but even so. There were two other bowls with food in, but it seems the rat wanted the one the hog was eating from!28th May 2020 at 1:18 am #24021
Wood damaging insects (I can’t remember what you call them, but there are plenty of them, and they are fairly small and grey). I’m not sure if hogs like to eat them. But all you need to do is put a piece of wood, preferably a log, but an old piece of untreated wood is fine, and within the hour, ten will turn up, then an hour later, double that and so on.
We make trap doors for school nature areas, and it’s just a square piece of wood with a wooden knob on top to create a handle, and we place it on the ground. (as it’s for schools, we secure it into the ground, but this isn’t necessary) and as soon as I’ve finished eating my lunch, I come back to find hundreds of them.
You can put a brick down, or anything, and they’ll quickly find their way underneath and set up home in no time.
Also, do hogs eat ladybirds. My rose plants, all four of them, are infested with greenfly, and I have an army of ants controlling them, not eating them, but getting their sticky stuff they leave all over the plants, (controlling them by making sure they keep producing this sticky stuff and moving them to where they want them).
So I’m hoping this infestation is going to attract ladybirds, which the hogs might want to eat perhaps?28th May 2020 at 1:23 am #24022
It’s woodlice I’m on about – do hogs eat woodlice? If so it’s easy to attract them. But each night, you’d have to turn the piece of wood upside down – problem with that, these woodlice aren’t daft and they’d just quickly go climb underneath the other side before the hogs can get to them.28th May 2020 at 9:35 am #24028
Hi Hedgie Lover
Sadly it seems hog eat very few if any woodlice, even though there are so many around. I’ve never seen them eating one and they are often readily available.
In Pat Morris’ book ‘Hedgehogs’ it says:
“….. The biggest mystery must surely be that hedgehogs seem to eat very few woodlice. This is odd because woodlice are very common creatures, especially in gardens. ……”
I’m not sure about ladybirds. I’ve never seen them mentioned, but suspect not, as they are normally not on the ground. Yes, the ants will tend the greenfly like a flock of sheep, or perhaps cows would be a better analogy as they ‘milk’ them for honey dew! But if you leave the aphids and don’t be tempted to spray them, something will likely come along and eat them.
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