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Hedgehog in the garden

Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings Hedgehog in the garden

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    We have recently started to have a hedgehog in the garden and I’ve joined the site to hopefully gain some knowledge on how to take care of him/her. Since having it in the garden we have brought it a hedgehog hoglio which I just love. I have some questions regarding helping it if someone would be so kind to assist

    How can I tell if hedgehog is he or she?
    It appears to be loving mealworms at the minute, how many is too many and how often? where is it best positioned? (I have a photo but can’t find a place to upload onto the website?) it is currently by a wall, not facing north or north easterly winds, but can get some sun on it during the day? it is slightly covered by a bush but the bush is not thick.
    What can we do to make the hoglio look appealing to it?
    What is the most ideal food for it? and where is this best positioned? I am aware of an upside down plastic box with a hole in to place food in.

    Any other first timer advice is much appreciated. I absolutely love having it around and watching how it behaves. Even brought a trail camera to observe!

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    Hi Natalie

    Welcome to the Forum. So pleased that you have a hedgehog visiting there – and that you are so pleased!

    First of all food.

    Hedgehogs, do love mealworms, but unfortunately, they aren’t good for them. As well as having little nutritional value to the hogs, they have an imbalance of phosphorous and calcium so that they can lead to bone problems. So please stop feeding those. You may find you have to reduce them gradually, i.e. a few sprinkled on the top of some other food to start with, because they can become a bit addicted to them.

    The best things to supplementary feed hedgehogs are cat/dog/hedgehog food or cat/kitten biscuits. Other than water, nothing else is necessary. Water is all they need to drink, but is vitally important. I use shallow plant saucers – not so deep that a hoglet could get stuck in. Hogs are very clever at tipping water saucers over, so a wide one will work better. I have several around the garden – 24 hours a day just in case a nursing mother or dehydrated hedgehog is desperate for a drink in the middle of the day. More information on feeding hogs: There are various types of hedgehog foods around these days.

    Re. placing the hogilo. Probably best in a peaceful, sheltered area of the garden – not too close to where you feed. Under a bush is fine, but not in the sun. If you think that is the best location, maybe you could cover the part which is in the sun over with some brush wood. The thing to remember about places where hogs make nests – hibernation nests, in particular – is that they make them so that they are well insulated which helps to maintain a regular temperature. More information about hog houses:

    But some really important things to do are to make your garden more wildlife friendly. Some ideas:

    There is a lot of interest in wildlife friendly garden on the gardening programmes on TV at the moment. I believe the Friday 12th 9.00 p.m. edition of Gardeners World will be concentrating on wild flowers and wildlife friendly gardens. You may still be able to see the garden that featured on Springwatch on catch up TV (not sure whether it’s still available) if you haven’t already seen it.

    Also making your garden and others easily accessible is very important. Many hedgehogs are killed crossing roads. As well as increasing the habitat available to the hogs, they are less like to have to cross roads if they can easily access enough habitat via linked gardens. So try to encourage all your neighbours to link their gardens and introduce wildlife friendly features.

    There is sometimes a misconception that a wildlife garden is necessarily an untidy garden. This might put some people off, but it doesn’t have to be untidy. There are many things which can be done to make gardens more wildlife friendly whilst still keeping them tidy. For instance a wild flower area can be confined within a paved area, bug hotels can be made in boxes (I have an old tea chest full of old bits of twigs, small branches, corrugated cardboard, etc.) or gabion baskets, etc.

    Planting nectar rich plants is good, but also planting loads of plants and shrubs – in the wild, plants grow all mingled in together. But you can also have a, what some might consider untidy, bramble patch, nettle patch, etc. (nettles food plant for many caterpillars). Native species are not essential for providing nectar, etc, but are for other parts of insects’ life cycles. You could consider native shrubs, i.e. hawthorn – lovely white flowers in the spring and red berries in the autumn – food for the birds, but also planted in groups or hedges, could provide nesting places for the hedgehogs as well as birds. Hedgehogs eat caterpillars, as well as beetles, earthworms, etc. So, a generally wildlife friendly garden is good for them.

    If you have a pond, make sure there are as many access/exit places as possible. Hedgehogs can swim, but can’t get out if the sides are too steep. Birds will also benefit from sloping sides.

    Re. telling if the hog is a male or female – it isn’t possible by just looking at them, although you may be able to spot the males on video from your trail cam – they have a ‘blob’ roughly mid-abdomen. (usually most easily visible from the side, I find) Later on if you get more hogs visiting, you may be able to tell from their behaviour. The male will circle the female during ‘courtship’ whilst she huffs and turns around and around (so that her face continues to be roughly facing his). This can go on for hours, but doesn’t always result in mating. Sometimes one or other of them just gives up and wanders off! The males can be a bit aggressive and biff and roll each other up. The females will sometimes nudge another one, grumpily, but in my experience don’t roll others up.

    Good luck. Hope you continue to have many happy hours hedgehog watching.

    Or you could put a photo on as your profile picture.


    Welcome Natalie
    I only feed my hogs on Spikes Dry food, easily available from pet shops. They seem to love it and it’s not too costly. I once tried Spikes Moist food but they didn’t like it as much. I also leave out several shallow bowls of water, they do drink a lot. Good luck with your hogs



    thank you both for getting in touch, I really appreciate it.

    We have stopped the mealworms, and I brought the spikes food both wet and dry. However this seems to have attracted lots of local cats, so we’ve had to stop this too. Is there any other food, which hedgehogs like but other animals don’t, which we could provide? We do have slugs and snails in the garden and we do not put down any pellets or killers. The hedgehog seems to be doing a good job of clearing these up. We put down plenty of water in small saucers for it. We love having it in the garden! We want to make it as comfortable and hedgehog friendly as possible, in the hope that we may see some hoglets in the future.

    Thank you so much for replying.

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    Hi Natalie

    There are some hedgehog foods which cats are supposed to like less – but there is always an exception. For instance I Love Hedgehogs – there are other similar ones available. But you might be better off trying to create a cat proof feeding area. Some people use plastic see through under bed stores (hedgehog sized hole with tape around the edges of the hole and possibly a pipe as tunnel – examples under the hedgehog feeding link I gave you above). I used a piece of perspex balanced on 4, 3 litre pots filled with earth. Bricks on top of the perspex to stop it being pushed up. Theoretically, you could use any sheet of material, but see through stuff means you can still see the hogs. So, high enough for the hogs but just that bit more difficult for the cats, so most don’t bother to try.

    But making sure the garden is hog friendly is a brilliant thing to do, too.

    So pleased you are enjoying having the hog around.


    Hi all, can I just point out, we all make mistakes, like the mealworms! After only giving them for just two or three nights, the hogs went on hunger strike and refused to eat for several nights. It seems to be a trait with them. I use Spike semi moist which looks like mince. They have been eating this, but just bought 2 packets as was running out. Guess what, it has changed in appearance, it is darker, thinner and smaller pieces. Have they eaten it, no. So it’s hunger strike again. They do like a cat biscuit, Purina, or something, , different shapes and tastes, they prefer them to hog biscuits. They were eating wet cat food, chicken, turkey and duck but a fourth pkt in the mixed box was called mixed poultry, (now I ask, what is that?) oh no, would not touch that one. Tried dog food, ate one but not the other as I got 2 on offer. I’ve given up on the wet food for now as it starts to smell and turns green as they maybe wee on it to show disdain. It also attracts flies. But maybe that’s what they want to happen! Lots of juicy insects. So, I now wait for them to accept the new Spike moist. We still love them though and I shouldn’t complain cause I’m a fussy eater as well. Good luck and best wishes.


    We use ARK hedgehog food- online
    It is very popular with the local hogs.
    As Annker says they can be fussy. I thought I would try and give them some variety and bought free range no additives wet chicken cat food…..and…….no interest what so ever!
    Personally I stick to dry food it doesn’t go off so quickly and doesn’t seem to attract foxes.
    We do have a difficult to get into food station which is very popular and just got number 1 spot on Trip Advisor for West Sussex!
    Hope you enjoy watching them.
    I am besotted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Hi NatalieR9454, well, 3 days later and the new style spike all went last night! Just some crumbs left! So finally gave in and ate it, all. As said previously, they will go on hunger strike if the food changes but give in, in the end. So, don’t keep running around changing food every day if they don’t eat what you’ve put out. The only exception is fresh cat/dog food which will go off and smell, but if you want to persist, keep to the same one. Best wishes.


    Hi all, I checked my cctv to see who arte all the food as my previous message mentioned. What a surprise, Big Benny and Tommy have come back! Also a female that I think was Dinky Minky, they were having a rave in the feeding station. The little minxes, I’ve been so worried they had disappeared. It looks like there was slim pickings out there as all we found was crumbs all over! Little Pippa tried to get in early last night for a snack. No water left in the many ground bird baths, but the cat bowl was still full. Still no babies though. I live in hope. Best wishes to you all.


    Hey Annker,
    Isn’t it lovely when you see the ones you thought had gone?
    Sounds like you have lots of little friends at the moment.
    I am having 2 regulars the last few nights. We do have others but looks as if they may be feeding elsewhere. I just hope the recent heat hasn’t affected them.
    It has been raining in the night so hopefully that will help them dig for natural food. I have never been so happy to see a bit of rain.


    Hi simbo65, I also was waiting for the rain as my collecting bowl was running out of water and its rained last night. Goody, I can go and filter some water and bottle it. I know the hogs are less likely to feed from the station when it’s wet and I try not to worry when they’re not around as they’re wild animals. I’m terrible with wildlife, like birds, we have so many feeding here and before moving here was either taking them to vets or ringing rspca. I seem to know how many of each species we have without thinking and know when some are missing. I would say it’s been warm here in Lancashire, but not hot and guess we get more rain than in the south. Best wishes.


    Hello again!

    It was spike hedgehog food that I brought both wet and dry, and it drove the local cats mad trying to get in at it (there are a lot here). I may try that I love hedgehogs one if that is less likely to attract attention of cats. I love her coming in and I now have photograph evidence that she is in fact a she! I want her to keep coming and with the upcoming hog season I want to make sure she is plenty fed with the good stuff and watered (there is always plenty down for her).

    I thought I’d found an ideal place for her hogilo (behind a bush but not fully covered as the bush is not quite big enough) and when I went to clean it it had all kinds of bugs in there so I can clearly see why she perhaps hasnt gone in yet as I’m aware they seem to be quite clean creatures?? I’m also aware that she probably wont move in straight away. I tried to move the hogilo but then she didnt come in at all last night! I hope this hasnt upset her. Am I doing the right thing moving it so soon or is it best to be left? Also if there are any other food suggestions which hogs like but cats dont I’d be happy to hear. If she is in hog when would we expect to see hoglets?

    Many thanks for the input you guys I really appreciate it from a novice hedgehog parent!


    Hi all.
    I have used Ark hedgehog food for years. If you place it under cover in a feeding station and block access to it for anything larger than a hog, cats won’t get at it. It doesn’t smell as strongly as wet foods and will last for ages as long as it stays dry.
    Despite having houses dotted about, the hogs obviously have better accomodation elsewhere because they are invariably empty!
    I’m happy as long as they keep visiting!



    I have had a search of the I Love Hedgehogs food – seems to contain a type of worm and some nuts which I thought were harmful to hedgehogs? Can you confirm whether this is a good choice or not please. Willing to try it regardless of the price IF it is nutritionally beneficial to her. Different attempts at feeding station failed with the spikes hedgehog food- the food is attracting all the local cats which is upsetting our resident cat – who just happens to love watching our hog in the garden.

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    Hi Natalie

    First of all, have you tried the cat deterrants, i.e. Perspex type sheet on earth filled flower pots with bricks on top (which hogs who aren’t keen on going in boxes seem to think is still outside) (and your cat would still be able to watch them) or other feeding stations.

    I Love Hedgehogs changed their recipe after the dangers of mealworms became known. They now use calci-worms, which have a higher level of calcium than mealworms. Nut and sunflower seeds are not good for the hogs, fed on their own, but as part of a balanced mix they are o.k. Some of the information about I love hedgehogs hasn’t been updated (online, some feed bags, etc.). I use it myself and have had several conversations with the makers about it and I believe that they are reputable manufacturers who have looked into producing a food with the correct balance of nutrients, etc. and monitor it to make sure it fits in with latest knowledge, etc. I should say that, other than checking up on them from time to time and being a customer, I don’t have any other connection with the makers.

    Whilst most cats aren’t interested in that type of hog food, there are exceptions to most rules! So I would still put something in place which puts cats off – as suggested above.

    What we feed the hogs is supplementary to what they can find in the wild, although in long hot dry spells, it can be harder for them to find wild food. It is very important to link as many gardens as possible, so that the hogs have access to more habitat. That also has the benefit of making it less likely that the hogs need to cross roads, with all the hazards they present. Some hogs can travel up to 2 miles in a night. So you will realise that they need access to lots of gardens!

    I’m sure you leave out water, anyway, but lots of water sources in the garden for the hogs are very important in this hot dry weather. I always leave water available for the hogs all day every day. Wide, shallow plant saucers are ideal for this.

    Good luck. I hope you manage to reach some compromise between the cats and the hogs.

    P.S. I wouldn’t move the hogilo. Sometimes they won’t use hog houses, etc. which we provide until they become ‘part of the furniture’. Find somewhere suitable and leave it there, would be my advice. But there may be other reasons why she didn’t visit. I wouldn’t have thought just moving it would put her off visiting. Don’t forget the hogs eat bugs, so if it is providing a food source, maybe that is good too!

    P.p.s. gestation period about 4.5 weeks but can be a bit variable. But it’s very difficult to assess when they actually become pregnant. The courtship ‘circling’ doesn’t always lead to mating and even if you see a hedgehog mounting another, you can’t make assumptions. Peak time for hoglets being born is June and July.

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