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How much food should I leave?

Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings How much food should I leave?

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    I realised back in April that I had a hedgehog in the garden but not wanting it to get too used to me I only occasionally left out cat food for it. Towards the end of the summer I saw 2 hogs circling around each other and one day noticed a hedgehog with leaves in its mouth in broad daylight taking the leaves underneath our summerhouse. At end of September I noticed 2 baby hogs and because they seemed so small I was desperate to feed them up before hibernation time. Now, every evening at dusk I put out 2 large handfuls of 3 different types of hedgehog food. Within 15 minutes, Mum and her 2 babies come to eat together whilst a 4th very large hedgehog comes later and eats separately. I am pleased to say that in this short time the babies now look big enough to hibernate, but I am concerned that they appear to eat all the food I give them and go back to bed under the summerhouse each night. It’s now 1st November, so I guess they will be feeling sleepy, but will they learn how to hunt properly? Am I doing the right thing?

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    Hi Valie

    You are so lucky to have had hoglets in your garden! Glad to hear that they look big enough for hibernation.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about feeding too much, especially at this time of year when they need to be putting on weight for hibernation. Not sure whether you meant 2 handfuls of a mixture of 3 different hog foods, but that doesn’t sound excessive. Mother hog will probably have been taking the little ones foraging as well. But some of it is instinct, so that I imagine if they survive hibernation they will come out in the Spring (when hopefully there is more wild food around) and begin to forage for themselves.

    Some hogs, and I suspect mostly hoglets (but not sure if there’s been any research about that, yet) decide not to hibernate. Then it’s also important to keep offering them some food, because there won’t be so much around in the wild. It isn’t only food availability, or lack of it, which makes them hibernate, it’s a complex mixture of things. For instance last year I had two hoglets visiting – about the same size (possibly siblings), both had the same access to supplementary food – one hibernated but the other decided not to, despite being big enough. Don’t forget to always leave a water source available as well, all day every day, including winter.

    You will probably find that some of the hoglets, at least, disperse a bit, so that they might not all continue to visit your garden as they grow up. So don’t worry if that happens. But equally, others may appear from elsewhere.

    Good luck. I hope they all have a safe hibernation time and return safe and well in the Spring.


    Thank you, Nick. I only give 2 handfuls of mixed food each evening. I am now concerned because I havnt seen either of the 2 large hedgehogs for a week and have heard rumours from neighbour that a hedgehog has been seen killed on the road.
    Last night I was late putting out the food and – as I turned round to walk back indoors I heard a noise and one of the babies was already eating it – obviously waiting for me. The second handful of food is put inside a homemade feeding Box and that also had a small hedgehog inside within seconds of putting down the food. I am so worried that they are now orphans so will be putting out more food now. I also intend buying a camera trap to see who is about. One thing has pleased me – a fox went bounding up to one baby and he rolled up and the fox pricked his nose and ran off!

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    Hi Valie

    The hogs may have gone to hibernate now. Once the young ones are weaned and eating food, Mother will leave them to their own devices so don’t worry if she isn’t around. Once her responsibilities are over she will probably have concentrated on putting on weight for herself ready for hibernation.

    It’s always sad to hear about any hog who has been killed on the road, but it may not be a hog who has been visiting you. Unfortunately with there being so many dangers around for hogs, it’s a worrying thing being a hog lover. All we can do is our best for them and the rest is largely out of our hands. But to make up for all that worry, they give us a lot of pleasure.

    Clever hoglet rolling up when a fox approached! Just what’s needed. It won’t do any harm to give them extra food. I sometimes think they must have built in clocks – knowing when the food is put out!

    Good luck with the camera.


    I recently rescued nine hoglets and still have three large Hogs feeding nightly. They are eating a dish of Spike biscuits and two pots of Sheba cat meat.
    I’m using my Trail Cam and it is definitely the Hogs eating the food.
    It’s time they went to sleep lol


    the hospital, my two I rescued recently, gives them a lot of food, more than what I thought – so I shouldn’t worry at this time of the year, if you put out more – after all if they don’t eat it, you could just chuck it (esp wet food) or top it up the next day (if dry food).

    I haven’t got many hogs visiting, just the autumn juveniles now (who I think have reached the right weight – they hide when I decide on the nights I’m gonna bring my scales out) – have been eating the whole lot – I’m putting out a little bit more than I did in the summer and I had loads of adult hogs then (at least 6 minimum – possibly double, can’t be sure) – and every night it’s been a completely empty dish not even a crumb. Last few nights only a layer of cat biscuits left, all the spikes gone though – but no physical sign of a hedgehog and camera didn’t pick any on saturday for the first time I got the camera – so think it’s the hog living in the hedgehog home that’s now eating it all.

    I learnt quite quickly how greedy they are, I was pretty shocked.


    Thanks for your replies:
    In April my hedgehogs woke up and I spotted one baby in the feeding box whilst the adult appeared to be standing guard. since that day I have only seen the one baby hedgehog each night. (S)He appears from under the summerhouse at 9pm each night – and goes straight into the feeding box. According to my camera the hog comes out several times during the night but always stays in my back garden. I do have a hedgehog highway into my front garden and then into the neighbour’s garden, but my spiky friend won’t use this in spite of me laying a food trail into the next garden.
    Is this normal? He (she) seems terrified to go far from his home, under the summerhouse, constantly returns there and relies on me feeding him.
    When digging the garden this week I discoverd a total lack of worms, slugs or snails, so even if he wanted to hunt, there is nothing for him.
    I worry about him as he just doesn’t seem Independant.

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    Hi Valie

    It’s good to hear you have at least one hog which has returned.

    First cameras aren’t totally reliable at telling everything that’s happening. So it’s possible the hog is going places which may not have been captured on ‘film’. There is a delay between when movement is detected and the camera triggers, as well as a time gap between images. One way to know for sure whether a hog has been somewhere, is to use a footprint tunnel.

    Whilst hogs do eat earthworms and to a lesser extent slugs, they normally eat mostly beetles and caterpillars. So the hog could still be getting some natural food in your garden. Making sure you don’t use any chemicals in the garden, encourages more wild food.

    If it’s a young hog, it might not have ‘spread it’s wings’ yet, but may become more confident as time goes on. I would keep feeding and providing water and it will probably gradually explore further afield as time goes on.

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