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- This topic has 35 replies, 12 voices, and was last updated 1 year, 1 month ago by Nic.
4th March 2020 at 8:54 am #21373
Hi, I started feeding birds after Xmas I did not know that there was a hedgehog around and now I belive he is addicted to meal worms. I have stopped feeding the birds at night and started in the morning. Now the hedgehog will only meal the meal worms. Iv tried spikes food and wet dog food also treid spiking just a few on the food to try and entice him to eat. But he just snuffles them off, any advise on how to get them to eat other foods. Thanks xx4th March 2020 at 10:06 am #21374
Once they get a taste for something hedgehogs will sometimes refuse to eat anything else for a few days, but if they are hungry they will eventually eat something else.
Ideally you need to make sure that the hog doesn’t have access to the mealworms left by the birds. How do you feed mealworms to the birds? i.e. if on the ground, perhaps you could put them into (for instance) straight sided bowls and maybe on trays to catch any spills. You could also feed them on a bird table, where hopefully the slightly raised edges would minimise spills. I have some tops of bird tables (i.e. not on poles) which can be put on the ground if you are worried about ground feeding birds. They are quite happy to use them. Then it’s easy to clean up what has been left.
Hogs who have been accustomed to eating mealworms (i.e. dried food) won’t always immediately take to wet cat/dog food. Have you tried cat/kitten biscuits? Or one of the other varieties of hog food. Some people do as you have done and just add a very few mealworms and then gradually reduce them, but if that hasn’t worked, I would just leave cat/dog/hog food on it’s own. As said, if the hog is hungry it will eat it. The important thing is to make sure it doesn’t have any other access to mealworms. But give it time (at least a week, if necessary) and the hog will get used to the new offering.
There are beginning to be available an alternative to mealworms called calci-worms, which when produced well have a higher level of calcium in relation to phosphorous. (One problem with mealworms being that they have higher levels of phosphorous than calcium, causing calcium to be leached from the bones of the hogs). They are looking promising, but the jury is still slightly out, as with any new food, but you might like to think about feeding the birds calci-worms instead of mealworms. They are probably more expensive but apparently good for the birds, having higher calcium levels – especially at nesting time when they use a lot of calcium for their eggs. Just make sure that any you buy have a higher level of calcium than phosphorous. I understand that if the calci-worms are not fed on a good diet themselves, the calcium levels are not so good. So that cheaper ones may have been fed on a poorer diet and have less calcium.
Personally I would not feed too many calci-worms at a time to hogs – you could be exchanging one addiction for another, even though it appears (currently) to be a less harmful one. But less harmful for them to eat calci-worms spilt by the birds than mealworms.
Good luck and happy hog watching.4th March 2020 at 10:18 am #21375
Hi ya, thank you for your advice since I found out that they are bad for the gigs iv gone to feeding the birds in the morning there are never any mealies left as they all get pecked!! I’ll check just in case and remove any thst I find.
I will get some kitten biccies and try him on those. Thank you again 🙂 I’m new to hedgehog world!!4th March 2020 at 9:34 pm #21383
My issue is slightly different food change behavior. Since we found out we have hedgehogs visiting our garden some years ago, we started feeding wet dog food. However consumption increased to 1 can per night (as until last year, visitors were two to 3 per night), so it becamr quite expensive. We tried changing to dry dog food, but it wasn’t a hit. Thinking of trying again, using Nic’s advice for trying for one week, until they get used to it.. 🙂4th March 2020 at 11:25 pm #21384
Hi The Gallaghers
I’m not familiar with dried dog food, other than a sort of cereal based one (from years ago), which I can’t imagine hogs liking. We more often seem to hear about dried cat/kitten food on the Forum. Make sure that any food has good nutritional value, plenty of protein and not more phosphorous than calcium.
But feeding is supposed to only be supplementary to the wild food hogs can find for themselves, so you could theoretically leave out smaller amounts. Sometimes quality makes up for quantity.
I sometimes think we concentrate too much on the Forum about feeding hogs and not enough on creating better habitat for them, so they can find wild food. So you might like to think about improving habitat as well. I’m sure most of us could make improvements in that respect – I certainly could!5th March 2020 at 9:05 am #21388
Hi Nic, thank you again, always so helful!
We will try reducing quantity of wet food – maybe half a tin a night. Indeed, we always look out for a balanced diet as recommended here and in other sites about feeding wild hogs.
We know this is only supplementary, and we all need to make a nice habitat around. Our garden have the hedgehog holes in fence, and several untidy areas (logs/leaves behind shed, untidy under hedges), and we know hogs do forage around by finding empty snail shells. We don’t have a large garden, but it hopefully is nice to keep them happy when they visit 🙂5th March 2020 at 3:37 pm #21390
Hi The Gallaghers
Your garden sounds brilliant, although the empty snail shells may not be the hogs. They don’t tend to eat many of them – a bit tricky getting at the edible bit. But, it’s possible you have a snail specialist there! Beetles, caterpillars and earthworms seem to make up the bulk of an average hog’s diet in the wild. So not using chemicals is quite important.
Logs, leaves and hedges sound great for beetles. I accidentally discovered that they also like turf banks when I was making a new flower bed once. I left a small pile of turf on the path for a few days, before deciding what to do with it and when I came to move it lots of beetles had moved in. That solved the problem of what to do with it and I now have a few small beetle banks hidden away in corners! My garden isn’t very big either, so everything has to be done on quite a small scale.6th March 2020 at 6:53 pm #21391
Ohh I loved the idea of turf! We by chance are making a flower bed in some weeks, so will know what to do then (scatter them behind shed) for beetles to move in and hopefully keep more food options for the hogs (I keep saying plural, hopefully all the 3 usual visitors return this year again, but so far only one around..) 😉6th March 2020 at 10:58 pm #21393
Don’t worry, it’s still early for the hogs to return. I only had my first returner a couple of days ago.
What a coincidence that you are making a new flower bed! I would make piles of at least 3 high, but if you make higher piles they take up less space. If you put the grass bit upside down, it doesn’t grow quite so much.15th March 2021 at 10:47 pm #29763
Hi, looking at what you have said about calciworms they are not recommended by @hedgehogcabin – Hedgehog Cabin
Now word has got out of the catastrophic damage mealworms cause, sellers are switching to calciworms. Please tell them to stop. Cat/dog food is COMPLETE, meaning it’s nutritionally balanced; nothing should be added.16th March 2021 at 1:16 am #29764
I had a look at Hedgehog Cabin site and couldn’t see any mention of calci-worms in their feeding section – only the dangers of mealworms. Perhaps if there is other information elsewhere about them on their site, you could let us know what it is or where it is. Or if as I suspect it’s on Twitter give us the link of the actual comment. I just had a quick look and didn’t come across anything about calci-worms.
But you will have noticed if you read the above that the suggestion was to feed calciworms to birds instead of mealworms. So that if any fell on the ground they may not be so bad for the hogs as mealworms. Not to feed them to the hedgehogs. Personally I have always been wary of calci-worms until there is more scientific information available about them.16th March 2021 at 9:59 am #29766
Wilko have been selling calci worms for a while now, 500g for £4:50 which is a good price I think. Also available under their more accurate name of black soldier fly larvae in Poundstretcher but not as good value and in small packs of under 100g for £1. I’ve been feeding hogs with them since last year. I include a few mealworms now and again as a treat but they eat the calci worms no problem. They also like the chewy cat sticks, tried several sources and they always get eaten first. I avoid the fish flavours though.
After reading the scientific papers about calcium deficiency my conclusion was that the reported issues with hedgehogs have probably stemmed from people keeping them as pets (the african pygmy ones) and feeding them almost exclusively on mealworms which has inevitably caused problems. If you feed a variety of foods, including the balanced pet foods, then its highly unlikely that a wild hog will get such an imbalanced diet to cause calcium deficiency.
Keeping them for long periods in captivity, such as in a sanctuary to recover from injury or overwintering, is a different situation to a freely roaming wild animal and in those circumstances the best plan would be to make sure they get a known balanced food like kitten pellets all the time.16th March 2021 at 12:31 pm #29772
The problem with mealworms was not confined to hedgehogs kept in captivity. A while back, when more people were feeding mealworms to the wild hedgehogs, there were frequent reports from various rescues about very ill and/or deformed hedgehogs. It’s similar to marking, give some people and inch and they’ll take a mile. Some people who visited the forum were feeding mealworms, exclusively, to wild hedgehogs, in large amounts. Potentially as mealworms became cheaper, more were fed and the quality was worse.
Wild hedgehogs can become addicted to mealworms and seek them out in preference to other foods. So that if you feed them small amounts and a few other people in the area do likewise, they may go on a ‘mealworm crawl’ from one source to another. Not only will it be filling the hogs up with ‘junk food’ in preference to something more nutritious but there is also the problem of the calcium and phosphorous ratios. Personally, I think it is best to cut out mealworms entirely.
The potential problem with calci-worms, as I understand it, is that the calcium levels may be too high and cause other problems for the hedgehogs – reportedly kidney and heart problems. Feeding calci-worms as a treat, it seems to me, could potentially be changing one harmful addiction for another. Until there is more reliable scientific information about calci-worms in relation to feeding them to hedgehogs, I wouldn’t want to risk feeding them, other than in very small quantities as part of a properly balanced mix.
Wild hedgehogs do not need any extra treats. Offering them supplementary food in the first place is treat enough.
If we are going to offer wild hedgehogs supplementary food, it is our responsibility to make it as good for them as we possibly can. It is entirely possible that some hedgehogs rely entirely on food that is offered to them by humans. There is as much need for the quality of food which is offered to wild hedgehogs to be good, as it is for that offered to hedgehogs which are being cared for by a carer/rehabilitator. Apart from anything else, the wild hedgehogs may be eating it for much longer.16th March 2021 at 2:00 pm #29775
This is interesting, do you have the citations for the rescue centre data?16th March 2021 at 7:16 pm #29779
They are many and varied. If you type metabolic bone disease into Google or similar you are likely to find some.
There is this one video, from Vale Wildlife Hospital, which I have a link to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBjUhQN4STc Be aware that this video contains potentially distressing images.
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