29th March 2018 at 7:57 pm #8887
I feed the hedgehogs who frequent our large garden / wood on mealworms. They will only eat mealworms, wont touch any other food advice I have tried. I would rather they survive than die of starvation which has happened in the past. Surely it is better to risk bone density problems than have them die of lack of food, ??29th March 2018 at 9:52 pm #8890
It might seem that way until you look into it more deeply. If you are feeding mealworms you are potentially encouraging the hedgehogs to fill up on mealworms and not to eat natural food which would be much better for them. Also if they are really on the verge of starving, they will eat something else. I suspect that the hogs you thought died of starvation may have had other underlying problems. If they eat only mealworms that could cause them to die of starvation, in that they would not be getting sufficient nutrients for their survival. Becoming addicted to mealworms can definitely be life threatening to hedgehogs. The young ones, in particular, can become horribly deformed as a result of eating mealworms and probably suffer a great deal of pain. I take it you have seen the Vale Wildlife Hospital video including the image of a young hedgehog with metabolic bone disease.
So in answer to your question. No I don’t think it is worth risking them getting bone density problems (sounds so insignificant described as such) nor malnutrition by feeding only mealworms.
The best thing you can do for the hedgehogs is to improve and increase their habitat so that they can find their own natural wild food and water. You say you already have a large garden/wood, which sounds brilliant. I think all of us could improve our gardens for hogs in some way and if you haven’t seen it already, it is worth looking at https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/help-hedgehogs/helpful-garden-features/
and of course make holes in fences and encourage others to do likewise.31st March 2018 at 10:38 am #8910
Thanks for the reply and information. A few years ago I took 4 hoglets to the Hedgehog hospital nearby. They were out in daylight and malnourished. I had only one fatality last autumn and again it was underweight. I will lower the amount and frequency of the mealworms but pre-hibernation I cant see them starve. I caught slugs for them and left them out but the hedgehogs didnt touch them.31st March 2018 at 1:05 pm #8914
Whilst I admire your dedication, slugs aren’t their favourite thing to eat and I don’t think they like the larger ones anyway. Luckily it is the smaller ones that reputedly cause most damage in the garden, but they are much harder to collect.
It must have been distressing finding the malnourished hoglets, but mealworms are not the answer. You suggest feeding the hedgehogs mealworms pre-hibernation. They will simply not put on the right sort of fat they need for hibernation on a diet of mealworms. This very likely would lead to them not surviving. If you continue to feed them mealworms, you will be doing them more harm than good. They should only ever be used in very small quantities as a very occasional snack. As you will have seen from the video, many recommend not feeding them at all and that is probably safest. You have heard about the dangers. A disabled hedgehog is unlikely to survive for long in the wild.
If you want to feed hedgehogs, give them cat/dog food, cat/kitten biscuits, or hedgehog food and no mealworms. if they are hungry they will eat it. If you are still providing mealworms, they will very likely show a preference for those. It is like humans with crisps and chocolate.
This time of year is a good opportunity to offer them something more nutritious. They will be hungry when they return from hibernation and if you offer them some nutritious food they will likely tuck into it. Please don’t be tempted to give them any mealworms at all, or you will be starting the cycle off again.
Please always provide water.
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