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Home Forums Champions’ chat WHAT TO FEED HEDGEHOGS

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    DO Offer
    – Fresh water 24 hours a day
    – Good quality hedgehog food
    – Cat, kitten, or dog food
    – Cat or kitten biscuits

    DON’T offer
    – Bread and milk
    – Mealworms, sunflower hearts and nuts to the exclusion of anything else. Mealworms are linked to Metabolic Bone Disease, as are sunflower hearts and nuts, to some extent. Mealworms can also become addictive and should only be offered very occasionally in very small amounts.

    For further information please see:


    Hi, I’m new to the forum and started my hedgehog feeding when I found one eating the dried mealworms I put out for the birds one evening. After researching hedgehog diets I realised that mealworms were not recommended due to low calcium levels. The problem I have is that the hedgehogs are not much interested in eating the dog food and Spikes hedgehog food I put out instead! Has anyone tried dried calci-worms? Which are a similar price to the mealworms on eBay and have a much better calcium/phosphorus ratio. Also is there any reason why one couldn’t add a calcium balancer to the diet such as Nutrobal or similar?


    Hi Buddy42 – welcome to the forum.

    My consideration on your question would be that if your local hogs aren’t taking the dog food or Spikes (are both food types hard?) – then they probably aren’t too hungry – more like they are taking the mealworms because they are available and delicious to hogs. have you tried the semi-moist Spikes? are you putting water out with the food?
    I’ve not heard of the calci-worms – but it sounds like it might be encouraging the worm preference in their eating habits and not providing the rest of the nutrition in their diet either. The hedgehog specific foods are balanced and targeted towards hog nutritional needs, so they really are the best ones to go for.

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    Hi Buddy42

    Welcome to the Forum!

    The hedgehogs there might not be eating the Spikes food or dog food because it is so different to the bird food and mealworms that they have been picking up. There are some hedgehog foods which they are more likely to take to if they’ve been used to mealworms, such as ‘I Love Hedgehogs’. (There are other similar brands available). This has actually recently changed the few mealworms they used to include in their ‘recipe’ for calci-worms and made some other changes to keep up with latest research. It seems to be just as popular with the hogs as it was before.

    The problem, as I see it, with feeding calci-worms on their own, as opposed to in a properly balanced mix is that the hogs will be missing out on other nutrients which they need. As Jan Marie suggests, it’s better to go for a properly balanced mix. For similar reasons nutrobal etc. is probably not a good idea.

    It’s a good idea to leave water out 24 hours a day. Large plant saucers are ideal. The birds will probably make good use of them too!

    Good luck and let us know how you get on.


    Hi Jan-Marie and Nic,

    Thanks for your replies. I wasn’t suggesting feeding only calci worms to my hogs. My idea was to try and wean them onto the dog food and Spikes mix (which is the semi moist one by the way) and thought that calci-worms would be a better way of doing this than the mealworms. The dog food I use is poultry based and moist and I always have a bowl of water for them. In fact several around the garden. I also had to build a hog feeding shelter as we get both foxes and cats in the garden on a regular basis! This may be another factor that they’re not used to, I watched him/her last night and he/she seemed reluctant to go in.
    I will keep you posted on developments. Cheers



    I use ark wildlife Hedgehog food. They also make a dry muesli that the hedgehogs love but it is not recommended that it is fed as a complete diet, so I add a small amount to the Original Hedgehog food. Both foods are dry so I add some warm water .

    I am aiming to reduce the muesli with a view to removing it completely, maybe your Hedgehogs might like that combination too ?


    Hi Gr8Mums,
    Thanks for that. Not seen the Ark wildlife food. I did have some success last night though. The dog food/Spikes mix in the feeding station has been mostly eaten this morning. I laid a small trail of dried mealworms into the box and sprinkled a few on top (cunning)! So I am now more optimistic about weaning them off mealworms completely. I do have problems with neighbourhood cats though despite having a large dog!


    Sounds promising Buddy42,

    A funny thing with hedgehogs is that whilst they are mostly solitary creatures, I’m fairly convinced that they communicate with their own kind quite a lot – and possibly not in ways that we might expect to see or hear.
    We have found that once a hog has found a food source – even if not keen itself – within a short space of time, the numbers of visiting hogs will increase – this can only be by ‘word of mouth’ so to speak or some communication method between them.
    we have also experienced that in overwintering hogs – we tend to use large stacked housing units to increase capacity and reduce volume they occupy between them – the hogs don’t openly communicate in a medium that we could see or hear – but their behaviours suggest that they know of the presence of the others and develop similar habits in some examples. I have had to conclude this as being shared tactics between them, but any communication between them is not obvious.
    There is far more to these little critters than we know – but then – they have been in existence for far longer than we have as a species and have survived much more than we have. Lets hope they have a future inspite of our ongoing efforts to destroy their environment.


    I started to feed our hogs a few weeks ago, I started with dry cat food, then changed to Hedgehog food when I found that it was the hogs I was feeding (not the neighbours cat!) I was only feeding one to start with, the numbers are increasing each week, I am finding it difficult to distinguish between the different hogs, but know I have at least four visiting now. Two always arrive at the same time, but I have two feeding stations set up and we have frequent visitations during the night. I bought a packet of hedgehog niblets as a treat to sprinkle on the food, but they do not like it. I vary the food I buy, I was surprised to see that even Tesco sell it now, though I have not tried that one. When do Hedgehogs hibernate? Will they still come out occasionally for food during the winter?


    Very interesting comments Jan-Marie,

    I’m sure wild creatures communicate in all sorts of ways that we don’t understand. A kind of hedgehog social media as it were!
    I also totally agree with you on the destruction of the environment front.
    In my neighbourhood everybody is busy paving over every bit of greenery they can find so they can park their Range Rovers on it! It drives me crazy. I bet they’re all looking at my garden wondering why I don’t tidy it up better. It is a bit of a jungle but hey, there’s plenty of wildlife in it.😁

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    My feeling is that hedgehogs ‘communicate’ to some extent by scent. So that the hedgehogs smell the trail of other hedgehogs coming for food and so follow it to see why they went that way. In the same way, they are able to recognise each other, so that the males develop a sort of ‘pecking order’ because they can recognise the other male hogs. That is one of the reasons that I believe the excessive marking of hogs which sometimes happens can be detrimental to them, because it can mask their natural scent.

    Females also seem to have some other females they will tolerate quite happily, and others that they will nudge, impatiently, out of the way – so that they also clearly recognise each other.

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    Hi hollydog86

    It’s good to hear that you have hogs visiting there. I’m not sure what the hog niblets are, but really the food we put out for them is their treat. It should always, only be supplementary to what they can find in the wild.

    My advice, once you have found some food the hogs like, is to stick to it, otherwise you might find you waste a lot of food!

    Ideally, we would all improve the habitat for hedgehogs in our gardens, so that in the long run, they will no longer be so dependent on supplementary feeding. That, together with linking gardens by making hog holes in fences, is really important for the hogs.

    Hibernation time is always a bit variable. The males tend to disappear first – they don’t have the worry of hoglet duties to attend to! The females do all the rearing of the young. Some males will disappear at some time in September but they usually emerge from hibernation earlier than the females as well. With the females it depends, to some extent on whether they still have hoglets and so hibernation time for them can be quite variable but up to roughly 2 months later.

    Hogs do apparently sometimes wake up during hibernation and sometimes even change hibernation nests. But probably for quite brief periods. Some hogs choose not to hibernate at all. Last winter I had a hoglet here, who, despite being large enough to hibernate, decided not to. The only days he failed to visit were two, when the snow was too deep! Quite a few people do leave some food out for hedgehogs such as that one all winter, but by no means everyone does. I suggest, especially, leaving water available all winter, if possible, if nothing else.

    If you are interested in learning to identify the hedgehogs naturally, I wrote some information which you can find via

    Good luck with the hogs and happy hog watching!


    Hi Nic
    Thank you for the information on Hedgehog identification, I will try and see if I can look for more identification marks. last night I heard a rustle and I noticed 2 smaller hogs emerging from under my garden shed, at the end of the garden, I think they could be sleeping there, a larger hog emerged from under the fence nearer the house. which is where I thought they were all coming from.
    My camera is set up to watch their comings and goings, but it is still difficult to work out exact numbers. They appear from all directions. There are at least 2 large hogs and 2 smaller ones.
    Our mature garden is very wildlife friendly, a wildlife garden in a quiet corner, with a small shallow pond, A log pile, and lots of nettles and wild flowers, my flower borders will never win prizes for tidiness! I have an area between my potting shed and the Garden shed where it is a haven for creepy crawlies and bugs, near where the hogs emerged from, not very tidy with garden pots stored, and lots of weeds. but a safe area for the hogs to explore. The hog house and feeding station are set up near the end of the garden in a quiet spot under large shrubs. Hopefully they will continue to visit our garden, we do try and make them welcome.
    The hedgehog niblets are ‘Mr Johnson’s ‘A tasty blend of nutritious dried insects & roasted suet that hedgehogs will love’ (A complementary feed for hedghogs) I will not buy it again as they do not like it and I think it is an unnecessary waste of money. I will stick to the recognised brands of hedgehog dried food.

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    Hi hollydog86

    Your garden sounds really brilliant for hogs. No wonder you have them there! They could do with a few more like that. Hopefully they will choose to hibernate there as well.

    The only other suggestion I would make is maybe to provide more water sources in other parts of your garden. Especially if you are feeding dry food. I know the hogs here make good use of water sources both ends of my garden. I use large plant saucers, so they don’t tip them over so easily. I have one visitor at the moment who always puts both front feet in the water before drinking!

    Re. The treats. There always seems to be someone ready to make a lot of money out of people’s love of animals. I’m not sure suet is a good idea anyway. Quote from:
    [“Hedgehog metabolism is geared to the digestion of high protein invertebrate prey and unrestricted access to high-fat foods can result in fatty liver disease, obesity and coronary complications as is seen among humans.”]
    But I do wonder whether the treat people are targeting the different type of hedgehog which people are keeping as pets these days.

    Re. Identifying. It’s easier in real time to see the smaller details on the hogs, but if you have a reasonably good camera, you should be able to see quite a lot. It can be very rewarding. There is one old female hog who I have known for several years, and seeing her return from hibernation has always been such a treat. Stick to it and it will get easier with time.

    Good luck.


    Hi guys,
    I have finally managed to get my visiting hog to eat Spikes semi moist nibbles and a bit of dog food by sprinkling them with dried calci-worms and gradually reducing the amount of these over time. He still seems reluctant to investigate the feeding station so I had to leave the bowl just outside and hope the neighbourhood cats and foxes didn’t find it. I did see him eating out of it tonight, so that’s a result.
    Thinking of buying a wildlife camera with night vision to see what happens during the night.

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