WHAT TO FEED HEDGEHOGS 2018
6th May 2018 at 2:17 pm #9436
– Fresh water 24 hours a day.
– Good quality hedgehog food,
– Cat, kitten, ferret or dog food,
– Cat or kitten biscuits.
This is really all they need.
– 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.22nd May 2018 at 8:26 pm #9686
Our hedgehog that hibernated in the hog house we built vacated it a couple of months ago but returns to our garden every night for the food we leave out. I always leave some cat biscuits and fresh water each evening and some nights the hog doesn’t take much and other nights, it eats the lot. My question is am I doing more harm than good by leaving food out during these summer months ? Will the hogs become too reliant on it ? I don’t know if I am doing the right thing by proving food at this time or not. Thanks.22nd May 2018 at 9:19 pm #9687
That’s a really good question, Lisa. I sometimes wonder, myself, whether some hogs are getting too much artificial food as opposed to natural food. Obviously natural food is best for them, but as things stand, there is a question mark over whether there is enough suitable habitat for them.
Ideally we all need to be improving and increasing habitat for the hogs and that is really what I see Hedgehog Street as trying to achieve. I usually only leave food out for 2 or 3 hours a night. This is a compromise which seems to have worked well in the past and for many years there has been a good population of hogs in this area. Unfortunately numbers seem to have gone down recently. This has coincided with my hearing about more people feeding them. Whilst I’m not sure how much can be read into that, what they are feeding could make a difference. For instance, if someone is feeding large quantities of mealworms, with their very poor nutritional value, it could mean that certain hogs are not putting on sufficient of the two types of fat they need for hibernation and so not survive. That is in addition to the problems with Metabolic Bone Disease.
It is thought that hogs don’t become dependant on the food we put out, but I have also read that hogs can suffer from similar problems to humans from too much fatty food, and cat food was quoted as an example. So, for me, the jury is out on how good for them the quantity of artificial food they are getting is. It may not only be one place they are getting artificial food.
There are certain times of year when it is more difficult for hogs to find food in the wild. These include pre and post hibernation and in very dry weather, when access to earthworms, for instance, is more difficult. Also, there was one hog here who didn’t hibernate and clearly, at that time of year, there wasn’t much wild food around so I did leave food out all night for him then. Water is essential 24 hours a day. A dehydrated hog may come out during the daytime and it could be a life saver.
Sorry I haven’t been able to give you a definitive yes/no answer, but, as things stand, I’m not completely convinced there is one. I would love the situation to be that there was no need for hogs to have any supplementary food, but we are not there now. But feeding should be supplementary.26th May 2018 at 9:19 pm #9750
That is actually very helpful Nic. I am not leaving cat food (in case flies get to it) so leave good quality cat biscuits instead (and sometimes a chopped boiled egg that they seem to like) and always a fresh bowl of water that I have noticed does go down every night. So at least I know they are visiting to have a drink even if they don’t always take the food. I guess after not seeing them in 20 years, I just want them to keep returning now we have them and if I am helping keep one or two alive, that’s good enough for me.2nd June 2018 at 9:47 am #9802
It’s lovely that you have hogs back after so long, and I can understand you wanting them to continue visiting. Personally, I would give the boiled egg a miss and just stick to the cat biscuits, but leave water available 24 hours a day – even more important if you are feeding dry food.
Good luck. Hope you continue to enjoy having hogs around.1st July 2018 at 10:17 am #10253
Please leave water available 24 hours a day, especially in this hot and dry weather. Try to leave some near cover and preferably in the shade, in case a thirsty hog comes out during the day.24th September 2018 at 12:46 pm #12032
Just posted this on lasts years conversation. Oops….
We have 3 regular visitors each night and, while we know that some foods are bad, we mix the food.
Currently it is a handful of decent quality cat biscuits, small handful of peanuts, and a very small sprinkling of mealworms.
Initially we were just putting out lots of mealworms and they loved them, but after reading of the bone problems we stopped. However once we started putting out the cat biscuits, everything got eaten by the local cats and a young male fox. So we put a sprinkling of mealworms back in, and the cats and fox now won’t touch it at all….. they smell too bad i guess (?).
Is this acceptable? We’re still trying to find the right balance as they least prefer the cat biscuits24th September 2018 at 2:27 pm #12034
Personally, I would cut out the mealworms, especially at this time of year when there may be hoglets around, because they can more easily become addicted to them. Some of the hedgehog foods use calciworms instead of mealworms, so it might be worth trying them. Peanuts are also implicated in the adverse calcium/phosphorous ratio, as are sunflower hearts, so I would give them a miss too. They aren’t as bad as mealworms and ok in a properly balanced hedgehog mix, but in larger quantities either individually or combined are not a good idea.
I can sympathise with the cat problem, although, luckily not foxes, so far. There are all sorts of suggestions dotted around the forum on how to keep cats out of feeding stations. Some people use see through under bed plastic storage boxes, so they can still see the hogs. My choice would be to use a sheet of perspex, or the like, on bricks so that it is high enough for the hogs but too low for cats and foxes. It has the advantage that you can see them, but also some hogs just prefer eating out of doors and they seem to find that sort of arrangement ok. It also, of course, keeps the rain off! You will need to put bricks on top to weigh it down, especially with foxes.
If the hogs aren’t too keen on cat food, there are various hog foods around, some of which cats aren’t supposed to like. Although, I have found there is always one! I use ‘I Love Hedgehogs’ which has recently changed it’s recipe in line with the latest scientific knowledge. Most cats don’t eat it. It seems to go down well with the hogs here. I have been using it for years (even before the change in recipe) and the population visiting remained stable for many years, until recently, when I understand other people are also feeding. One of the hedgehogs, in particular, which I got to know, must have been 5 years old this year. I think Ark Wildlife do a similar hog food (also which cats aren’t supposed to like) but I don’t have any personal experience of that.
Good luck. I hope you manage to find some compromise that the hogs like and either the cats and foxes don’t, or you can deter them somehow.25th September 2018 at 4:23 pm #12070
Cheers Nic, some good advice.
Last night we just put the cat biscuits and a very small sprinkling of the mealworms. From the camera everything got eaten* and the cat again gave it a sniff and walked away. Will see how few mealworms we can get away with before the cat starts.
We’d looked at hedgehog food and its sad to admit, but the cost it really prohibitive. I guess its worth shopping around as that was just the price in a garden centre
*down to two visitors, sadly we seem to have lost a hog after the storm last week….. we’ll see.9th October 2018 at 7:31 pm #12372
On the subject of the various hog foods on the market we feed ‘THE RIGHT FOOD FOR HEDGEHOGS’ available from larger branches of Tescos, I believe Morrisons also sell it. At £2 for a 400g bag it is much cheaper than similar products from garden centres and pet shops, we find it very good and the local cats do not like it!
We always leave a bowl of water nearby as they drink a surprisingly large amount, we’ve seen individuals drinking for around 10 minutes at a time and recently they seem to have been more interested in water than food.9th October 2018 at 9:25 pm #12375
I would be inclined to check out with whoever makes that food, that they are following the latest scientific knowledge about hedgehogs dietary needs. i.e. sufficient protein and correct calcium/phosphorous ratio. Cheapest isn’t always best. Hedgehogs are inclined to drink quite a lot, but 10 minutes continuously for one hog sounds quite a long time and makes me wonder whether it’s something in the food which is causing that. Are you able to tell what is in it?9th October 2018 at 9:56 pm #12377
Its marketed by Pets Choice Ltd and claims on the packaging to be formulated with the help of Wildlife Hospitals with the right balance of carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals for healthy hogs.
Composition: Poultry Meat Meal, Wheat, Wheatfeed, Whole Maize, Rice, Poultry Oil, Brewers Yeast, Whole Linseed.
plus a long list of Analytical Constituents, Additives and Trace Elements.
We were assuming they drink so much because rather like a cat they are not very efficient at lapping, the water level certainly doesn’t go down very fast.
I think the food is OK, it claims to be better than feeding cat or dog food.10th October 2018 at 8:40 am #12380
It may be that it is ok, but I would still have that conversation. I certainly did with the makers of the food I offer, to satisfy myself that they were keeping up to date with the latest knowledge etc. The trouble with hog food is that anyone can decide to make it and make certain claims about it. But, which wildlife hospitals, etc. do they mean. Also, I’m not sure how they can make the claim that it’s better than feeding cat or dog food. What is that claim based on? What is the rationale for including whole linseed? (For humans, as I understand it, it is sometimes used as a bulking agent and source of fibre, and the nutrients are more easily released if it’s crushed) how does that relate to hedgehogs natural high protein diet? etc. There may be perfectly good reasons and to be honest, I don’t know all the answers – but they should!
My feeling is that all hedgehog food manufacturers need to be aware that we want the very best for the hogs and by asking the questions, we are helping to ensure that they are doing their very best to provide it. It’s easy to make claims, but they all need to be able to back them up and someone needs to make sure that they can. That’s us, I think! I don’t think hedgehog lovers are necessarily well known for their pushiness, but maybe we all need to be a bit more pushy for the benefit of the hogs!
I agree, hedgehogs don’t seem to be very efficient lappers, but 10 minutes non-stop is still a long time, in my experience. I always think they do look incredibly cute when they are drinking, though – especially the hoglets!10th October 2018 at 8:22 pm #12388
Thanks for the advice Nic, there is an email address on the package so I will try asking some questions …11th October 2018 at 1:01 pm #12405
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