WHAT TO FEED HEDGEHOGS 2018
16th October 2018 at 2:09 pm #12492
I received the following response to the questions I put to Pets Choice, manufacturers of ‘The Right Food for Hedgehogs’ and also the more expensive ‘Spikes brand’. Interesting, if slightly confusing as she seems to suggest TRFF does not contain rice and linseed which it does!
In fact the only online list of ingredients I could find for ‘Spikes Dinner Dry Hedgehog Food’ is identical to TRFF, though the analysis differs slightly. I am not entirely convinced the recipe is not exactly the same.
This is the response I received:
Thank you for your interest in our hedgehog food ranges, and for helping the hedgehog population.
You are correct that both The Right Food For (TRFF) and Spike’s brands are owned by Pets Choice. We also manufacture both foods at our extruder site in Lancashire. There is more than one type of food in the Spike’s product range, however the one most comparable to the TRFF brand is the Spike’s Crunchy dry food. the recipe for these two foods is not exactly the same. Some of the base recipe ingredients are the same as these provide the majority of the nutrients that hedgehogs require. TRFF is a more value brand, as grocery retailers such as Tesco and Morrisons require it to be at a lower price point in their shops. Therefore this recipe meets all the nutritional needs of a hedgehog, but does not contain some of the more premium ingredients that are contained in the Spike’s recipe. The Spike’s product is sold into pet retailers and independent pet shops, which allow for a more premium product and a different bag price. Both recipes meet the nutritional needs of hedgehogs, it is just that the Spike’s recipes contain ingredients such as rice and linseed, additional to the TRFF brand. Regarding the linseed inclusion, we add whole linseed and whole grains etc to the mix, this then goes through a grinder, which breaks it up into a powder and mixes the ingredients together. This action makes the nutrients more available in the final product.
The wildlife hospitals that advised on this project included hedgehog Care in Lincolnshire and Hedgehog Welfare in Grantham. There were several other centres as well, but these have unfortunately closed since the products have been in existence.
I hope this response answers your questions satisfactorily, please do not hesitate to contact me directly should you have any further questions.
Pets Choice Ltd, Brentwood House, Lower Philips Road,
Whitebirk Industrial Estate, Blackburn, BB1 5UD, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1254 54545 Fax: +44 (0)1254 68144616th October 2018 at 8:56 pm #12499
Well done – good result! Very interesting that they are the same people who make Spikes. Strange that they say it includes whole linseed when it actually then goes through a grinder! And, as you said, it was on the list of ingredients of TRFF. No mention of the Calcium/phosphorous levels, though, or why linseed at all, ground or otherwise. Nor the claim relating to cat food. But probably as good a response as you are going to get unless you feel like pursuing the contradictions. I don’t know anything about those wildlife hospitals, but maybe someone else does.16th October 2018 at 9:40 pm #12525
Yes I thought it was a good result as I was half expecting not to hear anything back from them. I think it would probably just confuse the issue further if I pursue the contradictions!
The actual wording on the packet relating to cat food is ‘Cat or dog food may contain unsuitable ingredients and are likely to attract flies’. Certainly our neighbouring cats show no interest in the TRFF and I know they would scoff the lot if I put cat food out. It does however appear very attractive to both wood mice and blackbirds.
Its good they do name a couple of wildlife hospitals even if they are not known to us. A little out of our area as we are on the south eastern edge of the New Forest.
No sign of our hogs for over a week now so it seems likely they have hibernated.18th October 2018 at 10:04 am #12562
Very clever wording re. the cat food.
Keep an eye out in case in hoglets turn up. They sometimes do, even after all the adults have disappeared.5th November 2018 at 7:01 pm #12972
I would appreciate some advice on the most nutritious cat biscuits with which to feed hedgehogs. I realise they should be ‘good quality’ and not fish, but which brand is best and what do other people use? And should they be kitten, adult, senior or wheat free?6th November 2018 at 5:23 pm #13013
Also interested to hear what others feed JillyJ. Not a cat owner, I was surprised what rubbish ingredients are in the popular cat foods, and also that the hedgehog specific food is quite expensive for the meat content.
After reading a lot of packets I gave up and shared my dogs’ expensive grain free lamb kibble for a while. When I realised the hogs were eating as much as one of my spaniels each day (!) we moved to Chudley’s Ferret and now Harrington’s Chicken Cat kibble, both 40% chicken meat meal and significantly easier on the pocket.
I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much – friends of mine have red squirrels visit their garden and tell me a sack of hazelnuts to feed them costs well over £100 ! 😮7th November 2018 at 9:17 am #13019
I suspect you could get as many answers to your question as there are brands of cat food! Reportedly different hogs in different areas won’t touch certain foods that others quite happily eat! Although I suspect that may just be what they’ve got used to.
I normally feed hog food, but last winter had to change. I had a non-hibernating hoglet and a rat. So I tried Iams kitten biscuits which were taken to well (by the hoglet, not the rat, luckily). Not the cheapest, maybe, but high protein and low fat. The hog did of course have no alternative. I think that is the thing, when there is an alternative they’ll often eat what they’re used to. The hoglet continued to grow throughout the winter.
I read some information a while back from:
(Lots of really useful information there, by the way)
“Hedgehogs have a propensity for eating almost anything and will readily consume high fat foods (e.g. cat food, processed meats, etc.) put out in gardens and if offered in captivity. 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”
Hence my preference for higher protein lower fat varieties.9th November 2018 at 1:09 pm #13047
Hi Nic, I bought 2 Hedgehog houses from Amazon as I have 2 visiting Hedgehogs. I placed a Rubber car mat underneath both houses to protect the bottoms from damp and cold as they are on garden slabs…..covered them in 2 plastic tableclothes, then placed another Rubber car mat on the top. ( I had filled each house 3/4 ‘ s with a mixture of soft meadow hay and leaves )… They are both situated against a fence in my small 12ft x 6ft garden…..With all the gales and relentless storms I bought 2 lots of tarpauline last week and have place them over both houses and the tarpauline extends approx 2ft out from the houses, so I can still feed them underneath the tarpauline. which is about 1 brick high. I have nailed one side of the tarpauline to the fence and the other side is firmly held down…I can place the dishes of food and water underneath the tarpauline so all remains dry…..They have been eating chicken flavoued grain free cat biscuits so far every night and lots of water…but I read somewhere not to give them suet balls or seeds, but I have just seen a photo of a hedgehog eating a suet seed ball, is it ok to do this ??? and would they eat sweet apples quartered as a fruit ??10th November 2018 at 5:54 pm #13057
It sounds as if you have quite a set up there! Many hogs prefer to make their own nests, even inside boxes we have provided. So don’t be surprised if you find the boxes are emptied. They might just re-use the contents in a different way. They are naturally expert nest builders. The best thing to do is put a small amount of nesting material in the box to give them the idea and then leave piles of suitable materials nearby for them to take in themselves. The things you have used sound just the sort of thing they might choose to use.
Sadly, it is entirely possible to see photos of hedgehogs eating all sorts of things which aren’t necessarily good for them.
My own feeling is that feeding fat is not good for them. It is not the sort of thing they would be eating naturally, and can I refer you to my previous message (just before yours) which included a quote from wildlife online about the problems eating a high fat diet can cause to hedgehogs.
Sunflower hearts, in particular, are considered to be ok as part of a properly balanced hedgehog food, but they have an imbalance of phosphorous and calcium, similar to mealworms but to a lesser degree. This means that fed exclusively or in large amounts they can contribute to bone problems.
Hogs are thought to eat some fruit in the wild, but I believe it forms a fairly small part of their diet, so personally, I wouldn’t feed apples to them. For the same reason sultanas are best avoided, and for the sake of the hogs teeth.
I would stick to the cat biscuits you are already feeding. Most of the hogs who aren’t already will soon be hibernating. If you have one that doesn’t, cat biscuits are one of the easiest things to feed through the winter because they don’t freeze.
Good luck.27th November 2018 at 8:18 am #13215
Always important to give food with fosfor : calcium ratio of 1:1 or 1:2 Else your hug will develop brittle bone disease. So nuts or sunflower pits are definitely a no go. You could think I am only giving this ass a treat but what if your neighbours are doing the same? This add up in the diet so never give this. Check your cat and dog food as lots of them have the wrong ratio. You could cook some minced beef and add some powdered eggshell. You should add one knifepoint for each 100 gram. Here is a very informative leaflet in German about feeding hedgehogs. I read German but for those that don’t: You can copy bits of text into google translate.27th November 2018 at 5:24 pm #13228
I just had a look and I’m not sure how practical it is translating something that long on Google. It doesn’t seem to work for me anyway, but I’m not very good at computer things. Is there any chance you can get a translation and put it on here?27th November 2018 at 5:43 pm #13231
You can copy paste bits of tekst into google translate. I will see if I can fully do this with the information sheet on feeding.27th November 2018 at 5:53 pm #13235
by Monika Neumeier
1. General ………………………………………… ……………………….. 2
2 Natural Food ……………………………………….. …………….. 2
3 nutrition needy hedgehogs ……………………………………… 3
4 problems with the diet ……………………………………… ….. 7
5 Unsuitable foods ……………………………………….. .8th
The composition of the food given to a needy, impoverished hedgehog must be based on the diet of a hedgehog in nature.
Hedgehogs belong to the family of insect eaters (Insectivora). This can be seen in the hedgehog bit, in the composition of the gastric juice and in the type of digestive system: in cats (carnivores) the ratio of body length to intestinal length is 1: 3, in the hedgehog 1: 4, in the pig ( Omnivore) 1:14 and in cattle (P zander) 1:20.
2 Natural food
Thanks to scientific studies of the gastrointestinal tracts of overrun hedgehogs and hedgehog feces, one knows quite well about the natural diet
2.1 What do hedgehogs eat in nature?
The main food is ground beetles, which we barely register, because they – like most of the food animals of the hedgehog – are nocturnal. Butterfly larvae, colloquially “caterpillars”, are also among the important prey animals.
Especially in spring and late autumn, earthworms are at the top of the menu.
Earwigs are delicacies, but hedgehogs – much to the chagrin of gardeners – do not particularly like snails for their slime.
Table 1: Importance of some food animals for the hedgehog (after Wroot, 1984)
Importance for the diet
Share of the feed gross energy
Mosquitoes and flies
Hundred and millipedes
Eggs of ground-breeding birds play virtually no role in most scientific studies of hedgehog diets.
However, it is known that hedgehogs appear in some seabird colonies as quite serious egg predators.
Mice are way too fast for the rather sedate hedgehog. The fact that vertebrate remains were found in the hedgehog feces rather indicates that the sting knights were eating carrion, that is, the remains of other prey claws.
2.2 Ingredients of the food
The hedgehog’s insect food is protein-rich and fatty: 100 g of an average mixture of insects and molluscs, such as those found in a hedgehog, contain about 16% protein, 4% fat, 2% carbohydrates and almost 3% undigested. Liche components, ie Ballaststo e.
2.3 The fairy tale of the fruit
In most of the gastrointestinal tracts of run over hedgehogs or in the faeces samples, p material was seen. Partly it was finely chewed and came from the digestive tract of caterpillars or earthworms. But uncooked and undigested plant material, especially grass, was found in the samples. The researchers assume it was accidentally eaten with other food.
Contrary to popular opinion, fruit does not belong to the food spectrum of hedgehogs. If you see a hedgehog on an apple, it only picks up insects and worms there. Like many mammals, hedgehogs also appreciate sweets. That’s why they sometimes snack on overripe fruit.
3 Nutrition Hedgehog in need of help
The diet of hedgehogs in nature is inevitably diverse. This principle of variety should also be in the diet of a needy
Do not disregard hedgehogs in human custody. Often only the same cat food is given out of the can during the entire mealtime.
In addition to the medical treatment of peeling, its nutrition is the most important contribution to health. Especially there you should not be too economical or comfortable.
A feed mix of basic and supplementary feed is much more calorific rich than the sole feeding with cat can feed. Moreover, the hedgehog’s digestive system is not so heavily loaded because the portions can be smaller. 100 g cat food is equivalent to 75-80 kcal, 100 g cattle but about 225 kcal. 50 g of cat food + 50 g of beef (cooked) have approx. 150 kcal. So the mixture contains – with the same amount of food – twice as many calories!
Nutrition needy hedgehog 3 Good food is made up of basic feed and supplementary feed.
The mixing ratio should be 50:50, i. one half canned food, one half supplementary food
(e.g., meat, egg, fish).
3.1 basic food
High quality cat wet food with a meat content of at least 60% is recommended as a “basic food”. Wet cat food contains 7.5 to 10% less protein than natural hedgehog food and is therefore relatively low in calories; but it is useful as a basic food because of its high vitamin and mineral content. The crude protein content should be at least 10%, the crude fat content at least 5% and the moisture content at a maximum of 78%.
In addition, the canned food should, if possible, not be mixed with: animal or vegetable protein con- centrations, sugar, molasses, cereals, vegetable by-products, preservatives, colorants and gelatine. So that the hedgehog does not commit itself to one flavor, you not only feed different types of a brand, but also the products of several manufacturers. The “basic food” is valued with “supplementary feed”, ie with different kinds of meat, with egg or fish.
Table 2: Nutrient information (after M. Neumeier / C. Schiller)
Natural food (mean)
Cat wet food (average, usual standard quality)
Cat wet food (mean, good quality)
</ = 4
1 The di erence of 100% of the sum of the nutrient information results from the averages of the nutrient contents and the raw fiber and crude ash content not specified here.
2 Rp = crude protein; Rf = crude fat; KH = carbohydrates; H2O = water
3.2. Supplementary food
Basically, meat, fish and eggs are only fed through to kill pathogenic germs, especially Salmonella. The most common supplement is chopped beef or pork. It is fried or cooked in very little water. There is often confusion about whether piglets can be given to hedgehogs. In the feeding of carnivores, it is generally not used because of possible allergic reactions. Thoroughly cooked pigs, in which not only bacteria but also pathogens of viral diseases – e.g. Aujetzky – be killed, but is compatible with hedgehogs. Cooked chicken
or turkeys you cut small; You can also turn larger portions through the meat grinder.
Eggs are particularly popular as scrambled eggs with hedgehogs: the fried egg is roasted in the pan – of course without spices, but with a little fat – until it is fixed. Of course you can also feed hard-boiled eggs, but some hedgehogs sort egg whites, which is not possible with scrambled eggs. Depending on the local or current supply options, other foods may supplement the basic feed: e.g. Mutton or venison, innards such as liver and heart, salt and freshwater, marine animals and single-headed chicks.
Table 3: Recipes for feed mixtures (after M. Neumeier / C. Schiller)
Attention: All recipe ingredients (except cat food) must be cooked, ie cooked / fried!
Recipes (100 g feed mix1)
50 g cat food + 10 g chicken liver + 40 g chicken egg with skin
50 g cat food + 50 g chicken hearts
50 g cat food + 50 g day old chick
50 g cat food + 50 g chicken wing
30 g cat food + 70 g scrambled eggs
50g cat food + 20g beef liver + 30g beef egg (medium fat)
50 g cat food + 25 g beef heart + 25 g beef (medium fat)
50 g cat food + 50 g mutton eisch (fat)
50 g cat food + 25 g scrambled eggs + 25 g ground beef
50 g cat food + 50 g hake
50 g cat food + 50 g paci klachs
50 g cat food + 50 g ink sch
50g cat food + 50g shrimp (shrimp)
50 g of cat food + 25 g of dried silkworms soaked in 25 g of water
1 The di erence of 100% of the sum of the nutrient information results from the averages of the nutrient contents and the raw fiber and crude ash content not specified here.
2 Rp = crude protein; Rf = crude fat; KH = carbohydrates; H2O = water
Supplementary food, because of the unfavorable calcium-phosphorus ratio, requires supplementation with calcium, such as calcium. Feed lime (without vitamin supplements) or eggshell powder (dry raw egg shells, pulverize, sterilize in the oven at 120 ° C for 30 min.). For each 100 g of supplemental feed add 0.5 g (1/2 pinch of full) calcium powder. Further additions of minerals or vitamins are unnecessary with a varied diet.
For critically ill hedgehogs and feed refusers, feeding with relatively expensive reptile feed, which largely corresponds to the hedgehog’s natural diet, is often life-saving. Suitable insects (grasshoppers, crickets, crickets) and insect larvae (Buf- falowürmer, mealworms, Zophobas, wax caterpillars, drone brood).
3.3 When the feces stinks
Exclusive feeding with cat wet food almost always causes soft, smelly feces. It is possible to dampen the unpleasant effects of such a one-sided feeding with the addition of ballast substances: both crude vegetable fiber (for example wheat bran, oats) and animal substances (cartilage, connective tissue, chitin) are suitable for this purpose. Even with disorders of the intestinal motor system (caused, for example, by inflammatory bowel syndrome, feed intolerances), an increased proportion of ballast substances may be helpful. However, in the long run a varied diet mixed with freshly prepared foods will be much healthier for the hedgehog.
3.4 Heated meat feed
The feeding of commercial hedgehog dry food is not recommended, and certainly not as – as it is on some packs – alone, main or rearing feed. Especially emaciated and growing hedgehogs have a particularly high protein requirement. In addition, natural food contains only small amounts of carbohydrates, but
constitute the largest component of feed. In addition, the dry food is usually eaten selectively, i. not all ingredients are consumed evenly. In addition, dry food – as the name suggests – is dry. The hedgehog must therefore consume a sufficient amount of water so that the mixture in the intestine is right. In a wild animal that is not accustomed to such dry food and whose water intake can not be actively influenced, one must ask oneself whether and how such food is tolerated at all.
As a “notration” during winter sleep, i. As an indicator of whether a hedgehog has hibernated and is interested in food, you can put Hedgehog dry food, but should provide a waking hedgehog again with normal wet food.
Table 4: Nutrient composition
in% dry matter (according to Struck / Meyer 1998)
Insect larvae may be fed only in small amounts because of the high fat content and the consumption of B vitamins.
Hedgehog dry food
Recommendation for hedgehog food
up to 58%
3.5 Feed amount and weight gain
Jungels can grow up to 20g per day in the first few days after ingestion. Such high increases in weight can be explained by the filling of a previously empty intestine, but also by the “filling” of an exsiccotic (dried) animal by increased water absorption. In the further course of the progestin, an increase of 10-15 g per day should be aimed for.
Expected, emaciated, adult hedgehogs should gain about 10 g per day, well nourished adult hedgehogs should
be kept only on their weight. In any case, an obesity should be avoided. Young hedgehogs should never weigh more than 750g during the breeding season, the average weight of adult hedgehogs is around 1000g.
At the beginning of the day, undernourished or severely emaciated animals are given very small portions so as not to burden their circulation too much.
Table 5, in conjunction with Table 3, shows the amount of calories needed to achieve the desired weight gain.
Table 5: Energy demand of growing hedgehogs according to Struck / Meyer (1998)
Nutrition needy hedgehogs 7
Body weight of the hedgehog
Increase in body weight per day
Daily energy requirement
up to 100 g
32 – 42 kcal
5 – 10 g
42 – 84 kcal
200 – 500 g
84 – 120 kcal
500 – 1000 g
120 – 180 kcal
Beware of malnourished hedgehogs! If you are allowed to eat as much as you like in the first hours after taking the picture, you may experience a Kreislau ollaps!
3.7 Tooth size
Once or twice a week, you can use the normal wet food to make boiled, skinned chicken with bones, boiled bovine soup bones or peeling ribs for nibbling. This is good for the teeth and helps against boredom, as well as the dried chicken necks available in the zoo trade.
4 problems with the diet
The most common cause of food refusal is an infestation with internal parasites. Then bring the best food too
the hedgehog not to eat; First, the internal parasites have to be removed by medication. Other infections can cause anorexia.
Not infrequently problems in the oral cavity prevent a hedgehog from eating. He may have loose teeth, massive calculus attachment, a foreign body in the palate, even a jaw fracture or pathological changes in the esophagus. It goes without saying that in all cases an immediate visit to the vet is indicated.
If a spiky patient is so sick or weak that he can not eat himself, he must be forcibly fed
Otherwise it may dry out or lose too much weight. Dietary supplements include protein-rich diet foods for cats and dogs, such as “Hill’s Prescription Diet Canine / Feline a / d” or Royal Canin “Convalence Support Instant Diet Canine / Feline”. They are available from the vet.
Transiently, one can also feed a lactose-poor, ready-to-use cat milk. Portions of 10 to 30 ml are administered four to five times a day, depending on the weight of the animal. In addition, normal hedgehogs are offered to the hedgehog so that they begin to feed themselves as soon as possible (see the book “Hedgehogs in Surgery”).
5 Unsuitable foods
Hedgehogs do not feed on fruit, s. Cape. 2.3. At most, they eat it out of boredom, in times of hunger, or when a pear is overripe and sweet. One or two slices of banana as a dessert
no hedgehog. But not everything that man eats is also beneficial to animals. Avocados, which are very popular as an addition to the hedgehog food, contain the poison perine. Persin has no negative effects on humans, but it is toxic in large numbers in some animals. In the absence of appropriate studies, it is not known where the dangerous dose of hedgehogs is. But do hedgehogs really need avocados? The answer is NO!
Also not suitable for feeding hedgehogs are milk and milk products (yoghurt, quark, cottage cheese) because of their lactose content. Although hard cheese hardly contains any more lactose, it is salty and therefore taboo.
Salty and sweet foods are generally not recommended. Therefore, steer clear of smoked or fried meat, honey, raisins and biscuits!
Walnuts or hazelnuts count on the pesticides that hedgehogs do not need. In nature there are almost never cracked nuts (not even peanuts!). Sunflower seeds are also not part of the food spectrum of hedgehogs.
Since many hedgehogs who are taken care of have problems with the stomach and intestine, it is all the more unreasonable to administer dubious supplements to them. determine whether the green feces is a sign of an intestinal inflammation or just the result of a Quarkgabe.28th November 2018 at 9:40 am #13239
Thanks for all that – amazing that you did it all. I think it is worth noting that this is talking about needy hedgehogs, by which I assume it means hedgehogs taken into care for some reason. I imagine it would be particularly interesting to what we call hedgehog carers or rehabilitators.
The food which we put out for the hedgehogs, in the wild, should only ever be supplementary to what they can find for themselves. That is why it’s so important to place more emphasis on trying to improve and increase the habitat for the hedgehogs so that they can find their own natural wild food. One of the main things about Hedgehog Street is to encourage people to make holes in their boundary fences/walls, so that hedgehogs can move more freely from garden to garden, and that way have access to more wild food.
Thanks again for all your work.
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