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What To Feed Hedgehogs & The Danger Of Too Many Mealworms!

Home Forums Hedgehog signs and sightings What To Feed Hedgehogs & The Danger Of Too Many Mealworms!

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    I know this subject has been covered many times before, but it seems that the message is still not getting through. Rescue centres up and down the country are seeing increasing numbers of their prickly patients with metabolic bone disease, which is linked to feeding large amounts of mealworms. Metabolic bone disease is a very distressing condition which basically robs their bones of calcium and leaves them so weak that they are barely able to stand up. In an attempt to re-educate people into cutting back on the mealworms and feeding them a balanced diet, Lynda who runs our local rescue has written this excellent article. It is quite lengthy, but well worth reading to the end.

    Sorry the writing is a bit small, but it was the only way I could get it all on here. If you click on each one it will make it bigger.

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    Hi Penny

    Very good article. Interesting that fish cat/dog food is actually ok. It is very useful to hear from someone who really knows what they are talking about. Thanks for passing this on.


    Thank you for attaching this article. It’s my first year of feeding hedgehogs in the garden & have been giving them a mixture of hedgehog food, & dog food but also quite a few mealworms. I will be taking your advice & keep the hogs healthy.


    Thanks Penny, excellent article and helpful with the cat problem too. I read some articles on bone disease and it sounded very painful and took a lot of treatment and recovery time to rehabilitate.

    Ours won’t touch wet food tried dog and cat in several flavours – stopped the mealworms, we’re feeding a mix of hedgehog and cat biscuits. Didn’t know why no fish food just read as others that it wasn’t suitable but to be fair ours do go a rummaging round the pond so they may be getting pond life from in there in the summer (no fish in there though).


    Our hogs aren’t interested in the wet pet food either (only the dam cats!). The only time they will eat it is running up towards hibernation. It’s good to know that the fish flavours or oils are not a problem; I’ve spent ages studying the ingredients in supermarkets trying to find biscuits without them in. Hedgehogs are good swimmers, so I suppose if you think about it, they would be more likely to come across a fish for supper rather than a chicken or a cow!

    With regard to the Ark Wildlife hedgehog biscuits, if anyone was thinking of ordering any, I would try a small amount first just to make sure that they like it. I ordered a whopping great bag last year because it was so highly recommended and they wouldn’t touch it, I ended up giving it away to someone with some more grateful and less contrary hedgehogs! Their favourite at the moment is Purina One and Go Cat kitten biscuits mixed together, I’ve tried to sneak some Spikes into the mix that a friend gave me, but they just pick everything else out around it and leave it for the birds! 🙂


    I know that hedgehogs are partial to a few mealworms, but recent events have shown just how addicted they are. I only ever put around half a dozen on top of their cat biscuits; my theory is that if there is a chance of a mealworm the hedgehogs will still keep coming and then eat the nutritious biscuits as well.

    We recently made a new hedgehog hole in a gate which backs onto a footpath and in order to let the hogs know that is was there sprinkled a few mealworms around it. The first night one lucky hog discovered them and scoffed the lot. Up until that point the hogs didn’t usually start to arrive until around 10.30pm. The following evening the same hog was there looking for them at 9.00pm before I had even put any out! Since then more hogs have been arriving early and last night three hogs were spotted on camera looking for the extra mealworms. A reliable camera has been trained on the new access hole and as yet no hedgehogs have used it, they are all making their way to the far corner of the garden past four dishes of cat biscuits and back just to find the extra mealworms!


    Are we talking about live or freeze dried mealworms here? I though the live ones were full of goodness.

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    Both. It is to do with the Calcium Phosphorous ratio. Please read the article above. Added to that, hedgehogs, and more so, the hoglets, can apparently get a bit addicted to them and not want to eat anything else. This would just compound the problem. A few included with a balanced diet are probably ok, but presenting large quantities of, only, mealworms to hedgehogs is not good news for them. Perhaps one of the very best things we can do for hedgehogs is to try to improve their habitat for them so they can find their own wild food. This would consist of a variety of things.

    I know there has been some publicity recently about mealworms or insects generally as a source of protein for humans, but I don’t think anyone is suggesting that humans should eat them to the exclusion of anything else. Before you say it, I know what we provide is only supposed to be supplementary feeding for hedgehogs, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make it as nutritionally good for them as we can.


    Useful information here, thanks. Will be reigning in the mealworms from now on, and have just ordered a bag of Ark Original Hedgehog Food. Our visitor loves the mealworms which we have been lavishly putting out for him, and tends not to eat all the biscuits we leave. He is going to be one disappointed little fella from now on.

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    Hi logginthelog

    If you have trouble with stopping mealworms completely in one go, try mixing a very few in with the other food and reduce them gradually. Several other people have tried this and managed to stop the mealworms completely fairly quickly. Hope you manage to persuade him to eat some more nutritious food before he hibernates. Good luck.


    Really worried never realised meal worms bad have been feeding lots to hedgehogs as thinking they ok . Have tried wet hedgehog food and hedgehog food they won’t touch please advise . I have two hedgehog houses set up and my hedgehog had 4 hoglets this year hence second house set up now


    Hi De8s,

    It’s not easy to wean them off meal worms, but it can be done. It is best to do it gradually by mixing some in with wet or dry food; yes they will pick them out at first, but they will eat the nutritious stuff eventually. Have you tried Ark Wildlife muesli with calci worms, you could sprinkle that over dried biscuits, ours are incredibly fussy but they love that. Good luck! 🙂


    Yes, from what I have read meal worms are bad for hedgehogs. Sadly hedgehogs become addicted to them and they will eat only them despite better nutritious food…a bit like me with Pringles or a carrot!
    I read some good advice from Nic but can’t remember the post it was on but basically you need to wean them off the meal worms. Reduce the amount each day mixing them with cat/dog/hedgehog food (maybe use kibble to prevent some wastage). If they don’t eat it don’t worry- in general I think they will eat the other food when they get hungry.
    Hogs should be hibernating soon and when they wake in the spring will be hungry. Don’t have meal worms in their food in Spring. This will be the ideal time to get them used to different food.
    With the hoglets you will need to keep an eye on their weight. Do you know how old they are? You really don’t want them to have meal worms as this could lead to awful problems for them as they grow.
    Have a look at the posts re hoglet weights/hibernation/overwintering etc.
    Let us know how it goes.


    To add to the mealworm debate it is frustrating that following what appears to be good scientific research into the problem feeding Hedgehogs mealworms there are still companies selling food for hedgehogs and highlighting the ‘delicious’ mealworm content, and also so called Hedgehog websites which have not updated their stance/advice following the published conclusions.
    For my part I have a 5kg bag of mealworms which will now go to the birds (in small quantities) over the coming months.
    I have now substituted mealworms for Calci worms and the Hogs have taken well to it and the combined nibble + calci worm feed they get is disappearing each night.

    While I appreciate Ark Wildlife products are very well received, I personally find them expensive and have selected other suppliers for Nibbles and Calci worms. As an example Ark charge £46.80 for 20kg of nibbles while I pay £29.99. In respect to Calci worms Ark charge £24.95 for 1kg while I pay £53.95 for 10kg (£5.39/kg). I have no way of comparing the quality of the respective products, but their ingredients seem to be similar, and the Hogs are not complaining either.


    We have three hedgehogs visiting our garden, which is surprising really considering we live in a busy street. After trying many types of hedgehog food over the years, we have finally one that the neighbouring cats are not interested in but the hedgehogs seem to love. That is Mr Johnsons Hedgehog food from Wilkinsons,

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