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Supplementary food for hedgehogs

The hedgehog’s natural diet mainly consists of earthworms, ground beetles, caterpillars, earwigs and millipedes.

How do you encourage natural hedgehog food in the garden?

During cold or dry periods, these creepy-crawlies become much scarcer in gardens, so hedgehogs will benefit hugely from a shallow dish of water and supplementary feeding at these times.

Credit: Matthew James

What can I feed hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs will relish any combination of meat-based wet dog or cat foods, or dry cat/kitten food. Just remember, they will be getting most of their food from insects and worms in the wild, and this food is only supplementary. Specially made hedgehog food is also widely available. Those resembling pet food with a high meat content are most suitable.

Place in a shallow dish and put in a sheltered area of your garden, or a feeding station (see below), around sunset. Splitting food over several sites may reduce aggression at food bowls. Don’t forget to offer water bowls too!

Credit: Debbie Standen

Can you feed hedgehogs bread and milk?

Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant so please do not give them milk. Bread is low in energy so fairly worthless to them.

How can I stop cats and foxes eating it all?

Be aware that putting any food out will attract all sorts of wildlife and not just hedgehogs, this includes predators.

To avoid the food you put out being eaten by pets or foxes you could make a feeding station that is difficult for anything larger than a hedgehog to access.

You could use a piece of piping, or build a shelter out of bricks and paving stones or get some inspriation from a nifty solution by Hedgehog Champions below.

Placing a shallow dish of water at the entrance, and/or a ‘brick maze’ inside a feeding station should also prevent cats getting to the food, as below.

Find more tips for keeping cats away here.

Should I clean my feeding station?

Hedgehogs are solitary animals generally. By putting food out, you are more likely to attract several hedgehogs. As they share food from the same feeding station, its possible that they could spread disease between one another. It could also be a risk that they spread disease to us, so to be extra safe regularly clean your feeding bowls and do not wash them with your own plates and bowls.

For more hedgehog and disease advice visit the Garden Wildlife Health project website and download their helpful fact sheets.