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Welcome to the world of hedgehogs! These charming little creatures are a true asset to any garden. As helpful allies in the fight against pests like slugs, they contribute to the natural balance of our ecosystem. However, sometimes they need our support, especially in the fall as they prepare for hibernation. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to properly feed hedgehogs in your garden and help them through critical times. 

The Right Diet: What Hedgehogs Really Need 

Hedgehogs are omnivores, primarily feeding on insects, slugs, and worms. To help them in your garden, you can offer special hedgehog food, cat or dog food in small quantities. Dry food is better than wet food as it doesn’t spoil as quickly. Supplement their meals with fresh water – avoid milk, as hedgehogs don’t tolerate it well, and it can cause digestive problems. 

Setting Up a Feeding Place: Safe and Accessible 

Hedgehog in the woods
image: Alexas_Fotos – pixabay.com

Choosing the right location for a hedgehog feeding station in your garden is crucial. You should select a spot that is quiet and sheltered, allowing hedgehogs to feel secure and eat undisturbed. An ideal location is one that is protected from wind and rain and not directly visible to humans and pets. 

A simple and effective solution for a hedgehog feeding station is using an inverted plastic container with a side entrance that you can easily cut out. Ensure that the entrance is large enough for hedgehogs but too small for larger animals like cats or dogs. The container protects the food from the elements and keeps it fresher for longer. It may also be beneficial to lay some straw or leaves near the feeding station to provide additional protection and comfort for the hedgehogs. 

Observing Feeding Times: When Is Best? 

As nocturnal creatures, it’s best to offer food to hedgehogs in the late evening hours, aligning with their natural feeding habits. This ensures they find the food when they’re active. 

Remove leftovers in the morning to prevent attracting other animals like rats or mice. This practice also maintains the freshness of the food and ensures it’s free from contaminants. 

Regular cleaning of the feeding area is advised to prevent diseases. If you notice the food remains untouched overnight, consider slightly relocating the feeding station to a safer, more appealing spot for the hedgehogs. 

Health Check: Monitoring Hedgehog Well-being 

While feeding hedgehogs, take the opportunity to observe their health. Healthy hedgehogs are curious and active. However, if you spot a hedgehog wandering during the day, appearing emaciated, or behaving unusually, contact a local hedgehog rescue center or a veterinarian. 

Important to Know: Supplements and Dietary No-Nos 

Hedgehog eating dogfood on a meadow
image: Ralphs_Fotos – pixabay.com

Feeding hedgehogs requires special attention to ensure they receive nutrition beneficial to their health. It’s crucial to avoid foods that could be harmful and offer those that meet their natural dietary needs. 

Foods Hedgehogs Should Not Eat: 

  • Bread and Milk: These are not suitable for hedgehogs and can cause digestive issues. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, and milk can lead to diarrhea. Bread lacks nutritional value and can burden their digestive tract. 
  • Sweets or Sugary Foods: These can lead to obesity and dental issues. 
  • Spiced or Salty Foods: Such foods are not tolerable for hedgehogs and can lead to severe health problems. 
  • Raw Fish or Meat: These can contain bacteria harmful to hedgehogs. 
  • Citrus Fruits or Acidic Foods: These can irritate the stomach and are not suitable for hedgehog diets. 

Recommended Supplements and Safe Foods: 

  • Special Hedgehog Food: These are formulated to meet hedgehogs’ nutritional needs, containing the right mix of proteins, fats, and vitamins. 
  • Cat or Dog Food: This is a good alternative if special hedgehog food is unavailable. Choose non-fish-flavored varieties. 
  • Cooked Chicken: Unseasoned and salt-free, it can be a good source of protein. 
  • Cooked Eggs: Simple to prepare and chopped, they offer a healthy addition. 
  • Insects: Natural foods like mealworms, crickets, or cockroaches (in moderation) are excellent protein sources and mimic hedgehogs’ natural diet. 

While hedgehogs are insectivores, it’s important to create a balanced offering that meets their nutritional needs. Ensure the food is fresh and free from contaminants. When offering supplements, it’s important to do so in moderation to avoid overfeeding. 

 Conclusion: 

By correctly feeding hedgehogs in your garden, you’re contributing significantly to the conservation of these fascinating creatures. It’s not only a joy to observe them in their natural habitat but also an opportunity to experience and support nature right at your doorstep. With the right feeding practices, you can ensure the hedgehogs remain healthy and continue to visit your garden in the future. 

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