Hedgehogs are adorable, spiky creatures that can be beneficial visitors to your garden. As insectivores, they help to control garden pests like snails, slugs, and insects, in turn contributing to a healthy plant life. Attracting hedgehogs to your garden not only adds to the charm of your outdoor space but also fosters a harmonious interaction between the various elements of the natural world.
Feeding hedgehogs in your garden can be a rewarding and enjoyable way of supporting local wildlife. It is essential to provide a suitable and healthy diet for hedgehogs, as they are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat almost anything they come across.
To support hedgehogs in the most beneficial and responsible way, understanding their diet in their natural habitat and providing them with the appropriate food is crucial.
- Hedgehogs are beneficial visitors to your garden, helping control pests and keeping plants healthy.
- Feeding hedgehogs in your garden helps support local wildlife and contributes to a harmonious natural balance.
- Providing a healthy diet that reflects their natural habitat ensures hedgehogs’ well-being in your garden.
Hedgehog Friendly Garden Setup
Creating a suitable shelter is essential for hedgehogs living in your garden. These nocturnal mammals need a secure and safe place to sleep during the day and hibernate during winter. You can offer hedgehogs multiple shelter options, such as hedgehog houses, sheds, log piles, and compost heaps. Make sure to place the shelter in a quiet and undisturbed area, preferably near hedges, fences, or similar natural boundaries.
Safe and Healthy Environment
A safe and healthy environment is vital for hedgehogs and other wildlife in your garden. Keep a few points in mind when maintaining your garden:
- Hedgehog highway: Ensure hedgehogs can move freely between gardens by creating small gaps (around 5 x 5 inches) in fences or bricks.
- Water availability: Provide access to clean, fresh water in a shallow dish or a pond, as hedgehogs can swim. To prevent hedgehogs from drowning in ponds, provide sloped edges or a ramp for easy access.
- Avoid using netting: Netting can be dangerous to hedgehogs as they can get tangled in it. Instead, opt for wildlife-friendly alternatives.
- Reduce chemical usage: Limit the use of slug pellets, pesticides, and herbicides, as they can harm hedgehogs and their food sources. You can use alternatives such as coffee grounds to deter slugs.
- Minimize litter: Keep your garden clean from plastic and other litter materials, which could harm hedgehogs and other wildlife.
Feeding Stations and Precautions
Feeding stations are a great way to support hedgehogs visiting your garden and ensure their dietary needs are met. Table below reflects some suggestions for feeding hedgehogs:
|Meat-based dog or cat food (wet or dry)||Sufficient nutritional value|
|Specialized hedgehog food||Nutritionally balanced and available from wildlife food suppliers|
|Invertebrates (e.g., millipedes, earwigs, etc.)||Supplement hedgehogs’ natural diet|
|Fresh water||Essential for hydration, do not offer milk as hedgehogs are lactose intolerant and may get diarrhea.|
To establish a feeding station, place the food and water in a sheltered location, preferably under a roof or an upturned plastic box with an entrance hole. This setup will ensure that other animals, such as cats and dogs, are less likely to disturb the feeding area.
Remember, it’s crucial to avoid feeding hedgehogs bread, milk, or any food items that are low in nutritional value or can be harmful to their health.
Hedgehog Diet and Feeding
What to Feed and What to Avoid
Hedgehogs are primarily insectivores, with their natural diet consisting of insects, snails, worms, and slugs. However, wild hedgehogs can also be opportunistic eaters, consuming other food items when presented, such as fruits and vegetables. In your garden, providing supplementary food for hedgehogs is important, especially during the winter months when their natural food sources are scarce.
When offering supplementary food, stick with meat-based wet dog or cat food, and dry cat/kitten food. These can provide hedgehogs with the protein they need. You can also consider using specially made hedgehog food which is widely available. Avoid offering cow’s milk, as hedgehogs are lactose intolerant and offering them cow’s milk can lead to diarrhoea and other health issues.
Fruits and Vegetables: Offer fresh fruits like apples, bananas, and berries, as well as vegetables such as tomatoes and green beans. Just make sure to remove any uneaten fruits and vegetables after a day to avoid attracting pests.
Insects: Hedgehogs love insects, so you can offer them mealworms, earthworms, beetles, and caterpillars.
Do not feed: Peanuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, and any foods high in sugar, salt, or fats.
Water: Always provide hedgehogs with fresh water in a shallow dish to ensure they stay hydrated.
Providing a Balanced Diet
Achieving a balanced diet for hedgehogs involves offering a mixture of their natural food sources along with suitable supplementary foods. A balanced food regimen should include:
- Meaty foods: wet dog or cat food, with high meat content.
- Dry foods: cat biscuits, hedgehog biscuits, or dog biscuits.
- Insects: earthworms, mealworms, beetles, and caterpillars.
- Fruits and vegetables: apples, berries, tomatoes, and green beans.
Remember that hedgehogs are nocturnal, so putting out food in the evenings is important.
As a general guideline, try to offer a variety of foods, focusing on meaty options for their high protein content. This will ensure that the hedgehogs visiting your garden receive a balanced and nutritious diet, helping them thrive and hopefully contributing to the population’s stability. Make sure to keep any uneaten food from attracting predators, such as badgers and birds, and maintain a clean feeding area to ensure the well-being of these delightful creatures.