As awareness of the threat of extinction to our nation’s hedgehogs grows, more and more lovely, kind people are now providing supplementary food for them. But it’s important that it is the right food.
Feeding hedgehogs prevents much more than starvation: a hog who has access to nutritious food will be able to maintain a healthy immune system, thus able to fight infection and keep the parasite/host balance in check.
Dry complete kitten or cat food.
And that’s it.
It’s all they need; no treats, no toppings, no additives.
The reason I recommend cat food is because it is regulated, so you can be sure it's safe and hygienically produced, and it's the perfect nutrition for hedgehogs. Commercial hedgehog food is completely unregulated, so it can contain anything - even things that are really harmful to hedgehogs - and the packaging can state even the most outrageous lies, all without fear of punishment. Secondly, hedgehogs have very small mouths, and the biscuit size of cat/kitten food is generally smaller than dog food. Thirdly, cat food is easily available in many supermarkets, so there's no danger of running out and having to wait for online orders.
The biscuit size of Tesco Complete Kitten dry food, Sainsbury's own Kitten Complete, and Purina One Kitten are perfect for all ages, even tiny hoglets.
Use dishes that are shallow, heavy, and have straight sides, and always provide clean water.
Any flavour is fine, just look at the ingredients list - some kind of meat should be the first thing listed (avoid those with cereal as the first, therefore largest, ingredient. Cereal is just worthless bulk - to cats as well as hedgehogs).
There are very few 'hedgehog foods' that are actually safe to feed, and only the dry kibble type. But the quality of cat food you could buy for the same price as these would be far superior quality, and much better value.
Avoid any so-called ‘Hedgehog Food’ that resembles muesli and contains a mixture of nuts, sunflower hearts, seeds or mealworms/calciworms as, no matter what the seller claims, all these ingredients are VERY harmful to hedgehogs.
No. In fact, hedgehogs dislike change and once they start taking the supplementary food you offer you’ll have a job persuading them to change.
Wild animals use food for fuel, not entertainment - you’ll never hear a lion saying, “Oh no, not gazelle again!”
You already are, by providing nutritious food that they don’t have to forage for. Humans have developed a complex emotional and psychological attachment to food. We use it to treat and reward ourselves (and our pets) and to exhibit status; it isn’t so long ago that a man’s wealth and power was judged by how fat he was (now it’s how quickly he can get a table in a posh restaurant).
Wild animals don’t have our complex food hang-ups, so please don’t force yours on them.
Hedgehogs are creatures of habit, they don’t like change. But they are also highly adaptable creatures. You may have to clean up untouched food for a few days, but hunger will bring the hedgehog back.
Persevere and don’t give in - remember you are doing what’s best for them.
Yes, they do, the same way children love sweets and crisps. Hedgehogs have a highly developed sense of taste, and they use this to explore their world. When they smell something intriguing they will lick it. Apart from looking like their natural prey, mealworms have a distinct smell and taste that hedgehogs seem to find delicious. But they also find creosote and turpentine delicious.
The body of any mammal needs to maintain the correct blood levels of calcium and phosphorous, to prevent disorders such as metabolic bone disease. Certain foods, such as mealworms, peanuts and sunflower seeds, are high in phosphorous and very low in calcium. If too much phosphorous is eaten, calcium is taken from the body’s calcium stores (the bones) to correct the ratio.
This reduces the bone density, making them weak, thin, bendy and deformed, causing constant pain. Eventually the bones will break and the hedgehog will be unable to walk to find food and will starve to death.
Please, never give hedgehogs mealworms.