Feeding Garden Hedgehogs:
There are a variety of ways you can feed your garden hedgehog and a number of specialised foods that are readily available. However, first things first, the most important thing you can do for your hedgehogs is leave out fresh water every evening. No matter where you live, it’s helpful to leave out a daily water supply for all garden wildlife, although, if you live in an urban area or housing estate this is even more important. Garden ponds and natural water sources are less frequent in these areas and your daily bowl of water could be the only source of hydration for your spiky friend.
Hedgehogs are insectivores, with insects making up around 70% of their natural diet. The natural foliage and shrubbery in your garden will naturally attract insects and make an attractive habitat for hedgehogs, however, food supplementing is often required in colder temperatures.
Wild hedgehogs will appreciate meat-based wet foods like cat foods and specialist hedgehog foods. You can use shop-bought cat foods but we would recommend using foods like Spike's Meaty Feast Hedgehog Food which is specifically designed for hedgehogs and is Hedgehog Hospital Approved. Spike’s also offer dry food pellets which helps hedgehogs maintain healthy teeth.
Dried mealworms are also a favourite with hedgehogs as they’re a great source of protein and can also be a good source of hydration if soaked in warm water before left out.
It’s a good idea to frequently mix up the kind of supplemental foods you put out for hedgehogs to make sure they’re not over indulging in foods with a lower nutritional value.
Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant so never leave out milk and avoid any products that contain milk powders or lactose. Ingesting milk can cause hedgehogs a great deal of sickness and pain, including diarrhoea that could ultimately lead to death. Do not use fish-based foods.
Housing & Habitat for Garden Hedgehogs:
It may look unruly to us but hedgehogs love a wild garden. Plenty of shrubbery, piles of leaves, and logs and twigs make an ideal habitat for our garden hedgehogs for a number of reasons. Firstly, this kind of habitat attracts plenty of bugs, worms, beetles and slugs; the primary diet for wild hedgehogs. Secondly, hedgehogs will make their nests in piles of foliage, which helps them remain hidden from predator’s during the day and keeps them warm whilst they hibernate.
However, if your garden can’t offer much in the way of vegetation then purpose made hedgehog houses are available. Good hedgehog houses are made from durable, natural materials and are designed to blend in to gardens. Its helpful to fill these houses with dry leaves/grass or shop bought straw and face the entrance to the house south/south east to avoid northern winds.
Hedgehogs will usually hibernate from late December/early January until March time. Though every hedgehog is different and these timelines can vary depending on the weather; for example, a warmer December may cause a hedgehog to hibernate even later into January. Some hedgehogs may not even hibernate at all.
Hedgehogs should weigh at least 500g in order to survive hibernation. If you notice a particularly small hedgehog in your garden leading up to the winter, make sure to provide some meaty hedgehog food or mealworms to help it build up its fat reserves.
Although some hedgehogs may not hibernate, their strictly nocturnal behaviour should not change and it should still be a rarity to see one during the day at any time of year. If you see a hedgehog during the day, follow the advice below:
What to do if you Find a Poorly Hedgehog:
The most common injury to hedgehogs is animal attacks; often from cats, foxes or other wildlife. You may also find hedgehogs out during the day and, in the majority of cases, this suggests there is something wrong with the hedgehog. In both of these scenarios the best course of action is to pick up the hedgehog using gardening gloves, put it in a box, and take it to your local wildlife rescue or hospital as soon as possible.