If you have hedgehogs in your garden, please look after
them well. You are one of the very few lucky ones to still enjoy the
presence of these endangered animals
Hedgehogs are insectivores with over 70% of their
natural diet being insects and beetles, some worms and a very tiny
amount of slugs and snails.
**Do not give them bread and milk**.
They cannot digest the bread
and cows milk gives hedgehogs very bad diarrhoea. Many hedgehogs die
because of this wrong diet.
What to feed them on...
Tinned Cat, Dog, Puppy or Kitten food. They prefer Chicken flavours
best. Do not give Fish flavours
Cat or Kitten Biscuits. Only give meat flavoured biscuits. Do not give Fish flavours.
The premium brands like
James Wellbeloved are much better for them (The "cheaper" common brands
contain much more cereal and are not so nutritious)
Spike’s Dinner hedgehog food either tinned or dry
available from good pet shops or Direct from
Spikes World who also have other quality
hedgehog foods in their online store
Gardeners wrongly think having hedgehogs in the garden
is all they need to keep the slug and
snail population down.
Hedgehogs mainly eat beetles and caterpillars, not slugs and
The idea that they only eat slugs and snails is very wrong.
Only approximately 5% of their diet naturally will be slugs or
will only eat a lot of slugs and snails when they are starving and no other food
A hedgehog that is forced to rely only on slugs and
snails will not survive long. Offering a hedgehog additional food is the best
thing for the
Slugs and snails are the primary carriers for the lungworm which is the biggest killer of hedgehogs except for us and
our careless behaviour
When the lungworms breed inside the
hedgehog they rapidly multiply, fill the hedgehog's lungs and
the hedgehog either dies from drowning (Pneumonia) or bleeding from the
Hedgehogs with lungworms have terrible breathing
problems, are very thin and underweight, often have bad diarrhoea and will have
secondary bacterial infections. Once the worms are well established the
hedgehog coughs like an old smoker and gasp for air before dying in
agony. Post mortem examinations often show the lungs as a solid mass
with very little lung tissue left
Over half of all the hedgehogs
brought into Rescue Centres or Wildlife Hospitals in Autumn and
Winter die because of the damage the lungworms have done to them.
Pat Morris in The new Hedgehog Book (ISBN 1873580711) available direct from
There is usually a significant prevalence of
lungworms in hedgehogs. They cause a type of pneumonia that is
often fatal. Lungworms are a special kind of nematode worm and
are often very widespread. They are very tiny (invisible without
a microscope) but attack the lungs in large numbers. This causes
the hedgehog to produce a lot of watery fluid in its air
passages and breathing becomes very laboured. Once the worms
have established the hedgehog wheezes and coughs as though it
had smoked 40 cigarettes a day. Hedgehogs get these parasites as
a result of eating slugs and snails within which the parasite
2 main types of lungworms prevalent in hedgehogs: Crenosoma
striatum and Capillaria aerophila.It has previously been
thought that lungworms mainly affected adult hedgehogs because the
juveniles wouldn't have had enough time to be badly infested. We
have found that almost all juveniles, especially the Autumn orphans
will carry a very heavy parasite load and unless given treatment
The way to prevent a lot of the infestations is to make
sure you feed the hedgehogs in YOUR garden, so they are not forced to
eat slugs and snails. Once a hedgehog eats a slug it only
takes 3 weeks before the lungworms are established in the lungs