What do I eat and drink hedgehogs? Information about food and feeding

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We have two types of hedgehogs. Especially the brown-breasted iguana (Erinaceus europaeus) is widely distributed throughout the country. Less common is the Northern White-breasted iguana (Erinaceus roumanicus), which occurs only in the peripheral areas of eastern Germany. Hedgehogs live as loners and belong to the insectivores. The spiny animals are typical culture followers and have surprisingly quickly adapted to urban habitats. Thus, they are increasingly found in home gardens or city parks.


Hedgehogs were formerly predominantly native in richly structured habitats, they are now found mostly in the vicinity of man. The animals do not make high demands on their habitats. However, a prerequisite is that they find enough hiding places and sufficient food in a small space. Until a few decades ago the hedgehog had a varied, open cultural landscape as a natural habitat. Hedges, low shrubs and species-rich meadows offered protection and a rich food supply.
In the course of the spread of monocultures and progressive colonization, however, this livelihood has disappeared for the animals.
A new home is the adaptable Stacheleltier in natural parks and gardens, which provide the structural diversity that it needs. Today city hedgehogs have only very small areas, their nests often build them in close proximity to humans. Often we do not even notice that under a cover or in the bushes a hedgehog in our garden has its home.


Hedgehogs are not vegetarians and are not among the omnivores, as is often assumed. They have a broad food spectrum, which is limited mainly to invertebrates and their larvae. In the wild, hedgehogs eat:
  • Day and moth
  • worms
  • woodlice
  • Beetle
  • tracked
  • locusts
  • millipedes
  • snails
  • be crazy
  • birds' eggs
  • occasionally even small mammals
Fallow fruit or other vegetable food is eaten at most in exceptional cases. And if so, then only on condition that they may find maggots or worms there. The animals prefer to eat foraging on extensively managed meadows or in the vicinity of dead wood, to feed on the insects and invertebrates resident therein. Therefore, we can find the prickly animals foraging until mid-November, after which they go into hibernation.


Usually hedgehogs hibernate for a long time, because in the cold season they do not find sufficient food supply. When temperatures drop to freezing, the stinging animals have eaten a thick fat pad. For example, they search their quarters in a well-isolated heap of leaves or under a dense bush. During the cold and low-food season, their metabolism is kept to a minimum. Hedgehogs are dependent on hibernation to find a safe hiding place and to eat a fat reserve. Even hedgehogs in the city hibernate, although the temperatures here are usually much higher than in the countryside.


A large part of their fluid requirements, the animals cover their food. Nevertheless, they also have to drink something. In nature, hedgehogs drink water from puddles, streams or ponds. And you should also get that in the garden. Hedgehogs like milk, but they can not digest it. Just like cats, the prickly gardeners have a lactose intolerance. You can not break down lactose and therefore get strong diarrhea, which can lead to the death of the cute animal.
Therefore: Never feed hedgehogs with milk.

Offer drinking options

Already the first warm rays of the sun wake one or the other hedgehog out of its hibernation. Since there is little food, they usually hide once more in their winter quarters. When an animal awakens from hibernation, it first feels very thirsty. Therefore, already in spring potions should be offered. If you do not have space for a pond in the garden, you can offer a simple alternative:
  • non-tilting, shallow bowl with water
  • stable trivet with water
It is important that the water hole is kept clean and fresh water is added daily. Larger water points should have a flat side on at least one side or be provided with an exit option. Only then will the hedgehog come out again if it should fall into the water. In garden ponds and stream runs help big stones or just a board, which is placed diagonally into the water. Although the spiny animals can swim, this does not help in the long run. If the walls are too high and steep, the hedgehog can not get out again and will eventually go under.


Hedgehog nesting

The animals travel a lot and find enough food in a garden close to nature to take care of themselves.In a habitat where there are hedges, shrubs and lots of grass, in the warmer months the table will be amply covered for the hedgehog. Feeding in this case is not only unnecessary, but harms more than it helps. Hedgehog food is very varied and can not be replaced by commercially available hedgehog feed or cat food. In captivity threatens the risk of malnutrition and obesity. Spine failure and skin problems are in this case even more harmless symptoms. Nevertheless, there are some moments when a hedgehog needs help.

Spring (March-April)

When temperatures rise to about 10 degrees Celsius for a long time, the hedgehog wakes up from hibernation. As a rule, the males a few weeks before the females. Waking up - bringing the circulation back into action - takes a few hours and means enormous energy consumption for the animal. A hedgehog loses about thirty percent of its weight during hibernation.
Therefore, the starving carnivore begins immediately with the search for food. Some hedgehogs wake up very early in the year and go foraging. In mild weather, there are usually enough insects in the garden. However, if the weather is still cool or very unstable, the prickly garden dweller will look forward to lean times.


A second food shortage may occur in the fall. At this time, it is very important for hedgehogs to eat enough winter bacon, otherwise they will not survive the cold season. Hedgehog mothers, who lost a lot of energy and thus weight while raising their young, are especially affected.
In addition, it is difficult for young animals born late in the year to eat enough reserves before the onset of cold weather. Most hedgehog children are born in August, some not until late September. In both periods, it may therefore be necessary to feed hedgehogs.

The right hedgehog food

If you find a haggard hedgehog in late autumn, winter or very early spring at daily maximum temperatures of permanently below 6 degrees, you should offer him something to eat and drink. But not just anything, but food that strengthens the animal and keeps it healthy. A weakened animal needs high amounts of protein and fat. Commercially available hedgehog feed is not suitable as a complete diet because they contain too high amounts of carbohydrates. Make sure the food is at room temperature before you feed it. It is best to change the composition of the food at least every two to three days to avoid a one-sided diet.
  • Cat food (wet food) without sauce
  • Canned food for dogs (however cat food contains more protein)
  • a cooked egg
  • Unhatched scrambled eggs
  • roasted, unseasoned ground beef
  • plus small quantities of fiber-rich additives
  • These include: dry dog ​​food, wheat bran or oatmeal
  • Mix about 1 to 2 teaspoons per 100 to 150 g of basic food
Especially in the autumn late-born young and hedgehog mothers need high-calorie food to eat enough fat reserves for the approaching winter. One or two young hedgehogs rummage for edibles until late in November, because his instinct tells him that he only survives the cold season with the necessary winter bacon. Therefore, the protective winter rest builds the animal usually too late - and often not sufficiently padded. For this reason, many hedgehogs die in the cold season.
Tip: Bring sick and severely weakened hedgehogs to the vet immediately. You can trick the animal in the run-up to some water or chamomile tea with a disposable syringe in the mouth to provide it with something to liquid.

These things must not eat hedgehogs


Do not feed self-collected snails or earthworms from your garden. These can transmit parasites and continue to the weakened animal. Hedgehogs generally try everything they offer. But not everything they can tolerate. For example, you should never feed milk or fruit and vegetables on hedgehogs. The following foods should not be given:
  • Nuts and raisins
  • all sugary foods
  • fruit
  • vegetables
  • salad
  • Dairy products (cottage cheese, yoghurt, cheese)

Feeding time

Feed the hedgehogs who live in the wild, preferably in the evening at dawn. Hedgehogs are usually nocturnal and start foraging at sunset. If there are weakened animals or young animals (from October) in your garden, food should be made available at all times.
Tip: Pay attention to cleanliness. Not eaten food, scattered food remains and feces must be disposed of at least once a day, the feed bowl cleaned and refilled.

Misunderstood help

The little cheeky faces and the black button eyes may arouse the need to help the animals in the fall and bring them into the house. But apart from a few exceptions, that does not make sense. In freedom they have the greater chance of survival. Targeted help is only appropriate for sick, injured and extremely underweight hedgehogs.So, if you find a healthy echinoderm in your garden in October or November, it's better to offer it outside suitable food and wait.

Creating natural spaces in the garden

The more diverse a habitat is, the more species-rich is the supply of food. In rural areas, the animals that live as loners roam very far to find one or the other delicacy. Nevertheless, the hedgehog can also have a single garden, insofar as it offers everything it needs to live. One of the most important aspects for a hedgehog to feel comfortable is a continuous garden fence.
A slip-through of about 10 to 15 cm (about a hand's breadth) is already sufficient. If you see a hedgehog in the garden in the fall, you should help him with his preparations for the hibernation. You can easily do that by providing good shelter. As a place to sleep, for example:
  • dense shrubs
  • brushwood piles
  • compost heap
  • dry cavities in wood stacks
  • a room under a staircase

Be sure to leave the fallen leaves and twigs in one corner of the garden as these materials use the animals to build and isolate their nests. A tidy garden barely offers shelter to the prickly mammal.
Hedgehogs should be fed only if the food supply in nature is not rich enough, so that the animals survive even without help. This is especially the case in late autumn hedgehog boys and their mothers the case. A healthy hedgehog should usually not be brought into the house but rather with suitable food to be supported, to eat the necessary fat reserves and to hibernate in freedom.

Video Board: What Do Hedgehogs Eat: Watch This Before Feeding Your Hedgehogs.

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