The Best Hedgehog Food Are...
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Spike's Delicious Dry Review
In the winter months, it’s best to stick with dry food for hedgehogs as wet food can freeze. Therefore, this Spike’s Delicious Dry is some of the best hedgehog food to use during the colder months, particularly because Spike’s is a well-known brand for producing hedgehog products.
The Spike’s company has been running for 21 years and works with several charities to help support our nation’s hedgehogs. This is reassuring, as it means they’re not just any random company selling food without the knowledge to back it up.
This food contains poultry meat meal, wheat, wheatfeed, whole maize, rice, poultry oil, brewer’s yeast and whole linseed as well as added vitamins. The nutritional composition is: 25% crude protein, 12% crude oils and fats, 3% crude fibres, and 7% crude Ash.
It’s suitable for both adult hedgehogs and hoglets, thanks to its size and shape, so can be used throughout the year. If you have a trail cam, you’ll likely be able to hear them crunching their way through the biscuits, which adds another level sounds as they munch away
In terms of price, it’s economical for a 2.5 kg bag and doesn’t go off easily as long as it is stored correctly. Although it can turn quite mushy when placed outside on rainy nights, hedgehogs don’t seem to mind too much. Of course, the bowl can be placed somewhere slightly more protected, like under a bush, if precipitation is forecast.
It should still be placed outside alongside water, no matter the time of year, to help offer hedgehogs a place to drink as well.
- Dry food can be used in winter time without the risk of it freezing outside
- 2.5 kg is economically priced and should last a long time considering an adult hedgehog will eat max 20 g per night
- Main ingredient is chicken-based poultry meal
- Size and shape of biscuits makes them suitable for hoglets as well as adult hedgehogs
- Wheat, which is a filler, is relatively high on the ingredients list
Spike's Meaty Feast Hedgehog Food Review
Whilst a lot of hedgehog foods use wheat as a filler, which adds no nutritional value, this Spike’s Meaty Feast Hedgehog Food makes a point of containing no wheat.
The main ingredients are chicken, pork, brown rice, minerals, and chicory extract. Then there are some nutritional additives added to the food as well.
Looking at the ingredients, this seems to be one of the best hedgehog foods as it contains little ‘padding’; all of the ingredients are recognisable and it has no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Plus, there aren’t any sugary elements either.
Each 140 g foil tray contains one night’s serving, and eight trays come included with the purchase. This makes them relatively good value for money, especially if used alongside dry biscuits too. It would also be possible just to put out half a tray per night, as the food can be stored in the fridge for 48 hours once open.
The downside of wet food is that it can freeze in the winter, and doesn’t allow hedgehogs to sharpen their teeth, so many people like to use a combination of wet and dry food for this reason.
As always, hedgehogs can be picky animals and it may take them a while to take to this food, but it’s certainly a good option to consider thanks to its nutritional content, price, and ease of use.
- Can be stored in the fridge for 48 hours once open, so don't need to put whole tray out in one night
- Quality food that contains recognisable ingredients and 100% natural ingredients
- Does not contain any filler like wheat that offers no nutritional value
- Offers reasonable value for money
- Each portion is individually wrapped which means more packaging is used than with dry food
- Wet food does not help hedgehog's to sharpen their teeth as dry food does
- Will freeze if temperatures drop below 0°C
- May be messier to clean up than dried food
Brambles Crunchy Hedgehog Food Review
From a small family business based in the UK, this Brambles Crunchy Hedgehog Food consists of small kibble pieces with poultry as the main ingredient.
The ingredient list reads: poultry meat meal, wheat, wheatfeed, whole maize, rice, poultry oil, brewer’s yeast, and whole linseed. This creates a food that is relatively high in protein, which helps complement the natural diet of hedgehogs.
Sold as a 2 kg bag, this food is not quite as good value as the Spike’s Delicious Dry kibble, but it still doesn’t get used up quickly. The recommended amount to put out is a handful per night.
It’s suitable for hedgehogs of any age, and as a dry food it can also help with their dental health.
Overall, this is one of the best hedgehog foods to complement the hedgehogs’ natural diet; it’s high in protein and contains natural ingredients. However, as a dry food there is the caveat that it does contain some wheat and ‘filler’ ingredients too.
- Most hedgehogs like this food meaning very little is wasted
- 2 kg bag offer reasonable value for money as you only need to put out one handful per day
- Crunchy texture helps hedgehogs with dental health
- 25% protein content will help hedgehogs build up reserves for winter
- It can be hard to stop dogs and cats from also eating this food and it may need to be concealed in a hedgehog house
- As a dry food, wheat appears relatively high up in the ingredients list
Gardman Hedgehog Dry Food Review
If you want to test out the hedgehog-feeding potential of your garden, without buying a massive bag of food, this Gardman Hedgehog Dry Food is sold as 650 g; it’s enough to see if hedgehogs will come to your yard, without too much wastage if they don’t.
Not only is it useful for enticing new hogs, but it’s also a well-balanced, good-quality hedgehog food overall. It contains quite a lot of ingredients: poultry meat meal, rice, maize meal, meat & bone meal, poultry oil, fish meal, salmon oil, brewer’s yeast, poultry digest, vitamins and minerals.
Whilst some people are put off by the inclusion of fish-based ingredients for hedgehogs, it is now commonly believed that they have no problem digesting them. Whilst fish doesn’t make up part of their natural diet in the wild, it doesn’t seem to be harmful either.
This Gardman food is suitable for hedgehogs of all ages which means that the kibble size is suitable for younger hoglets as well as adult hedgehogs.
The food keeps well as long as it is stored, well-sealed, in a cool, dry place; even if you don’t have any luck with feeding hedgehogs in early springtime, you could still try again when autumn comes around.
All in all, this is one of the best hedgehog foods if you don’t want to buy a huge bag and are just testing the waters in your garden. Even so, it’s still a good option overall as it’s nutritionally balanced and the dry biscuits will help with hedgehog’s dental health.
- Crunchy texture helps hedgehogs with dental health
- Stores well as long as it is kept in a cool, dry place and is well sealed
- Smaller bag size is good for anyone wanting to test out if hedgehogs will visit their garden
- Kibble size is suitable for both hoglets and adult hedgehogs
- Smell quite pungent, but isn't a problem in storage as long as the bag is well sealed
How to Choose The Best Hedgehog Food
Many of us have hedgehogs roaming our lawns at night time, whether we know about it or not. They’re also one of the easiest wildlife species to attract, and can be useful too, besides just being cute.
Hedgehogs are a gardener’s best friend because they eat slugs and snails, so they’re great little critters to have around. Unfortunately, their population has been dwindling in recent years and they need a bit of a helping hand.
You can encourage hedgehogs to visit your garden by putting out food for them. However, it can be complicated to know what the best hedgehog food is; some foods, even those sold and aimed at hedgehogs, can do more harm than good.
I’ve put together the following information so that you can make an informed choice when it comes to buying hedgehog food:
Seeing as hedgehogs are wild animals, it might seem excessive to provide them with additional food.
Unfortunately, it seems that hedgehogs are struggling to get enough sustenance from their surroundings alone; the population of hedgehogs in the UK is declining at an alarming rate.
Hedgehogs need sufficient fat reserves to get them through their winter hibernation, otherwise they have to continue looking for food when the temperatures drop. This can unfortunately lead them to perish in the search. Additionally, they also need plenty of food in order to have the energy to successfully raise their young.
Putting food out for hedgehogs year-round gives them a much higher chance of survival.
This food isn’t intended to be the hedgehog’s only food source; it acts to supplement the diet they get from scavenging.
But why do we want hedgehogs in the first place?
Of course, firstly the fact that they’re cute (which goes without saying) is as good a reason as any to want to help the species thrive. But they’re also useful creatures to have around the garden as well.
Their numbers have declined dramatically in the last 10 years. So much so, that the UK has actually lost a third of its population of hedgehogs in that time. These animals are a traditional British staple – just think of lovely Mrs Tiggy-Winkle – and we don’t want them to die out forever!
Then, there’s the fact that hedgehogs offer a genuine service to gardeners, improving the health of the plants in the garden by eating snails and slugs. They’re immensely beneficial in the garden!
The biggest obstacle when buying hedgehog food is knowing what ingredients should be included, and which should be avoided.
A hedgehog’s diet should ideally have a 2:1, or 1:1, ratio of calcium to phosphorous. When hedgehogs consume too much phosphorous it can cause them to have a calcium deficiency. This can ultimately damage their bones and cause severe health problems.
Remember, the food you are putting out is a supplement to the food that the hedgehog is already finding in the wild. Therefore, you should be mindful not to include high-phosphorus foods, as they are likely getting some of these from their natural diet anyway (primarily from insects).
Some hedgehogs can take a while to get used to a new food, much like cats. If you have been feeding your hedgehogs a less healthy option, such as mealworms, then they may throw a tantrum when you change to a more nutritionally-beneficial hedgehog food.
Be patient – they will eat when they get hungry and the proper hedgehog food will be much better for them in the long run.
These Foods are Hedgehog Friendly
In general, you want to be feeding hedgehogs with food that is small enough for their small mouths to cope with – this rules out dry dog food and nuts. You can feed chopped up nuts to hedgehogs very occasionally, but you should be mindful that they have a high fat content and poor calcium to phosphorus ratio.
Foods which are suitable for hedgehogs include:
- Cat biscuits – these are often small enough for hedgehogs to manage. You can even use kitten kibble if you feel the cat biscuits are still too big.
- Wet cat or dog food – this tends to be very popular with hedgehogs and is easy for them to eat. You can break it up with a fork first so that it’s even more manageable.
- Rice – soft, cooked rice is suitable for hedgehogs and goes well mixed with other foods.
- Small pieces of cooked chicken or turkey – these poultry ingredients are often included in hedgehog food mixes and provide plenty of beneficial protein for hedgehogs.
- Specifically designed hedgehog food as long as it has a suitable calcium to phosphorus ratio and doesn’t contain any of the ingredients listed in the next section. Never trust that hedgehog food is safe for hedgehogs just because it’s marketed towards them; many foods aimed at hedgehogs still contain ingredients that are (at best) not nutritionally beneficial or (at worst) harmful to their health.
These Foods Should Not be Fed to Hedgehogs
Of course, there are a lot of human foods that shouldn’t be fed to hedgehogs, most of which can be deduced by common sense.
However, there are also a lot of items that are commonly thought to be hedgehog safe, that should actually be avoided:
- Milk – contrary to popular belief, hedgehogs should not be given milk as they are actually lactose intolerant. Feeding lactose to hedgehogs can cause them to have diarrhoea. When this happens, they often become dehydrated and die.
- Bread – bread also upsets the stomach of hedgehogs and adds no nutritional value to their diet.
- Mealworms – these provide very little nutritional value and can really harm hedgehogs’ health. Mealworms have high levels of phosphate which causes hedgehogs to lose calcium. As a result, they often end up calcium deficient and develop bone disease. It’s best to just avoid them altogether.
- Sugary fruit and high-sugar foods – sugary fruit should be fed to hedgehogs only as a special treat, if at all. You must always avoid particularly sticky fruits, like raisins, as these will get stuck to the hedgehog’s teeth. The problem with sugary fruit is that it can cause tooth decay in hedgehogs. Fruit adds very little nutritional benefit to a hedgehog’s diet, and for this reason is best avoided altogether.
- Sunflower hearts – these are high in phosphorous (the negatives of which have been detailed above). They’re also very fatty. For these reasons they’re best avoided, as there are other, more nutritionally rich, foods which can help hedgehogs gain weight for the winter.
- Large kibble – this includes dog biscuits and larger cat biscuits. Anything which is too big will be too difficult for a hedgehog to eat. It may even cause them to choke, so it should be avoided. Large dog or cat biscuits can be soaked, if that’s all you have available, making them softer and easier to eat.
Wet or Dry Food?
Dry food is usually more convenient. Wet food can freeze in winter, and may attract flies in summer.
In general, dry food is also good for cleaning hedgehogs’ teeth so you should make sure to include at least some small, dry food in your hedgehogs’ diet.
However, if your hedgehogs love wet food, and you are prepared to clean up after them (they’re known for being very messy eaters!), there’s no harm in using some wet food as well.
You can leave some food out all year round, including during winter hibernation periods, to make sure that if hedgehogs do need to feed, they have options available. Place the food outside around sunset, as this is when the hedgehogs start to come out.
In early spring, putting out hedgehog food will help them as they come out of hibernation. As you can imagine, hedgehogs can be pretty hungry after all that time, and having food readily available can help them as they prepare to breed.
In summer it can get extremely hot, and this can deplete the availability of food in the wild. Hedgehogs can easily become dehydrated and lack food in this time, so it’s good to put out both water and food for them. If you choose not to put out food during summer, at least make sure there is water available.
Towards the end of summer and into autumn hedgehogs start increasing their fat reserves. This is how they prepare for the winter and their hibernation. Again, this is a valuable time to put hedgehog food out.
In winter hedgehogs should be hibernating, and hopefully you will not see much of them in your garden. However, sometimes hedgehogs do wake from their hibernation and go looking for food. This is why it’s a good idea to continue putting some food out in the winter; hedgehogs will know where to come to find food, especially if you’ve been feeding them in your garden all year long. Ideally, in winter, hedgehogs will find food quickly, and then return to hibernate.
If you notice hedgehogs returning to feed regularly through the winter, this could be a cause for concern. You should keep an eye on these hedgehogs – they may be sick and/or require extra care.
You can call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society if you need any help or advice about a sick hedgehog in your garden.
You should put out hedgehog food in a low-sided bowl or a dish; you want to ensure that hedgehogs can reach the food easily. Any dog bowls with sloping sides may be too high, and too challenging, to allow hedgehogs access to the food.
A mid-weight or heavy bowl/dish will be ideal – anything that’s too light could be easily flipped over, either by hedgehogs or other wildlife visiting your garden. Hedgehogs are more than capable of nudging bowls around, and they may find the vessel too challenging to eat from if it is too light and constantly moving.
Hedgehogs are extremely sensitive to smells, so if you buy a new bowl make sure to rinse it thoroughly with water – any synthetic smells will likely put them off. However, these smells should fade after the bowl has been outside a while.
Choose a sheltered area of the garden to place the food in; a place which isn’t too exposed. Hedgehogs will feel much more comfortable if there are shrubs or bushes within scurry-distance.
If you have a hedgehog house, you could place the food in the same area of the garden. This might encourage hedgehogs to explore the house, and also means food will be nearby should any hedgehogs choose to hibernate in there in winter.
Hedgehog Food FAQs
- Use a specific hedgehog food – most cats won’t touch these. Both cats and hedgehogs are fussy creatures; you might have to experiment to find a food that the hedgehogs like but the cats don’t.
- Place a saucer on top of the feeding dish. Cats seem to have trouble working out how to remove these, but hedgehogs push it away with no trouble at all.
- Create a feeding area in a hedgehog house so that cats and foxes can’t reach the food.
No – continue putting food out. Hedgehog hibernation patterns can differ. Some begin to hibernate as early as October, but many are still out and about at Christmas. When the really cold weather comes in January and February then most hedgehogs will go into hibernation. However, they do not hibernate continuously.
Hedgehogs may get up and forage from time to time, especially in a spell of warmer weather. When this happens, they will be desperate for some food to top them up before going back into hibernation – providing this food for them can be a lifeline. Try to make sure there is always some dried food and fresh water available if you have hedgehogs hibernating in your area.
Before encouraging hedgehogs to visit, you should make sure your garden is safe for them:
- Ensure there are no slug pellets lying around and avoid their use wherever possible.
- If you have a pond, you should provide an exit point with stones or bricks, so hedgehogs can easily climb out if they fall in.
- If you have a bonfire, don’t leave it set up for weeks. Build it immediately before lighting so hedgehogs don’t have a chance to move in. Always check for hedgehogs before lighting a bonfire or strimming an overgrown area.
To attract hedgehogs to your garden, you can start by providing a regular supplementary food supply, as well as fresh water. Using a nutritionally-balanced hedgehog food, or small cat kibble, is a good way to go.
Along with feeding hedgehogs, you can also offer them shelter. You can make a home for a hedgehog by resting a piece of board against a wall to provide a dry area. Alternatively, you can invest in a hedgehog home that will keep them snug and safe from predators. Leave an area of your garden wild and overgrown to create a good foraging area for them. Leave leaf litter and dead wood here to encourage the insects that hedgehogs love to eat.