Hedgehogs can take care of themselves, only sick or weakened animals should be fed. The wrong food can also damage the hedgehog.© brianwhittaker / stock.adobe.com
If a hedgehog is sighted in the garden, it is almost automatically considered hungry and in need of help and supplied with milk or cat food. Many people misjudge the situation and do more harm to the animals than is really helped. In some situations, hedgehogs actually need our help. How you behave correctly towards the animals and what really belongs in the hedgehog food bowl can be read below.
Hedgehogs generally do not need feeding!
Normally, nature offers the hedgehogs a well-filled menu and it is not necessary to feed them. A hedgehog rarely misses a meal and will willingly accept the food offer of concerned animal lovers. However, the constant cycle of food can disrupt the animals' cycle. If food becomes scarce in nature, hedgehogs retire to their winter quarters for hibernation. If there is enough food when it gets colder, the animals will miss the winter rest.
Young hedgehogs seem particularly vulnerable to us. If they are fed regularly, they rely on the food bowl and do not learn how to look for insects as nature intended. In addition, most people don't know what really belongs on a hedgehog's menu. Malnutrition can result in developmental disorders, malformations and indigestion. If feeding points are created, they must be cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis. If different hedgehogs visit the feeding place, diseases can be transmitted.
Attention: The basic feeding of hedgehogs is strongly discouraged. The animals are only dependent on our help in certain exceptional cases.
When should you feed hedgehogs?Hedgehogs have to reach a certain weight for hibernation - © ZIHE / stock.adobe.com
In spring and summer it is usually not necessary to feed hedgehogs with food. Depending on the weather conditions, hedgehogs prepare for hibernation between October and November. Animal lovers should now take a closer look at hedgehogs roaming around.
In order for the animals to survive winter unscathed, they must have reached a certain weight. Mother animals, which have lost energy due to the birth and rearing of the young animals, are particularly at risk. It is often difficult for offspring born late to gobble up the necessary winter bacon.
A rule of thumb:
- Young animals must weigh 500 to 700 grams
- older hedgehogs should weigh 1,000 grams
Of course, this is not immediately apparent. The following signs indicate that the hedgehog needs help:
- Hedgehog forages during the day
- his eyes are sunken
- There are indentations behind the head
- his stature looks pear-shaped
If the hedgehogs are found in the garden in autumn, they are fed outdoors. Hedgehogs that are still out in the open after frost or have awakened from hibernation too early must be cared for in human care.
Tip: Local shelters or hedgehog helpers can be contacted.
After hibernation, the starved animals have to get food quickly. In mild weather, sufficient insects will be out and about. Unstable weather and frost in the ground can justify feeding.
What can hedgehogs eat?Do not feed earthworms or snails - © inkevalentin / stock.adobe.com Unfortunately, when feeding hedgehogs there is an increasing lack of knowledge about the species-appropriate nutrition of the animals.
The hedgehog's natural menu is as follows:
- be crazy
Anyone looking for snails and earthworms is not doing the weakened animals a favor. These small animals can transmit internal parasites. Healthy and strong hedgehogs can defend themselves against this. On the other hand, natural food can become a danger for weak and sickly animals.
Dry hedgehog food
Ready-to-use hedgehog dry food is commercially available. However, this is only suitable to a limited extent and should not be used as a complete feed for a longer period. When buying, pay attention to the composition.
Some mixes mostly contain nuts, grains or fruit. A hedgehog in the wild only eats these food components in exceptional situations and can only digest them with difficulty. Those who use ready-made mixtures should pay attention to a high proportion of raw protein (30 percent and more) and raw fat (from 20 percent).
Tip: We made sure which ready food is suitable for hedgehogs and came across the Dehner Natura hedgehog food on Amazon. Although it is a little more expensive, it meets the requirements for good hedgehog food.
Cat food is generally considered the ideal hedgehog food. However, this is only partially true. There are clear quality differences in cat food. Cheap food has an exceptionally low proportion of meat and is largely made from slaughterhouse waste and artificial additives. Inferior cat food often contains sugar.
Cheap cat food in hedgehogs leads to deficiency symptoms, diarrhea, loss of sting and tooth problems.
Wet food for cats is suitable for feeding when the Meat content at 60 percent and above lies. Cat food can be upgraded with dry hedgehog food, cooked meat, fish or egg.
Assemble nutritious hedgehog food
Anyone can mix a nutritious hedgehog food themselves:
- cat food
- Dry hedgehog food
- wheat bran
- cooked meat
- boiled egg
- boiled fish
Tip: Dog owners can also use their four-legged friends' wet food. Cat food is generally more suitable due to the higher protein content.
Hedgehogs taste these delicacies:
- Ground beef - fried with sunflower oil or corn oil
- Poultry meat - cooked with bones
- Eggs - unseasoned scrambled eggs or hard-boiled
Only fresh water belongs in the drinking bowl. Weakened animals that eat poorly can get warm water, chamomile or fennel tea, if necessary administered with a disposable syringe.
Tip: If a hedgehog eats badly, ripe avocado can be given.
What can hedgehogs not eat?Hedgehogs cannot tolerate milk! - © Alexey Khromushin / stock.adobe.com The biggest sin on the hedgehog's menu is the almost obligatory bowl of milk. Hedgehogs suffer from lactose intolerance and consequently cannot digest the milk sugar contained in whole milk. The result is severe diarrhea. Already severely weakened animals can die from it.
The following foods are also poorly tolerated by hedgehogs:
- dried fruit
The hedgehog food should not contain any spices. Therefore, the leftovers from the family table do not belong in the bowl. Meat, fish or eggs should never be fed raw.
It is widely believed that mealworms enrich the hedgehog's menu. It is not really necessary to add mealworms. The number should be reduced to three worms daily. Mealworms remove the vitamins from the hedgehog. As a result, paralysis can occur.
As already mentioned, sick and weakened animals cared for by humans should under no circumstances be fed with snails, earthworms or other living small animals. These are considered to be carriers of lung worms or intestinal hair worms. The natural food for weak and underweight animals, which are usually already contaminated by parasites, can become a deadly trap.
For fast readers: Hedgehog menu
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