What to feed garden hedgehogs

Hedgehogs feeding in the garden

Hedgehog numbers are declining at an alarming rate, with there thought to be less than a million now left in the wild. Supplementary feeding is crucial to help them survive.

What do hedgehogs eat?

It is a myth that hedgehogs solely or mainly eat slugs. Whilst they do occasionally like to get their teeth into a juicy fat slug, they mainly eat insects, including beetles and caterpillars. Hedgehogs are also opportunistic and will eat a wide range of other foods including birds’ eggs and small dead animals like mice.

wild hedgehog diet

wild hedgehog diet

Too many slugs, snails and earthworms are bad for them as they carry lungworm and roundworm which, in large numbers, can cause hedgehogs to become very poorly and die.

One of the best things you can do to help hedgehogs find their favourite food sources is to grow a wide variety of shrubs and plants to attract insects. Also provide plenty of piles of old logs and other hidey holes for beetles.

Providing extra food and water helps to keep hedgehogs fit and healthy and to put on weight for hibernation. It also stops them resorting to worms and slugs. Supplementary feeding is particularly important in the Spring as hedgehogs are emerging hungry from hibernation and in the Autumn to help them get up to weight for Winter. Leave out a shallow bowl of water year round.

NEVER feed hedgehogs bread and milk. They are lactose intolerant and it can make them very ill.

Also avoid dried mealworms, peanut kibble and sunflower hearts. You can find out why here.

Suitable hedgehog foods include:

  • Meaty cat or dog food (they don’t tend to like fish flavours but there is nothing wrong with feeding fish flavour. You can always mix it in with other flavours). I go for loaf varieties.
  • Cat or kitten biscuits
  • Specialist hedgehog food e.g. Spike’s or Ark Wildlife


Watching hedgehogs feeding is a popular pass time for all members of our family, including our cat Alfie!

My hedgehog hospital is entirely self funded. You can support my work by purchasing my handmade silver jewellery or by making a donation.

17 thoughts on “What to feed garden hedgehogs

    • Hi Carol, many haven’t hibernated as it has been a relatively mild winter. As long as they are over 600g and aren’t out in the day they should be fine. Suet pellets are okay as a little treat but, with the fat, they can get lodged in their jaws so sunflower hearts, kibbled peanuts, cat biscuits better 🙂

  1. JW4926

    Hi …… Will the badgers prove a problem with feeding hogs? I’ve got badgers and foxes but haven’t seen any hoggie signs …… Are gluten free cat biscuits okay for them? (Chicken of course).

  2. JW4926

    Hi – I’ve solved the badger problem …… and realised why I may not have seen hoggies … but the cat biscuit query still remains ……. all of my cats have gluten free food. Mealworms, nibs and sunflower hearts aren;t a problem …. just worried about the biscuits and cat food.

      • JW4926

        Thank you …… your new hoggie feedbox will be half under a bank at the top end of the garden with two entrances. The badgers may have been visiting for a while but I’ve only recently become aware of their presence due to the fox family’s antics late at night 🙂

  3. Hi Emma 🙂 How much should I be feeding wild hedgehogs? I’m currently feeding re-hydrated mealworms and sunflower hearts, and we have two visiting hogs, but I’m not sure how much they should have. I assume it’s best if they’re still foraging for themselves for the most part!? But we want them nice and fat for winter hibernation. Maybe this could make an interesting post? Thanks x

    • Hello! So sorry for the delay. They will be eating more wild stuff at this time of year. I tend to adjust according to the activity in the garden and what is getting eaten. I use a hedgehog feeding station so I know it is only hedgehogs that are eating and I only use dried food so it doesn’t go off. I would cut back on mealworms and sunflower hearts as they can cause problems in large quantities. A good quality kitten biscuit is good and less addictive and better for them 🙂

      • No worries, I know you’re busy caring for hogs in addition to everything else 🙂

        OK, I’ll definitely cut back then, perhaps just a treat now and then. I hope the garden is wildlife friendly enough to provide plenty of insects anyway. Kitten food is not viable until we can get a feeding station, cats would definitely have it! Thank you 😀

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