||This page has been prepared for the "UK
Wildlife: First Aid and Care" and "Hedgehogs: Health &
Management" Wildpro volumes, and is designed for the
needs of the following species: Erinaceus europaeus - West European Hedgehog
- The main prey items of hedgehogs are earthworms, insects and other arthropods. They also
take in small amounts of vegetable matter.
- Hedgehogs are nocturnal and normally feed mainly at night.
- See the individual species page for details.
- Offer a rehydration (electrolyte) solution such as Lectade (Pfizer Limited) to drink on
- Water should be freely available at all times unless the casualty is unconscious or
severely debilitated and unable to hold its head up.
- Both water and a rehydration (electrolyte) solution, in separate
shallow containers, should be
made available initially.
- Water, not milk, should be provided for all except suckling and
- Heavy straight-sided dishes are recommended to prevent the hedgehog from tipping the bowl over.
Complete liquid nutrition may be required for example due to a mouth problem or after
Suggested convalescent diets include:
Short term Maintenance Diet:
Feed mainly at night (B291.12.w12,
D24), but with small amounts of food available during the day.(D24)
- Food should be provided in measured amounts (weighed), not ad
libitum, as hedgehogs may overeat and become obese.
- In the wild a hedgehog generally fills its stomach twice in one
night, eating a total of about 71g of food every night (J180.21.w1). This can be
used as a guide for how much food to provide [note that with dry food
a smaller weight of food is required than with tinned food, but the
provision of water is even more important].
- A daily food requirement of 60-90g wet weight (18-28g dry weight)
of food per day has been calculated based on an estimated daily
energy requirement of 90-140 kcal (377-586 kJ) per day for a
500-700g hedgehog. (B228.6.w6)
- For sick and underweight individuals twice daily
provision of food is recommended. (B284.6.w6)
- For pregnant or lactating animals the amount of food
required is increased and may reach three times normal. (J213.2.w1)
Suggested short term maintenance diets include:
- A varied diet should be provided if available.
- A suggested mixed food can be prepared from tinned cat food (e.g. Whiskas, Pedigree Pet
Foods (Waltham)) mixed with insectivorous food (e.g. Prosecto, John
E. Haith), a vitamin-mineral supplement such as SA37 (Intervet) and water, plus puppy chum (Pedigree Pet
Foods (Waltham)), plus day-old chicks
(chopped for juveniles under 350g body weight). (D24)
- Hedgehogs can be maintained on a diet of tinned cat or dog food, with a
third of a standard (400g) tin provided per hedgehog per night. (B151,
- Proprietary hedgehog foods or insectivorous foods designed for birds
may be used alone or in combination with tinned foods.
- Diet may include meaty household scraps, tinned cat or dog food, raw or
cooked chicken carcasses, as well as soft fruit, nuts, soaked dog biscuits and bread
- Mealworms, mincemeat, scrambled egg, cooked chicken may be added to the diet.(D24)
- Mealworms may be used to supplement other food but are not suitable as
an exclusive diet. (B284.6.w6,
- Natural foods gathered locally (e.g. earthworms, beetles) may be given
to enrich the diet, however it must be recognised that these act as
intermediate hosts for various parasites. (B284.6.w6)
- Pelleted (dry) complete cat or dog food as part of the diet may be useful to reduce
calculus build up. Suitable foods include Hill's Canine Growth, Hills Feline Growth and
Hills Feline Maintenance (Hill's Pet Nutrition).(B151)
- Meat, cooked or uncooked, except pork, may be given. (D25)
- A bit of bran may be added to the diet when used for overwintering
hedgehogs, to add a little bulk. (V.w45)
Supplementary Feeding Hedgehogs
in your Garden:
- Tinned or dry complete dog or cat food may be provided.
- Special diets for feeding hedgehogs are available, e.g. "Spike's
dinner" (see: Spike's Site) and "Claus Hedgehog Food." (D82)
- Water should be provided as well as food. This is essential
if dry food is provided.
- To reduce the chance of other animals (e.g. neighbourhood cats)
eating the food intended for hedgehogs it should be provided in a protected
- A 16cm (6 inch) diameter 74cm (29 inches) long piece of
drainpipe, wedged with a brick on either side to keep it steady,
may be used as a feeding site, with the food, on a fresh piece of
newspaper, placed in the middle of the pipe. (D82)
- Alternatively the food may be provided under a cover of a square
of wood raised on a brick at each corner and weighted down with
another brick to prevent cats knocking the wood off to get at the
- Food may be placed under an upturned box with a hole cut in one
side to allow access by the hedgehogs. (D89)
- Dry food rather than tinned food may be advisable in winter when
hedgehogs may be hibernating as this may be left for several days
without going off. (V.w56)
N.B. The following are NOT recommended at any
- Bread-and-cow's-milk: this may cause digestive upset (diarrhoea),
particularly in juveniles, and is unsuitable nutritionally.
- Biscuits, nuts, cheese.
- (B151, B156.7.w7,