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Hedgehog FAQ [7/7] - Wild Hedgehogs
Section - <12.2> Caring for visiting hedgehogs

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Top Document: Hedgehog FAQ [7/7] - Wild Hedgehogs
Previous Document: <12.1> The hedgehog calendar
Next Document: <12.3> Feeding and caring for orphan baby hedgehogs
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Many people throughout the world, especially in Europe, have the pleasure of 
having native hedgehogs visit their backyards and gardens.  In many places 
an almost overpowering urge exists to try and help these little visitors -- 
after all, in many cases, they are doing their best to rid your garden of 
undesirable pests, besides they are irresistibly cute.

A quick point here -- this section is on naturally wild hedgehogs, and that
releasing pet hedgehogs into an environment, even one they could survive in,
in order to create a wild population, or just to dispose of a pet you no
longer want, is both cruel and dangerous, as well as illegal.  In other
words, simply don't do it.

You should probably be aware that there is an interesting side effect to 
having visiting hedgehogs in your garden, as Peter Captijn puts it:

    European hedgehogs are known to wake up people sleeping with 
    an open window, when [the hedgehogs] are mating.  I'm NOT joking: 
    people usually think there are burglars around the house and call the 

When it comes to providing food for visiting hedgehogs, the age old standard
of a saucer of milk is not a good idea, and can upset a hedgehog's stomach,
although I have no doubt that the hedgehogs dearly love it.  In general, the
same sorts of rules that apply to pet hedgehogs [6.2], also apply for people
wanting to feed wild hedgehogs.  The biggest difference probably being the
quantity -- European hedgehogs are MUCH larger than the African Pigmy
variety, and have larger appetites corresponding to their size (Something can
have a bigger appetite than Quiver?  I'd have to see that to believe it!).
This is especially so towards the late autumn when hedgehogs are preparing
for hibernation, or with nursing mothers.

If you are providing just some extra food for visiting hedgehogs, cat or dog
food makes a much better option than bread and milk.  It will also serve to
attract hedgehogs much more readily.  It also makes a good supplement to the
diet of a hedgehog naturally foraging to put on weight for hibernation.

For longer term care, such as a convalescing hedgehog, straight dog/cat food
is not the ideal food either, unless as Peter Captijn put it ``you find
hedgeballs thriving'':

    You can feed them any kind of slugs. European hedgehogs eat
    slugs, preferably by the kilo. I've heard and seen (in that
    order) them eating snails, but Morris believes they leave
    them [alone, given the choice of other foods].  (I'm not sure, 
    but they probably need the calcium from the snail's houses.) 
    Fritzsche warns about feeding weakened hedgehogs snails and 
    slugs.  The snails can be infected with lungworms (Crenosoma 
    striatum), which can kill a diseased hedgehog.  
    -- Peter Captijn

Again from Peter is the following on feeding:

    Helga Fritzsche's recipe for hedgehog food:

        500 g meager meatloaf  (I'm not into cooking as you can tell       
       	from the used words)
       	1 stroked of tablespoon lime for pets (Calcium stuff for pets)
       	1 tablespoon of linseed-oil
       	1 handful dogdinner (the hard stuff)
        1 handful oats with bearded wheat (spelt) (This comes right
       	out the dictionary.)

    Mix it and make balls from about 35 grams, put them in aluminum-
    kitchen-foil and keep them in the freezer.  She recommends
    giving food once or twice (preferably): in the morning a bit
    and in the evening more.  In the morning she gives 10 to 12
    pieces of dogfood and 6 to 8 mealworms.  (Fat ones only get
    water), in the evening one ball of 35 grams of the above, 15
    pieces of dogfood and 6 to 8 mealworms.  Everything is
    depending on the size of the hedgehog.  Keep in mind that
    European hedgehogs are bigger then African Pigmy.  She uses a
    vitamin-prep, 1 or 2 drips on the food.  All food must be on
    hedgehog temperature (at least room temperature).  By the
    way, she kills the mealworms prior to feeding so they can't
    get away.  [have you ever seen a mealworm get away from a
    hedgehog? -- Ed.]

If you can manage to tolerate handling live food enough to feed it,
most hedgehogs love to hunt a bit as suggested by Anja van der Werf:

    Please don't kill mealworms before feeding them to the animals: they 
    (the hedgehogs) have a right to have fun too.

With that comes a gentle reminder that hedgehogs which are in captivity (such
as convalescing from injury or illness), do need some entertainment -- a
barren cage means a boring life for an animal that usually spends its nights
snuffling over a surprising expanse of territory.  Do your friends a favour,
and let them play.

If you are looking after a convalescent hedgehog(s), and the weather is
turning cold, don't forget to keep your little patient warm.  Going into
hibernation when not fully healed, or without adequate winter fat reserves is
likely going to be a one-way trip.  See section [12.8] for more information
on hibernation.

User Contributions:

Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 26, 2012 @ 10:22 pm
Hi, my hedgehog started running around her cage squealing so I took her out to see what was wrong. Her genital area was inflamed and she had open sores all around that area. I gave her a bath, but I'm really worried about her. Do you have any idea what this could be?
Thank you!

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Top Document: Hedgehog FAQ [7/7] - Wild Hedgehogs
Previous Document: <12.1> The hedgehog calendar
Next Document: <12.3> Feeding and caring for orphan baby hedgehogs

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