Hedgehogs are cute fellows. Most garden owners are happy if they accommodate one of them or even a family of hedgehogs in the garden. However, you should definitely leave the hedgehogs alone and not bother them. They usually don’t need any food either. Exceptions are injured, sick hedgehogs, orphaned hedgehog children and hedgehogs that are still out and about after the onset of winter.
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Feeding hedgehogs makes sense?
One should not feed hedgehogs, except in exceptional circumstances. Hedgehogs usually always find enough food. Even if they sometimes have to make a little effort, it’s not a problem for them. Overweight, on the other hand, is very unfavourable, it restricts their freedom of movement and often leads to illness. If you want to do something good for hedgehogs, you should set out a shallow bowl of water.
If you feed hedgehogs in autumn or even in winter, it can happen that they do not go into hibernation. In general, it can happen that hedgehog food attracts foxes, cats, rats and mice.
There are exceptions here too. If a hedgehog wakes up from hibernation too early, he should be fed because he hasn’t found much yet. However, he may only get very little at first. The amount can be increased from day to day.
Even if a hedgehog is too light to go into hibernation, it should be fed. This is described in detail below.
Hedgehogs hibernate in winter. During this time they do not need to eat. However, they sometimes interrupt their sleep for a few days and then go on the road. So if you meet such a fellow in the wintry garden, you should watch him. If he looks well fed, if he’s in danger or if he’s pushed, he’ll curl up into a ball, if he’s active and agile, everything’s fine. You can offer the hedgehog some food, but you don’t have to worry about it. The four-legged friend usually withdraws to his winter quarters after a while. Injured or sick hedgehogs should be taken to the vet!
Hedgehogs that are out and about in ice and snow are the exception. Usually, the animals are more likely to be seen in the fall before they retire to their winter quarters. However, a hedgehog must have a minimum weight before it goes to sleep so that it can survive the winter like this. It is assumed that a young hedgehog should weigh between 600 and 700 grams. In an adult animal it is about 1,000 to 1,400 grams.
Hedgehogs that have been taken into care should also hibernate for the winter. If they do not have enough weight, they are not released into the wild until spring and allowed to overwinter in a domestic environment. Before the hedgehog is brought to its sleeping quarters, it needs food.
How long should a hedgehog be fed?
In general, in any case, until it is brought to the winter quarters, which should have temperatures like outdoors. Above 6° C are unfavourable. The hedgehog only falls into an exhausting twilight sleep.
You continue to feed them even in the winter quarters. At some point the hedgehog stops eating, and then feeding is stopped. It can take days, but also weeks, until the time comes.
If a hedgehog shows no signs of hibernating at all, it should be deprived of all food for 3 days. Fresh water must always be available! In 99% of cases, starvation is enough for hibernation to begin. Nevertheless, you should have an emergency ration within reach, in any case water and some dry cat food.
What should be fed?
It is important that a hedgehog does not receive an unbalanced diet in winter. In nature, the little Stachler also make use of a very varied offer.
- Cat and dog food, both canned and dry
- Hard-boiled or scrambled eggs
- Cooked poultry meat or minced meat, which should be well done.
- Corn oil is cheap for frying, it is particularly suitable for hedgehogs.
- Dry hedgehog food is also cheap, but not as the only food.
- Wheat bran and oat flakes are also healthy and are readily accepted.
- It is important that the food is neither too hot nor too cold (refrigerator).
What shouldn’t be fed?
Even if we only mean well, everything must not be fed. Hedgehogs have their own diet. Fruit and vegetables are not part of a hedgehog’s plan. Many people make this mistake. The hedgehog is so often depicted with an apple on its back. Vegetable food is completely unsuitable for the hedgehog. The simply built gastrointestinal tract cannot process these things.
Dairy products are not healthy at all. You will not be tolerated. In the worst case, a hedgehog reacts so badly to the lactose that it eventually dies.
Nuts and raisins are also unsuitable, as are baby food and baby food.
How much should be fed?
How much to feed depends on body weight and health. On average, you feed as much as fits in a 150 g yoghurt pot every day. You weigh the hedgehog every day. In the beginning, a weight gain of 15 to 20 g per day is good, later 10 to 15 g is sufficient.
When and how should you feed?
It is enough to feed once a day. The best time for this is in the evening. However, if you see a very restless hedgehog in your enclosure, you can also offer food in between. Weakened animals usually only eat small amounts of food. Here you have to offer food several times a day, always only small portions. Leftovers are disposed of. The bowls must be cleaned thoroughly every day!
The Feeding Place
If you set out food for hedgehogs in winter, other animals will also be attracted. Cats and also foxes, rats and mice attack the feeding bowls. Therefore, a feeding station must be built in such a way that, if possible, none of the animals can get to the food. A low box (600 x 400 x 120 mm) in which an entrance hole is cut (10 x 10 cm) is ideal. The box should be weighed down with stones. It is good to place a brick in the house in such a way that it forms a corridor that leaves a passage to the lining at the back. In order to block a fox’s entrance, you have to build in a right-angled branch so that it doesn’t come around the corner. It is better to use a feed box without a bottom. Hedgehogs often defecate where they eat and a bottomed box needs to be cleaned daily.Hedgehog excrement from the lawn is quickly collected.
If the hedgehog does not eat on its own or cannot, it must be force-fed. That sounds worse than it is, it’s for his own good and survival. A small disposable syringe is used. Thick gloves are needed. The hedgehog is turned onto its back and placed in a semi-sitting position. So he can’t choke. Special food from the vet is suitable as food. This can be diluted with chamomile tea so that it fits better through the syringe opening.
If you don’t have the special food to hand, you can use low-lactose, ready-to-use cat milk in an emergency, but not for longer. About 10 to 30 g are given five times a day, always in the side of the mouth.
It is important to provide food in the enclosure. The hedgehog has to eat independently as soon as possible.
Feeding back and forth, the first thing I would do is take a found hedgehog to the vet. The animals are full of fleas. I’m not talking about two or three, there are hundreds. Everything the hedgehog was transported in is full of fleas. The little one has to be escaped first. In addition, you learn so important things about the state of health and whether a hedgehog breeding station is not the more suitable place. Of course, the ideal would be to release the hedgehog back into the wild where it used to live. Anyone who trusts themselves to be able to care for and feed them should definitely try it. However, not everything should be fed. If you want to take responsibility, you have to do it right.