Do badgers eat hedgehogs?

Although badgers in Britain prefer to eat a diet of earthworms, slugs and underground grubs, when these foods are in short supply, they will eat hedgehogs.

Badgers are omnivores and they will also eat toads and frogs, mice, voles, young birds, small rabbits, eggs, and even small lambs when other food sources aren’t available.

Badgers will eat nearly all of the hedgehog, but they leave the skin with the prickles attached.

Some people believe that the increasing badger populations in Britain is responsible for the recent decline in the hedgehog population. While it is true that badgers will eat hedgehogs and compete with them for food (earthworms and slugs), the fall in the number of hedgehogs is also closely linked to the loss of hedgerows, an important habitat of the hedgehog.

Many of the hedgehog rescue centres around Britain are reluctant to release hedgehogs back into the wild in areas that have high badger populations.

In addition to badgers, in some parts of Europe weasels and wild ferrets will eat hedgehogs, and the Eurasian eagle owl often east hedgehogs, silently tracking them down at night before they have a chance to roll into a ball.

What next? Click the links to learn more about hedgehogs and badgers.

Badger Facts

Here are some facts about badgers.

  • There are 11 different species of badger and badgers can be found in North America, Africa, Europe and Asia.
  • The European badger (Meles meles) is one of the largest of all of the other badger species.

  • Other badger species include, the hog badger, the Japanese badger, the Burmese ferret badger, the honey badger (sometimes called a ratel) and the Asian badger.
  • Badgers have short, powerful legs for digging.
  • They have black and white faces and grey bodies.
European Badger (Source)
  • Badgers live underground in burrows called setts.
  • A badgers sett is quite complex, with different interlinked chambers. They usually have several entrances and are shared by a group of badgers (sometimes referred to as a clan).
  • They are nocturnal (come out at night and sleep during the day).
  • They can run at speeds approaching 20 mph for very bursts.
  • Badgers are omnivores (they eat both meat and vegetation). The European badger will eat earthworms, eggs, nesting birds, insects, grubs, roots, fruit, small mammals, frogs. In the United Kingdom, badgers will eat hedgehogs.
  • Honey badgers from the United States have been known to eat porcupines and snakes.
  • In 2013 in the United Kingdom, badgers were culled in Somerset and Gloucestershire in an attempt to control the spread on bovine tuberculosis. This action was controversial and some people believed that it was unnecessary and ineffective.
  • Badgers can be vicious, particularly when they are cornered.
  • Male badgers are known as boars, females are called sows and their young are cubs.
  • In the United Kingdom, badgers are sometimes called brocks.
  • Badger hair was traditionally used for shaving brushes and some paintbrushes.
  • Badger characters have appeared in many works of fiction, including: the Redwall series by Brain Jacques, the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, The Wind in the Willows by Winston Graham and Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl.
  • In Disney’s Robin Hood animation, Friar Tuck is a badger.
  • Wisconsin’s state animal is a badger.