What do hedgehogs eat?

  • European hedgehogs (the species found in Britain) mainly eat insects and other mini-beasts. Slugs, earthworms, beetles, caterpillars, earwigs, millipedes and other insects all form part of their diet.
  • Hedgehogs are omnivores and, in addition to insects, they will also eat birds’ eggs, young birds, frogs and fish.

  • On occasion they will also eat fruit and mushrooms.
  • Every night, the European hedgehog travels several kilometres in search of food.
  • If you are putting out food for hedgehogs in your garden you should not leave milk or bread (as traditionally recommended – hedgehogs are lactose intolerant). Instead, you should go for meat-based dog or cat food (without gravy), dried meal worm, or unsalted nuts.
  • Hedgehogs can hibernate during the winter months when their food sources (insects) are more scarce. In order to give themselves a good chance of surviving hibernation, European hedgehogs must weigh at least 600 grams. (Click here to learn more about hedgehog hibernation)
  • Hedgehogs are very noisy eaters.
  • Garden centres and pet shops now produce hedgehog feed for people to safely feed hedgehogs in their gardens.
  • Not  all individual hedgehogs like the same things. They can be quite fussy eaters and each individual has their preferences.

What next? Discover more hedgehog facts.

Are hedgehogs lactose intolerant?

Yes, hedgehogs are naturally lactose-intolerant. They will eat most dairy products, but will experience stomach problems afterwards. Cottage cheese and plain yoghurt cause fewer problems to hedgehogs than milk and regular cheese.

In Britain, people traditionally fed the hedgehogs that visited their garden bread and cow’s milk. However, this is not recommended.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society advises that hedgehogs can be fed with any of the following foods: white meat-based dog food (without gravy), cooked minced beef or lamb, bran, unsweetened muesli, small amounts of raisins or banana, dry cat food, or hedgehog biscuits. Water should be offered instead of milk.

In the wild, British hedgehogs’ diet is mainly made up of insects and other mini beasts. More than half of their food intake comes from earthworms, beetles and caterpillars, but they will also eat slugs and snails, millipedes, earwigs, and larvae. Hedgehogs will also, from time to time, eat small mammals and birds’ eggs.

What next? Follow the link to discover more hedgehog facts.