We all know by now that we should be doing our bit to help hedgehogs. This includes feeding them, especially during the winter months when food for hedgehogs is scarce. This can lead lots of people to wonder what on earth hedgehogs eat.
Hedgehogs that live in the wild who can find their own food tend to rely on insects and invertebrates.
For example, they like to chow down on worms, earwigs, caterpillars, slugs, and beetles, as well as other creepy crawlies. They may also eat fallen fruit and the eggs of birds who dwell on the ground.
That being said, as we have mentioned, these insects (and many other sources of nutrition for hedgehogs) can be hard to come by in the winter. As such, we need to feed them other dietary sources.
In this article, we are going to be exploring whether hedgehogs can eat birdseed and some other bird food.
We often get asked if hedgehogs can eat bird food as most households already have this readily available during the winter months, so if you have ever wondered the same thing, keep on reading….
Can hedgehogs eat bird seed?
You may well have seen these spiky little cuties snarfing down the bird seed that has spilled in your garden.
As such, you may think that you can safely feed your nocturnal visitors some bird seed to keep them full through the winter. However, you should take care when feeding hedgehogs with bird seed.
Whilst small amounts of bird seed are fine for a hedgehog (in fact they really enjoy it) if eaten in large quantities it can be bad for them and cause issues.
The main issue that you should be aware of in hedgehogs that eat bird seed is Metabolic Bone Disease. This is a result of an imbalance between calcium and phosphorus in the body and can cause issues such as weak bones, weakened muscles, and even heart issues.
As such, it can be deadly in hedgehogs. The main cause of this calcium and phosphorus imbalance is poor diet, and since bird seed is not the best dietary source for hedgehogs, this is a huge risk!
The ideal ratio of calcium to phosphorus is 2:1 or 1:1. Bird seed, which often contains peanuts, can have ratios as high as 1:6! Likewise, mealworms which are often fed to birds have an even worse ratio of 1:15.
With this in mind, whilst a small amount of bird seed is fine for hedgehogs, you should not make a habit of it.
It’s fine if they have managed to sneak some off the food before you get a chance to notice it, but do make sure to feed them something more suited to them such as specially designed hedgehog muesli, or even cat food! Keep the bird seed up high and sweep up any seed that has fallen immediately.
Do hedgehogs eat bird fat balls?
Yes, hedgehogs certainly do eat bird fat balls. In fact, given the chance, they will eat anything they come across as they are scavenger animals by nature. That being said, perhaps the better question would be “should hedgehogs eat bird fat balls?” because the answer to this might be slightly more helpful.
In general, whilst hedgehogs will certainly eat most things they come across, they don’t always make the best food choices. Typically, a hedgehog needs a diet that is low in fat. Of course, fat balls, as the name suggests, are laden with fat. This means that they cannot provide an adequate diet for hedgehogs.
Bird fat balls are typically made using insects, hence why they are so attractive to hedgehogs. With this in mind, a small amount should be fine. Indeed, they will enjoy it! So, if a hedgehog manages to steal your bird fat ball before your flying visitors get it, try not to panic too much.
You should just ensure that they do not make a habit of it and instead palace out hedgehog food or at least something a bit more nutritious for them such as cat food or fruit.
Can hedgehogs eat bird suet pellets?
Hedgehogs can eat a small amount of bird suet pellets. That being said, like the bird fat balls, bird suet pellets are not particularly great for a hedgehog. This is because they are made with animal fat.
A diet that is high in fat can cause obesity and other issues in hedgehogs.
Like the fat balls, suet pellets are often made with insects or fruit (or both), making them appealing to hedgehogs, but the fat content will tell you that it is not ideal. Don’t panic if they manage to snarfle a small number of suet pellets, but ensure they have some more adequate food available.