Earthworms are some of the most popular food choices for so many animals whether it be rats, birds, foxes or even snakes. They provide an easy to obtain and great source of valuable nutrients.
In some areas of the world, such as China and the Philippines, they are even eaten by people as a delicacy thanks to their healthy benefits.
While popular and tasty among animals, not all worms are edible by all creatures, with some providing all the necessary nutrients needed to remain healthy, and others being quite harmful to an animal’s development and wellbeing.
For hedgehogs especially, it is important to know the distinction, nematodes, larvae and flatworms for example contain many pesticides and can easily be scooped up by hedgehogs who will feel some nasty side effects.
However, good worms that clean up the soil by consuming organic matter are a crucial part of a hedgehog’s nutritional diet.
So where do earthworms lie? They’re both popular as an animal snack, but are also incredibly common, often sprouting up in any patches of land and soil, whether it be a park or back garden.
Here is everything you need to know about earthworms, and if they agree with hedgehogs or not.
Is It Safe For Hedgehogs To Eat Earthworms?
Earthworms, as the name would suggest, love burrowing around in the soil and so can be easily picked up by keen smelling hedgehogs rummaging through tall grass.
Luckily for the small predators, earthworms are not just safe but are a staple part of their diet along with other critters like beetles, caterpillars and slugs.
Both hedgehogs and earthworms are nocturnal, which is perfect for the hungry hedgehog, and while they will feed on them far less during the hibernation months of October to March, from April to October they will eat them whenever they find them.
For domesticated hedgehogs, earthworms can be purchased from most bait and pet retail stores and fed normally like any other insect or small creature, however it can also be worth dedicating a quiet section of your garden to let the pet hog snuffle for insects occasionally on his own.
Recent studies have suggested that hedgehogs will only use food in gardens as a supplement to their natural diet, so rather than being entirely reliant, it can be a great way to provide just that extra bit of nutritional value.
How To Feed Earthworms To Hedgehogs
For a domesticated hedgehog, you can buy earthworms from most bait and pet retail stores, however a more unique method that can encourage your hog to go snuffling for some is to allow small pockets of the garden to become overgrown, or even adding a log pile or pond.
This will make the hog eager to rummage through the tall grass.
Earthworms are universally loved by all hedgehogs, and unfortunately in recent years studies have been suggesting hedgehog numbers have fallen by as much as 50%, so it can also be very generous to make pathways for other hedgehogs to come into the garden and find some worms.
An easy method to encourage this is making a ‘hedgehog hole’ sized gap in your fence or hedge, so they can travel from one garden to another.
Male hedgehogs, especially during mating season, travel through quite a few gardens at nighttime.
Also try to improvise with a ramp or mound if you have a large pond, as while hedgehogs can swim, they can’t do it very well.
If you want to be a bit creative, you can even consider building a little hedgehog house to let them know they are welcome, if you have one hog already this could even lead to new residences quickly.
What About Other Worms?
It is not advised to feed a pet all kinds of worms until you know exactly what is edible and healthy, and what may carry pesticides and parasites. Luckily for hungry hedgehogs, you don’t need to worry as they will eat just about all worms including super worms, wax worms, horn worms and even maggots which all contain healthy nutrients for a hog to consume.
The only worm a hedgehog should try to avoid are mealworms, they can be hard to digest and cause some nasty health problems when eaten in large quantities.
Dried mealworms are also no better but actually even worse, containing next to no nutritional value.
How To Keep Earthworms
If you do decide to buy earthworms from a bait or retail store as a quick and nutritional snack, they are often more than comfortable in the plastic container or bag they come in, just make sure to keep these in a cool temperature and avoid putting them in the refrigerator, despite what some sources may advise.
If you want to buy them in bulk or keep them as a long term food source, it is worth investing in a large worm keeper.
You will be able to feed them an array of foods not just including green kitchen waste, but even mash potato or oatmeal in small quantities.
Hedgehogs love earthworms, and they are a crucial part of their nutritional diet, just try to steer them away from mealworms to avoid giving them an upset stomach.