In the US hedgehogs are not a native species, and you will not see any in the wild. While they are now legal to have as pets, to own a hedgehog, you need a specific license.
If you own a hedgehog, or are interested in this fascinating creature, you may be wondering what sort of diet they eat in the wild. Interestingly, their wild diet is quite varied, and some of the food they eat may surprise you!
In this article, we will be chatting you through everything you need to know about what a hedgehog will eat in the wild.
Where do hedgehogs live?
Before we jump into what hedgehogs eat in the wild, it is useful to know where hedgehogs can be found. As we have already discussed, hedgehogs are not native to the US, as a result you will not find any in the wild.
However, in Europe, New Zealand, Africa, and Asia, wild hedgehogs can be found. Interestingly, they can live in a wide range of different temperatures and habitats. Some of these include savannas, forests, and deserts.
However, they are most known for being found in the gardens of Suburban homes in the UK.
They prefer to have their nests in dry areas, and they will find home in places such as log piles, leaf piles, and in rabbit holes. This is why it is important in the UK to check for hedgehogs so that their nests are not disturbed.
Many people choose to add hedgehog homes in their garden to help provide a safe home and shelter for hedgehogs. These prove to be great in the winter months when there is a lot of snow and rainfall.
What can wild hedgehogs eat?
Now that you know a little of the types of habitat that hedgehogs live in, this can help you to learn more about the types of food that they eat. When looking at a wild hedgehog’s diet, it is not too dissimilar to the diet of a hedgehog that is kept as a pet.
However, as hedgehogs do not have a steady source of food in the wild, they have to eat a wide range of things.
This is to ensure that they are receiving all the food needed to survive, especially in the harsher months when it is a lot colder, and food is scarce.
The vast majority of a hedgehog’s diet is made up of bugs. These bugs are invertebrates, and are fairly easy for hedgehogs to catch and eat. Some of the most common types of bugs that wild hedgehogs consume are beetles, caterpillars, worms, slugs, and earwigs.
These insects are in abundance in the wild, and are widely accessible for the hedgehogs to eat. As these bugs are more popular at different times of the year, the types of bugs the hedgehogs will eat does vary slightly.
Hedgehogs will search and hunt in leaves, the ground and log piles. These are common places to find bugs. Thanks to their strong sense of smell, and their great hearing, they are able to seek out their prey easily.
It is important to remember that hedgehogs are opportunistic eaters. This means that when they are available they will eat other types of food in addition to bugs. This can cover a wide variety of different types of food.
Some of these include carrion, and eggs. These eggs will typically be eggs of birds that have fallen from a nest.
In addition to this, they are known to eat deceased animals too. They are known to eat animals such as rodents and frogs too. Hedgehogs are not overly fussy creatures, and in the wild they will eat whatever is available to them.
While a pet hedgehog can become fussy, and may only want to eat meal worms, wild hedgehogs do not have this luxury, and have to eat what is available to them.
Fruits and vegetables
While insects and meat do make up the majority of a hedgehogs diet, they will eat fruits and vegetables too. If they need to, different types of fallen fruit are a great option for them to consume.
It is important to remember that hedgehogs are naturally insectivores. This means that the majority of their diet needs to be from insects, it is around 70% of their diet. However, if these are not available, this is when they will turn to alternative foods.
Cat and Dog Food
Many people in the UK choose to leave out cat or dog food for hedgehogs, especially in the winter months. For wild hedgehogs, this can be a lifeline and can provide them with the nutrition and food they need to survive.
While it is likely that the majority of hedgehogs may not ever come into contact with cat or dog food, if they are housed in a garden, they may potentially consume this.
We hope you have found this article useful and insightful. As you can see, wild hedgehogs do have quite a varied diet. As they cannot rely on an owner feeding them, they are opportunistic, and will often eat what they can find.
However, they are insectivores, and this does make up the vast majority of their diet. They will typically hunt at night, as this is the safest time for them, and they will search through holes, and leaf piles mainly.
Their strong sense of smell and good hearing certainly comes in handy at night, helping them to hunt. They are happy to hunt for their food, and they are good at this. As they are so small, they do not need to eat a large amount of food per day.
The bugs they eat tend to be fairly slow movers as hedgehogs are not overly fast creatures. Insects such as grasshoppers and crickets are quite fast, and are not often caught by hedgehogs. However, if they are caught, hedgehogs do enjoy consuming them.