How to Attract Hedgehogs to Your Garden | Hedgehog-friendly Environment, Food, and House

Not only are hedgehogs cute, but they are beneficial animals.

These nocturnal hunters are natural enemies of slugs and snails.

It makes a lot of sense, therefore, to provide a habitat for these lovely animals.

If you can coax a hedgehog family into your garden, you can be sure they’ll be valuable allies in the fight against slugs.

This article will show you what you can do to make your garden hedgehog-friendly.

hedgehog cup in the garden
Hedgehogs are welcome in the garden.

Do Hedgehogs Eat Even Slimy (Spanish) Slugs?

It is sometimes said that hedgehogs will not eat slugs as they taste too bitter (especially the Spanish slug).

But this is not correct. Slugs are protein-rich and one of their preferred foods (Yalden 1976: The food of the hedgehog in England).

Hedgehogs catch and roll the slugs with their front legs until they lose most of their mucus and after that become digestible.

The following video shows this behavior.

Video: A hedgehog eating a slug

As seen in the video, the hedgehog first rolls the slug around and after eating it, immediately searches for more.

A word of warning:

If you use slug pellets in your garden, they will also harm hedgehogs.

Hedgehogs that eat the pellets or poisoned slugs/snails could die.

If they only eat a few, they may survive, but will probably lose their appetite for slugs.

This is one of the reasons why the use of slug pellets is not a good idea.

Click on the link for more information: Why are slug pellets dangerous?

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Hedgehogs will help to contain a slug population boom from the minute it starts.

So, encourage hedgehogs into your garden and create favorable conditions and habitats for them to settle in.

Hedgehogs are not native to North America, and they are declining in the UK.

hedgehogs need water
Provide access to fresh water. Please be aware that hedgehogs do not tolerate milk.

What Can You Do for Hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs need a lot of space and an extensive habitat.

Only if they find enough food can they survive and settle in your area.

One garden alone is not enough.

So, do not enclose your garden by fences they cannot get through.

Maybe you could add a little doorway (‘a hedgehog-highway’) for them to slip through.

As their name suggests, hedges are ideal for these animals. They just love them.

If you provide wide hedges, they will find food there and may even be able to build their home inside one.

Video: Hedgehogs in your garden: tips and tricks

Is It Okay to Feed Hedgehogs?

If in spring or autumn food is scarce, then it is possible to feed them.

Please do not feed them in winter (late November–March).

At that time, it is normal for them not to find enough food.

Not finding food is a trigger for them to start to hibernate.

Hedgehogs like to feed on cat food. Please do not use fish. Wild hedgehogs do not eat fish and may not tolerate it well.

Please be aware that cat food contains sugar – up to 2% (Ellingson et al. 2016). Wet cat food is especially problematic.

Cat food is in fact “fast food” for hedgehogs. Extensive feeding could distract them from searching for healthier food.

Do not feed bread either; it will make them feel sick.

Please prefer wet to dry hedgehog food because it better reflects their natural diet (Gimmel et al. 2019).

Hedgehog Food

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More important than food, however, is access to clean water.

You could use a deep plate and fill it with water regularly.

Even better is an accessible garden pond.

As described in the video, make sure there is an area for hedgehogs to get out of the water if they fall in.

A pond will not only provide water, it will also boost the biodiversity in your garden.

This will help hedgehogs to find sufficient food for themselves.

Slugs alone are not enough; hedgehogs also need insects as food to be able to survive.

How to create an insect-friendly garden.

hedgehogs need a hedgehoghouse
Hedgehogs search for a safe spot to create their shelter.

How to Provide a House for Hedgehogs

A good starting point is to create heaps of leaves, twigs and small branches in autumn.

Underneath, you can create a small, accessible cave with thicker logs of wood.

In these shelters, the hedgehogs can hibernate and raise their offspring in spring and summer.


Video: More information about a hedgehog-friendly garden

The easy way, of course, is to buy a dedicated hedgehog house.

This will provide proper shelter for the animals and protect them from weather and natural enemies.

When buying a house, don’t go for the cheapest option; invest in something sturdy and durable.

Houses made of cheap composite woods won’t last long, and when they start to rot and mold, they can cause health problems for hedgehogs.

Hedgehog houses

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A hedgehog house needs a quiet, sheltered location in the garden and should also provide security against cats and dogs.

If these conditions are met, a hedgehog will be happy to settle down.

In late summer and autumn especially, young hedgehogs searching for a new habitat will try to settle and hibernate in your garden.

And if the conditions are suitable for them, they may build a nest to raise their offspring next spring.

hedgehogs are shy
Hedgehogs can be protected against ticks with black seed oil.

How to Protect Hedgehogs Against Ticks

If you have hedgehogs in the garden, keep in mind that they can be carriers of ticks, which could become an issue.

For those like me, who are especially loved by ticks, I recommend black seed oil (Nigella sativa L.).

A teaspoon of oil at breakfast and ticks will not like you anymore.

It may not deter all ticks, but from my experience, I can say that more than 95 percent will be repelled.

For me, black seed oil was like a miracle, as I had previously barely dared to go into the forest or meadow without chemical protection.

This is no longer a difficulty. Furthermore, the oil has many other health benefits.

Black Seed Oil

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For example, you could put a few drops into the hedgehog house or, if you feed them, mix a few drops with the feed.

That benefits them if used in moderation.

Please note: You can also use black seed oil to protect dogs, but be aware that for cats it is toxic!

If you have any further ideas or recommendations, I would be happy if you would leave a comment below.

Video: Hedgehog preparing a slug

Additional Slug Control

Other slug control methods that might interest you:

How to attract natural enemies of slugs and snails

Slug barriers

Slug deterrent coating

Copper against slugs

Slug-resistant vegetables and herbs

Slug-resistant flowers and flowering plants: perennials and annuals

Homemade electric slug fence

DIY slug control

Runner ducks against slugs and snails

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Mindful consumption: Please only buy what you or your garden really need.

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6 thoughts on “How to Attract Hedgehogs to Your Garden | Hedgehog-friendly Environment, Food, and House”

  1. We’ve bought a hedgehog house and food. We noticed a slug inside but then another night some of the pellets had been eaten so we put a camera inside. It was triggered off by a slug, so will a slug eat the pellets?

  2. I notice your comment on hedgehogs liking meal worms., only feed live ones as dried mealworm is bad for the hedgehogs Muscular skeletal.

    • Hi Carole,

      thank you for your comment. Could you add a source to your claim?

      May your hedgehogs be happy and healthy,


  3. We bought a wooden hedgehog house. We have hedgehogs going in and out we are leaving food out it is mr Johnson hedgehog food pellets they are going mad for it. Are we ok to continue feeding them now in December they seem very happy and healthy eating.

    • Normally, it is recommended to stop feeding in late autumn at the latest. Otherwise the hedgehogs do not realize that the time has come for their hibernation.

      May you and your hedgehogs stay healthy!

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