Hedgehogs like to eat slugs and snails
The nocturnal hunters are well-known enemies of the snails.
Therefore, it makes a lot of sense 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.
Do hedgehogs even eat slimy (Spanish) slugs?
It is sometimes said that hedgehogs would not eat the slugs as they taste too bitter (especially the Spanish slug).
But this is not the true. They are a protein-rich and their preferred food.
Hedgehogs catch and roll the slugs with the front legs until they lose most of their mucus and thereafter become digestible.
The following video shows this behavior.
Video 1: Hedgehog rolls slug in the sand
It can be seen in the video that the hedgehog also is chewing on the slug. But if it really eats it, it can not be observed, since the video ends before that happens.
This can be seen in the next video (minute 2:30).
After the hedgehog rolls the slug around he eats it and immediately searches for more.
Video 2: Hedgehog cub eats slug
If slug poisons are used in the garden, they also harm the hedgehogs.
A hedgehog that eats poisoned slugs (metaldehyde), could also die. If he is lucky and he survives, he’ll probably lose his appetite for slugs.
For this reason too, slug pellets are not a good idea.
More information here: Are slug pellets dangerous?
Certainly a hedgehog will not eat hundreds of adult slugs.
But at least it helps to contain a population boom when it starts.
That is why it is a good idea to encourage hedgehogs into the garden and to create favorable conditions and habitats for them to settle.
What can you do for hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs need a lot of space and a large habitat.
Therefore, the garden should not be enclosed with fences they can’t get through. Hedgehogs like to roam around in the neighborhood.
As the name already suggests hedges are an ideal property boundary for these animals.
If in spring or autumn there is not enough food, it is possible feed hedgehogs a little.
They like to eat cat food and there is also special hedgehog food available in pet shops.
The hedgehogs should not be given milk as it can make them sick.
It is better to install a water trough or if possible a garden pond and thereby to provide access to clean and fresh water.
How to settle hedgehogs?
To make the garden really comfortable for hedgehogs, there are many possibilities.
It is a good start to create heaps of leaves in autumn and piles of twigs and small branches under which you can create a small and accessible cave with thicker logs of wood.
In these cavities, the hedgehogs can hibernate and raise their offspring in spring and summer.
The easiest way is to buy a dedicated hedgehog house.
This would provide a good shelter for the small animals and protects them from weather and enemies (by a special entrance).
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 the hedgehogs
A hedgehog house should be weatherproof and protected against moisture from below.
It needs a sheltered and secluded location in the garden and should also provide security from cats and dogs.
If these conditions come together a nice little dwelling made of natural materials is created.
If placed well under a pile of leaves and twigs the hedgehogs might move in soon.
At the least in late summer and autumn young hedgehogs in search for a new habitat will try to settle in your garden.
And if the conditions are suitable for them they may build their nest for the winter or raise their offspring next spring.
Protect hedgehogs against ticks
If you have hedgehogs in the garden, keep in mind that they can be carriers of ticks and these could then become a problem.
For those people who – like me – are especially loved by ticks, I recommend black cumin oil (“black seed”, Nigella satvia L.)
A teaspoon of oil each breakfast and the ticks will not like you anymore.
It may not deter all ticks, but from my own experience I can say more than 95 percent.
For me, black cumin oil was like a miracle, as I had previously barely dared to go into the forest or the meadow without chemical protection.
Now this is not a problem anymore. And furthermore the oil has many other health benefits.
For the hedgehogs, too, the black seed oil can be helpful.
For example, you could drip a few drops into the hedgehog’s house or, if you feed them, mix a few drops with the feed.
This benefits them if used in moderation.
(Note: One can use black cumin oil also to protect dogs but please be aware that for cats it is toxic!)
If you have some further ideas or recommendations I would be happy if you would leave a comment below.
Additional Slug Control
Some slug control methods that might interest you:
slug fences (soon)