One great mystery surrounds the hedgehog. For an animal that reputedly eats slugs and snails, why doesn’t it eat more of them? Many of us have gardens containing sufficient slugs and snails to feed a family, possibly even an army, of hedgehogs, but the prickly hogs often seem to ignore them.
The truth is that both slugs and snails are low down on the hedgehog’s list of preferred food since these mammals are highly omnivorous, eating a great variety of different fare. Reference books will tell you that they dine mainly on earthworms, beetles and caterpillars. They will also certainly consume the eggs of groundnesting birds if they get the chance and they are known to eat fruits and even mushrooms.
You won’t be surprised to learn that most hedgehogs much prefer I Love Hedgehogs™ to even the juiciest slug. If you encourage them into your garden there’s a good chance that they will eat a slug or two - but don’t expect too much. Most of us like to see hedgehogs because they are endearing characters and one of the few wild mammals that doesn’t run away when it sees us. There’s a good reason for this, of course, since they are not built for speed or sprinting away from trouble but prefer to roll into a ball and rely on their spines for protection.
Spines offer great protection from almost everything except cars and badgers. If you live in a part of the country where there is a high badger population, then hedgehogs will certainly be rare and may even be absent. Motor vehicles also kill many hedgehogs but it is generally believed that more die from starvation during the winter than any other cause.
So if you want to help hogs, give them plenty of food to fatten up before hibernation and provide them with a safe and cosy hibernation home such as our Hedgehog Dome or Hedgehog Cabin. Who knows, they may even tuck into a few slugs when they emerge from hibernation next spring.