If you have a so-called ‘hedgehog food’ that contains mealworms, sunflower hearts or peanuts, no matter what the seller tells you IT IS HARMFUL TO HEDGEHOGS! Throw it out now!
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) in hedgehogs is a crippling, agonising condition that eventually kills. It is caused by eating foods that are too high in phosphorus and too low in calcium. The worst foods are mealworms, sunflower hearts, peanuts and oats.
Eating these foods forces the hedgehogs body to make up for the lack of calcium in it’s bloodstream by taking it from the bones. The bones will become weak and painful, and prone to breaks. For a while, the hedgehog will walk in agony on broken legs, trying to find food and water. Eventually the hedgehog will die of starvation.
Hedgehogs would never find these foods naturally, they are supplied by humans, either directly or by leaving them on the ground under bird feeders.
Please ensure that hedgehogs visiting your garden never have access to these harmful foods. You won’t be able to see the damage you are causing until it is too late.
People say “but the hedgehogs like mealworms” – yes, they do. If you offer a child a bar of chocolate or an apple, chances are that most of them will go for the bar of chocolate – they like it but it’s not good for them.
The best way to ensure your visiting hedgehogs get a well balanced food supply is to leave out cat biscuits or cat meat (dog meat is also suitable). These foods have the correct phosphorus to calcium ratio to ensure that hedgehogs have strong bones. Also leave out a shallow dish of water for them.