Spring has well and truly sprung, and the time has come for hedgehogs to come out of hibernation. But if you see one hanging around in your garden, DON’T give them a bowl of milk to drink.
Humans have a habit of leaving food out for animals – especially cute, tiny ones. Obviously if that animal is your pet, then you need to feed it, and hopefully you have a pretty good idea of what’s safe for them to eat.
But when it comes to wild animals, make sure you do some research before taking it upon yourself to provide them with a meal.
People still have a habit of feeding bread to ducks even though it can make them malnourished and sick – presumably the opposite of what most people intend to happen.
Similarly, we have the saying that someone who looks smug is like ‘the cat that got the cream’. In reality, a cat who’d been given some cream could end up with diarrhoea, as adult felines are essentially lactose intolerant. I don’t think they’d be looking very smug then.
So now that the hedgehogs have woken from their slumber and are starting to venture out and about, it’s time to clarify what they can and cannot eat.
According to Hedgehog Street, out in the wild, the spikey animals feast on bugs like worms, beetles, slugs, caterpillars, earwigs and millipedes. However, on the off chance you’re not so keen on keeping a supply of invertebrates handy, there are alternatives which you’re more likely to have lying around.
The Facebook page Petmaster New Ross shared a post to raise awareness about how hedgehogs shouldn’t be given milk, because, similar to adult cats, hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, and feeding them milk could make them ill and give them diarrhoea.
Instead, the little creatures can be given water and, surprisingly, cat food. Basically, you should treat a hedgehog the same way you’d treat your cat.
The post explained:
The hedgehogs are awake pls be wary with lawnmowers and cars
…they are thirsty and hungry … remember no milk (they are lactose intolerant) they like water in flat bowls and cat food.
The cat food can make a good meaty alternative to the bugs which make up much of hedgehogs’ diets, meaning you can supply your little visitor with a tasty treat without having to go digging around in the garden for creepy crawlies.
Though, be aware that leaving out food could attract a range of animals, so don’t be too surprised if a greedy cat or sneaky fox steals the offering.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.