Sunday 4 November 2018

Hedgehogs don't like slugs!

Its very easy to plant ideas into peoples minds, but very difficult to remove them when they are wrong.

And the internet only makes matters worse due to the ease of content "copy & paste" operations on already incorrect information. 

There are probably hundreds of examples, but here are two popular ones;

  • Many people still associate the Druids with the construction of Stonehenge. This was a Victorian era theory which should be dead & buried by now.
  • When I was at primary school in the late 1950s, a teacher told the class that the reason a compass always pointed to magnetic north was because there was a large concentration of iron-ore just under the ground, somewhere near the north pole!

In the hedgehog world, two common misconceptions are that:-

  • you can feed garden hedgehogs on milk & bread
  • hedgehogs are good for gardeners because they eat slugs & snails

I guess most people with an interest in wildlife will already be up-to-speed on the bread & milk issue, but probably not with regards to slugs & snails.

Ever since we first started to use nature cameras in our garden over 10 years ago, we noticed that hedgehogs avoided eating slugs. And since the return of the hogs this year, we have taken an interest in whether the slugs that visit our hog feeder ever end up on the menu!

Our trail cam is used to monitor any hog feeder activity. Here are just 2 shots from a sequence which show our young hog's visit a few nights ago.

hog hedgehog food slug lungworm worm
the Go-Cat is at the back of the drum (extreme right)
Our hog enters the feeder, feeds for about 15 minutes, then comes out and has a long drink.

hog hedgehog food slug lungworm worm
god that Go-Cat makes you thirsty!

As usual, the hog consumed the Go-Cat biscuits by carefully eating around a large slug which was also looking for an easy meal.

Further investigation on the net revealed that hedgehogs avoid eating slugs & snails if possible, but if other food is very scarce (i.e. they are starving) they are sometimes forced to consume these slimy gastropods. But it also appears that these creatures carry a nasty parasite.

According to the website slugs & snails carry lungworm which are one of the biggest natural killers of hedgehogs. If consumed, these lungworms multiply quickly inside the hogs lungs, and it dies a dreadful death.

But for me, one of the most incredible issues is that we seem to have known about slugs & lungworm for over 10 years, but no one seems to have told anyone on the RSPCA website, who still peddle the view that having plenty of slugs & snails in your garden is great for the hedgehog!


  1. I also avoid eating slugs unless I'm really hungry

    1. I prefer snails... as long as they are cooked!