I feed a bunch of TNR cats who has their own feeding station. I sometimes put up a trailcam at night to see who comes and goes. Last summer we got company by a few hedgehogs. They eventually had hoglets too! Read more abou cats and hedhogs sharing a feeding station here.
Helping the hogs
The summer of 2018 was incredibly dry! This was a problem for all living things since not only was there a lack of drinking water, but it also meant less food. For the hogs it meant there werent as many bugs around for them to eat. A quick Google search will tell you, that if you have hedgehogs in your garden and want to feed them, you can use cat food (the dry stuff). So it's not so odd that the little piggies found there way to the kitty buffet. It had both food and water.
Sharing is caring
So how did the cats get along with the hedgehogs? Well, they got along okay really. The cats were a little careful around those pointy piggies and would often politely wait for them to finish eating. On one occation I caught one of the big kittens on camera eating right next to a hedgehog. Too cute!
Even if I didn't see the hedgehogs or caught them on camera, I always knew if they had been there or not. They are very messy eaters and would leave a lot of crumbs in the bowls. I didn't want the cats to eat through that, so I would get rid of it every morning. Unfortunatly the hedgehogs also tend to poop right where they eat, so suddenly I had to clean the feeding station quite often. I was used to my very clean cats, so this was definitly new.
There was some more challenges having the hedgehogs around. I had a lot of new cats to TNR (Trap Neuter Return) that summer, which meant I often had cat traps out. In order to lure the cats in I placed some food at the bottom. This was too much for the hedgehogs to resist and I accidently caught a hedgehogs instead of a cat more than once. Don't worry though, they were never in there more than 15 minutes and they spend the time eating all the food. So they didn't seem to be in any distress. I don't know if they ever realised they were trapped.
In my Google search about feeding hedgehogs I found a tip saying not to put the food out in a bowl or pile. You should rather scatter the dry kibble, so the hedgehog has to search for it. That way they don't get lazy and forget how to search for food. In their search for the food they are also likely to encounter their natural sorce of food which is healthier for them after all.
After learning this I started to scatter cat food around the feeding station, but some of the cats actually enjoyed eating this way. So sometimes they would have eaten it all or most of it before the hedgehogs arrived. So I couldn't be sure the little hedgehogs would get anything to eat this way and did not dare removing the bowls from their reach entirely. I tried setting out plates for them, but of course the cats found those too.
While the dry kibble is a good replacement food for hedgehogs, the wet cat food is not good for their tummies. Because of the heat last summer I served a lot of wet food to the cats in order to get more fluids in them. So it was also a challange to keep that away from the hogs.
When the hedgehogs showed up, my feeding station was still very new. I had only recently learned that more cats were hanging around this area and the dry summer allowed me to put out food and water unprotected. So I only had a big box to cover some of the food and I would just use the environment alraedy there. It worked fine at the time.
But since I had to keep some of the food away from the hedgehogs I needed levels. I had already planned to get some cat houses for when the weather would change, so I went out and got two.
I call the blue one "The Clubhouse" and the 3 roomed one "The Hotel". This also made it easier to devide the food out, so more cats could eat at the same time. Now the hedgehogs did not have acces to the whole buffet and was better for their tiny tummies.
In the begining I only knew of one hedgehog. Then one evening I ran into two of them. One was clearly bigger than the other, so I figured it was a male and female. The bigger one was definitly more brave and didn't mind my pressence so much as the smaller one. Later I caught tiny piglets on the trailcam! I only ever saw one at a time, so not sure how many babies they had exactly. Since the hedgehog is an endangeread species in Denmark, this was a good thing. The little piglet soon learned where the feeding station was and how to crawl up into the food dispenser. For the baby it was like a huge tub filled with food. Here it could eat and poop at the same time. What more could you ask for?
Time to go
As the summer came to an end I got a house for the hedgehogs. They need a safe place to hibernate in, so I set it up near the feeding station where no one would find it. I hid it under some branches, like I've read you should. I never checked if they used it, cause I didn't want to disturb them if they did. So I don't know if they used it or found someplace better to stay warm. But it's still out there offering shelter.
Sadly I found a dead hedgehog in October - or what was left of it. It had wanted to cross the road, but didn't make it far. I think the fox or maybe some birds got a snack out of it afterwards, cause all that was left was the spiny part. It made me really sad that one of them didn't make it into hibernation. My guess is that it was the female that died, cause the male may have been in hibernation already. I didn't see any hedgehogs after this incidence. Hopefully the new piglet made it through winter.
A hedgehog return!
This summer the hedgehog showed up a month later compared to last year. But we've had more rain, so the it probably didn't need the aid of a feeding station as much. Meanwhile I had prepared for them to show up and got a special bowl for them. I also got some decorative hedgehogs, so that they can feel welcome at the feeding station. I want to try and buy some "real" food for them too this year. I hope our hedgehog will find a new lady friend and make lots of babies this summer!