Hedgehogs eat fruit, vegetables, and insects. Unfortunately, rats enjoy many of the same foods as hedgehogs, making it difficult for owners to feed hedgehogs without feeding rodents.
So, you need to remove the ways rats can access hedgehog food by limiting the smell and accessibility.
After feeding a hedgehog, clean up any spills and leftovers. Place food in a dish out in the open where rats feel uncomfortable, and supervise the feeding time because rats fear the presence of humans.
Also, store hedgehog food supplies in airtight glass containers to keep rats out.
The presence of hedgehogs won’t deter rats as they don’t find them intimidating. Likewise, hedgehogs will ignore rats, and only in rare cases have hedgehogs been known to kill rats.
Does Feeding Hedgehogs Attract Rats?
When you feed hedgehogs, you may attract rats.
According to the New Zealand Ecological Society, hedgehogs enjoy eating vegetables and fruit. Rats also like these foods, so any leftovers will invite rats, mice, and other rodent pests.
If you leave hedgehog food out in the open instead of putting it in a feeding station, it’ll be just a matter of time before rats arrive. However, if you seal the food, feed your hedgehogs in an enclosure, and clean up after feeding them, this can keep rats away.
Rats have an amazing sense of smell, and they can pick out food sources from far away. The odor of animal feed is attractive to wild rats, so free-feeding hedgehogs should be avoided.
Can You Feed Hedgehogs Without Attracting Rats?
Feeding hedgehogs doesn’t mean that you’ll get rats.
You can prevent rats from showing up by changing how you feed hedgehogs, which starts by maintaining a clean enclosure free from food debris.
Take the following precautions:
- Clean up any spills and leftovers after feeding hedgehogs
- Establish a feeding station to keep the meals better contained
- Wash your hedgehog if it gets messy while feeding
- Don’t leave any pieces of fresh food in a dish overnight
- Never allow food to go bad or rot
If you want to be extra safe, supervise the feeding sessions. Unlike hedgehogs, rats are uncomfortable around humans. However, by staying behind to watch the hedgehog feed, rats won’t approach.
Do Hedgehogs Keep Rats Away?
Even though rats and hedgehogs don’t get along, this won’t deter rodents.
Rats are attracted to the food and will be unperturbed by the presence of hedgehogs. At best, they’ll hiss at and intimidate each other before giving each other a wide berth.
Note that sprinkling peppermint essential oil around specific spots in the compound can sometimes keep rats away. Hedgehogs love the smell of peppermint, while rats hate peppermint.
Do Hedgehogs Eat Rats?
As omnivores, hedgehogs can technically eat small rats or mice. Also, they could eat dead rats if they don’t have any other sources of readily available food.
However, rats aren’t part of a hedgehog’s natural diet, and most rats are too big for the average domestic hedgehog to eat. So, it’s very rare for a hedgehog to pursue a rat, let alone kill and eat it.
Due to their relaxed temperament, hedgehogs aren’t aggressive fighters. When faced with an animal similar in size or slightly smaller, the hedgehog is more likely to ignore it.
Are Rats A Danger To Hedgehogs?
Rats carry infectious diseases and parasites that could be harmful or deadly to hedgehogs. Although rare, aggressive or defensive rats can bite the legs off of baby hedgehogs.
According to the Journal Of Zoology, hedgehogs curl into a small and prickly ball (quilling) when attacked by predators. A rat will not persistently attack a hedgehog, so damage is unlikely.
How To Feed Hedgehogs But Not Rats
Attracting rats to a hedgehog’s enclosure is dangerous as rats can frighten or injure hedgehogs. So, how can you feed hedgehogs but not rats?
Feed in The Open
Wild rats are private animals, preferring to stay out of sight, only coming out when it’s safe.
Feeding hedgehogs out in the open may deter rats from coming out. Place the feeding station in the middle of your backyard, and rats will often pass up the chance for food to avoid danger.
Supervise Feeding Time
Since wild rats are uncomfortable around humans, they’d rather avoid contact entirely. Your presence during mealtimes will deter rats, allowing hedgehogs to eat in peace.
Clean Up Regularly
The less time that food remains out in clear view, the lower the chance of it attracting rats.
So, clean up any spills and remove leftovers after a feeding session. Designate one feeding station for your hedgehog(s) to maintain good hygiene.
Store Hedgehog Food Appropriately
Where you store hedgehog food is equally important. Rats have sharp teeth and can easily gnaw through paper and plastic food bags.
They can even chew through compromised cans of food, so ensure that your food stores are well-secured. Ideally, use airtight glass or undamaged metal containers to keep out rats.
Secure Your Waste Bins
To stop rats from eating hedgehog food, prevent them from entering the enclosure.
You can achieve this by eliminating other rodent attractants. For example, secure and rat-proof food waste bins and trash cans by placing a couple of bricks or something heavy on the lid.
Will Hedgehogs Eat Rat Poison?
A hedgehog doesn’t know the difference between food and rat poison, so it’ll consume the poison and likely die due to its toxicity. Rat poison contains chemicals that stop the blood from clotting, leading to internal bleeding and death.
Since hedgehogs sometimes eat dead rodents, they can get second-hand poisoning. For this reason, it’s not a good idea to use rat poison when you keep hedgehogs or if hedgehogs visit your garden.
What Kills Rats But Not Hedgehogs?
If you want to apply pest control methods safely, here’s how:
Drop smoke bombs into rats’ nesting holes and burrows.
The smoke bombs will release a gas that will kill the rats instantly. The main advantage is that it’s a targeted approach not aimed at other animals.
Here are some alternative ways to get rid of rat burrows.
Setting up traps under crates or controlled boxes can kill rats without hurting hedgehogs.
The box should be designed so that only the rats can enter and access the bait, which may be difficult with particularly small hedgehogs or rats.
By following the strategies discussed, you can keep rats away from hedgehogs’ food.