Hedgehogs have very few serious predators, largely due to the effectiveness of their spiny defences. However, badgers, foxes and certain household pets can pose threats.
Badgers can predate hedgehogs, as they are oe of the few animal capable of unrolling a curled hedgehog. Badgers and hedgehogs share the same primary food source: beetles and other invertebrates, meaning that in areas where both species are present, there is increased competition for food. However, available evidence does NOT suggest that badgers are a significant driver of hedgehog decline. Hedgehogs actively avoid badger-populated areas, and hedgehogs are declining in both rural areas and urban areas, where badgers are less common. Places with suitable habitat and plenty of available food can and do support stable populations of both hedgehogs and badgers.
Foxes are brilliant at predation, equal only to their laziness. It is unlikely that they would tackle an adult hedgehog; they weigh between 5 and 9 kilos and have very sensitive paws and mouths. They are ‘Nature’s bin-men’ and are opportunists who will eat dead and dying wildlife. In urban areas, discarded rubbish means that food for foxes is plentiful. It is uncommon for a fox to predate a live hedgehog, rather they are more likely to scavenge road casualties. If you are trying to attract hedgehogs to your garden, there is a risk that foxes and other wildlife will also visit. In urban areas, foxes will often get into chicken coops and kill all of the chickens. They will then spend the next fews days coming back to pick up their prey so they can store it.
Typically, pets and hedgehogs can coexist peacefully. Cats tend to ignore them and leave them alone after inspecting them and encountering their spikes. Dogs, however, occasionally attack hedgehogs, or can sometimes be too aggressive when trying to play with them. The spines of an adult hedgehog are usually enough protection to keep them safe from a dog attack, but a younger hedgehog may not survive.
Whilst most pets will happily share the garden with hedgehogs, certain dog breeds can be overly aggressive to hedgehogs, even if they are loyal and gentle with humans. If you are concerned about your dog’s interaction with hedgehogs, you could turn an outside light on before letting your pet out which will help to frighten any hedgehogs away. You could also put your dog on a lead on the last ‘patrol’ of the night to help keep hedgehogs safe.. Contact us for advice.
All species carry fleas but they are host specific.