Home // Discover wildlife // Publications // Hedgehog Papers // Wroot (1984) hedgehog foraging in Europe

Wroot (1984) hedgehog foraging in Europe

Title: Foraging in the European Hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, Abstract for PhD study, University of London, 1984.

Authors:  A. J. Wroot

Country: UK

Background to study

A study into the feeding preferences of hedgehogs and how this is influenced by prey availability to ascertain whether hedgehogs are opportunistic or selective feeders. 


  • The availability of prey on a golf course was determined using pitfall traps and formalin extraction of earthworms, during the summers of 1981 and 1982.
  • Hedgehog diets were investigated using faecal analyses and by determining the number of individuals of each species identified.
  • Comparisons between species and between diet and prey availability was carried out by converting numbers of individuals of each species directly into calories.

Key results

  • Carabid beetles were the most dominant species on the golf course, accounting for 50-85% of the total energy, but comprised of 10-14% of the diet of hedgehogs, apart from July 1982 when 60% of species observed in hedgehog faeces were carabid beetles.
  • Earthworms were eaten in direct proportion to their availability and was a direct function of the amount of rainfall with increasing proportions of earthworms being observed in hedgehogs diet with increasing rainfall.
  • Other major dietry items included slugs, moth caterpillars and tipulid larvae (leatherjackets).
  • Hedgehogs did not appear opportunistic in their feeding habits, they selected soft-bodied prey over carabid beetles, but when unavailable selected for carabid beetles.
  • On average, earthworms and other soft bodied prey contained 9 times more energy than carabid beetles.

Key messages to landowners and managers derived from these results

  • Habitat management to encourage soft bodied hedgehog prey, including caterpillars, slugs and earthworms is recommended to provide calorific food items for hedgehogs that will minimise ranging and energy expenditure.
  • Reducing or avoiding the use of pesticides on amenity grassland and in gardens is recommended to increase prey availability for hedgehogs.


Let's keep in touch...

We'd love to tell you about our conservation work through our regular newsletter Wildlife World, and also how you can save endangered species through volunteering, taking action or donating. You must be 18 or over. The information that you provide will be held by People’s Trust for Endangered Species. For information on how PTES processes personal data, please see our privacy policy.

People's Trust For Endangered Species

People's Trust for Endangered Species, 3 Cloisters House, 8 Battersea Park Road, London SW8 4BG

Registered Charity Number: 274206 • Site Design: Mike Leach Creative at Waters • Branding: Be Colourful

Copyright PTES 2022

- Enter Your Location -
- or -