Made In Britain

How to Feed Hedgehogs Without Attracting Rats | 10 Top Tips

How to Feed Hedgehogs Without Attracting Rats | 10 Top Tips

This is a tricky one.  Rats, like hedgehogs, are a part of our native British wildlife. They are comfortable around humans; they’ve been living near us for thousands of years. They are smart, fast and they eat just about anything. But there are some steps you can take, so here are our top tips on how to feed hedgehogs without attracting rats.

Making your garden hedgehog-friendly by providing hedgehogs with food certainly could attract rats. And many of the things you could do to deter rats will also make life more difficult for hedgehogs, or even harm them.

But putting out food for hedgehogs won’t automatically attract rats. It very much depends on what other food sources there are in your area. You could feed hedgehogs for years and never see a rat. And remember, rats are most problematic in winter when natural foods are scarce. You won’t be feeding hedgehogs in the winter because they are hibernating.

If you do think you have a rat problem and you want to keep feeding your hedgehogs and keep a hedgehog friendly garden we have some suggestions for you.

Read on for our top tips on how to feed hedgehogs without attracting rats.

Feeding Hedgehogs Without Attracting Rats

Is The Hedgehog Food Really the Problem?

Before you start to worry about whether your hedgehog food is attracting rats it’s worth looking at what other rodent-magnets you might have in your garden.

First of all, do you feed garden birds? Birdseed dropping on the ground can certainly attract rats. There are plenty of things you can do to stop this being a problem. Read our guide here.

Check your compost heap. Compost heaps a terrific eco-option for your garden. But they can be a mecca for rats. They offer both food and a nesting site. Never put cooked food on the compost.

If you think you have a rat problem stop putting raw food waste there as well. Turn your compost regularly to be sure there are no nests.  If your heap is close to a boundary, fence or hedge consider moving it to a more open site.

You could also consider swapping your heap for a sealed compost bin.

how to feed hedgehogs without attracting rats
Check your compost head: they can offer food and nesting sites for your local rats.

Store food securely.  If you are storing pet food, hedgehog and bird food, or human food in garages or sheds make sure it’s stored securely. Rats will gnaw through paper, card, plastic and wood to get dinner. So keep outside food stores in garages or sheds in secure glass or metal containers.

Secure your food waste bins. If you store kitchen waste bins outside make sure they are secure. We have seen rats, foxes and badgers tip over food waste bins to get a look at what’s inside. A brick on top should solve the problem.

Clean up. Don’t leave unused food lying around. Clean up the uneaten bird and hedgehog food each day. Clean up any food you spill when transferring food to feeders.

If you are eating in the garden clean the table when you finish, just like you would indoors. Sweep underneath if your table is on a hard surface. And always clean up a barbecue as soon as possible after use.

A barbecue covered in fat and bits of sausage and steak is a ratty banquet!

Safer Hedgehog Feeding

If you still have a rat problem there are some changes you can make to the way you feed your hedgehogs.

Feed-in the open. Rats like to keep under cover if possible, whilst hedgehogs are happy to eat in the open. So think about moving your feeding station to the middle of the lawn.

Feed as late as possible. The less time the hedgehog food is out there the less chance it has of attracting rats. So if your hedgehogs feed later in the night put the food out late.

Supervise dinner time. If your hedgehogs come to feed regularly in the early evening (and many do) think about putting out the food as they arrive and staying to watch them feed.

Hedgehogs won’t mind a quiet human but rats will be much less keen. Then clean up when the hogs are finished.

Try cat food. There are some reports that rats are less keen on cat food than a dog or hedgehog food. We’ve not tried this, but it could be worth a go.

Go Natural. Whilst rats love most of the supplementary food that we put out for hedgehogs they are not much interested in the things that make up a hedgehog’s natural diet.

Beetles, caterpillars, slugs and snails are all loved by hedgehogs and ignored by rats. So instead of putting out extra food, you could work on encouraging natural hedgehog food in your garden. Take a look at our guide here.

Deterring Rats Without Hurting Hedgehogs

If you’ve tried everything we have suggested and rats are still a problem you may need more drastic measures. But here you must be careful. Many traditional ways of deterring rats may also harm hedgehogs. So here are some Do’s and Don’t.

Don’t block up holes in and under fences. Although these might be letting rats in they are also essential “hedgehog highways”.

Do try some mint. Rats apparently hate the smell of mint, whilst hedgehogs seem to quite like it.  Peppermint essential oil sprinkled by their bolt holes, or plenty of mint planted in your garden, could work as a deterrent.

Don’t use rat poison. Rat poison could also poison hedgehogs, other wildlife and even your pets. Bad idea.

Do consider getting a cat. If the rat problem is long term a cat could be the answer. Rats will do their best to avoid cats. Even the smell of cat pee can keep them away. Some people even suggest borrowing used cat litter from a neighbour to sprinkle around your garden if you don’t have your own cat. 

Don’t block up holes under sheds or get rid of your log pile.  Both places make great nesting grounds for hedgehogs as well as rats.

Do try a humane rat trap. Traditional or “kill” traps are probably not an option for you if you are an animal lover.  But a humane trap could be worth a go. These do just trap the animal, so no harm is done if you happen to trap a hedgehog by mistake.

The downside is that once you have caught your rat you will have to load the trap into the car, with the rat in it, and take it somewhere a good couple of miles away to release. 

Conclusion: Don’t Let Rat Worries Stop You Feeding Hedgehogs.

Most people, even animal lovers, don’t like the idea of rats hanging around the house. 

Rats will certainly enjoy many of the foods you might offer to a hedgehog. But don’t let rat worries put you off helping out hedgehogs with extra food.

Many people feed hedgehogs for years without ever seeing a rat. And if rats do become a problem there are plenty of things you can do to deter the rats whilst still offering hedgehogs the extra support that may help them to survive.

We hope you have found this article useful.

For more on how to help hedgehogs please visit:

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

Hedgehog Street

And if you have a question or suggestion we would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below.

14 thoughts on “How to Feed Hedgehogs Without Attracting Rats | 10 Top Tips”

  1. That sounds a great idea, I’ve not heard that before but it sounds like it could be very effective. From where did you get the light?

    • Humane Rat Traps
      You say, to use them then take the rat away to release it.
      This is illegal in UK. Any vermin, once caught, cannot be released, but must be humanely destroyed.

  2. I have been leaving food inside a hedgehog house. Sometimes a bit is left behind which I assume a rat wouldn’t do? It is now January but has been quite mild so far. Will my hedgehog still be hibernating?

  3. Hello,we have a Hedgehog living in our garden in a comfy nest A ray has been eating the Bramble tinned food we put out nightly and the Hedgehog has had difficulty getting into the feeding station because Ray will not let her in and we saw on our trail camera this morning that Ray has been coming in and out of our Hogs nest so it must be nesting with her .What do we do?

  4. Hello,we have a Hedgehog living in our garden in a comfy nest A rat. has been eating the Bramble tinned food we put out nightly and the Hedgehog has had difficulty getting into the feeding station because Rat will not let her in and we saw on our trail camera this morning that Rat has been coming in and out of our Hogs nest so it must be nesting with her .What do we do?

  5. Wow! what a Great help this / was.
    As I have said I have a “Trail camera” bought for me from my son. This serves two purposes, (1) I can keep a “beady” eye on the feeding station, and allows me the chance to watch the ‘Hogs, and (2) makes / keeps me aware that I have or might have an unwanted “visitor (s) (IF my neighbour should happen on viewing “Roland” the rat, I can or I hope I can reassure him / her I have not as seen “caught” him / her on my camera.
    I may well use your suggestion and place the night’s feed out in the open, but under a safe feeding cover.

    I hope you will find this useful, and enjoyable the following morning when you visit your feeding station on film!
    Last year I had 3 ‘hogs visiting my garden, but alas so far this year I have only “Spied” one. Such a shame.
    Peter G

  6. Thank you for this info. A rat has appeared in the garden and the hedgehog food is going down very fast. We have 3 regular hedgehogs and don’t want to stop feeding them so we’ll try the rat trap.

  7. I have tried every single thing listed. Rat managed to get out or avoid traps, loves cat food. Really worried as we have young hogs.

  8. I read that hedgehogs don’t like to live in the same place as there good I put food in the 🦔 house to encourage it to carry on visiting but I want to put straw in the house Help !!

  9. Where do I get hedgehog 🦔 home or how do I build one I have 5 🦔 hedgehog 🦔 in the garden will a cat hurt them will a fox 🦊 hurt them im a wake all night to check on my 🦔 and sleep in the day

  10. Hi we love feeding our hedgehogs that come every year. However this year as been really nice as we have had more of them. Our back garden beyond the gate where they come in backs onto a beck and big field. We have always had rats but not as many as this year and they do seem to be looking at the hedgehog bowl of food, we have this under our seat near the gate for the hedgehogs and there is a big light above the bench and the rats have never offered to go in until tonight……what can we do to still feed our beautiful hedgehogs but not put them in danger of the rats? Do rats attach hedgehogs. ? Thank you

  11. Thank you for this useful information. I wish a leaflet could be issued to my neighbours about NOT putting rat poison down! It is cruel and destructive to other wildlife as you stated but unless it is banned people will still buy it. It is wonderful to have these lovely hedgehogs coming into our garden and we will continue to help them as much as possible

  12. I’m afraid that your advice on catching a live rat and releasing it into the wild several miles away is actually illegal. Please consider removing it from your site.


Leave a comment

Clare Stone

Leave a Reply