Hedgehogs and milk

Can someone tell me why hedgehogs would drink milk ???

What is it about milk… that will tempt a hedgehog to wander to where it knows milk will be… to drink it… day after day… as part of an evening routine… ???

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Delicious? Fat and protein and free…


In Devon for 4 years… we had a family of hedgehogs which lived at the bottom of the garden.

Every evening Mum would put a tray of milk out… and we kids would lean from the upper bedroom window… we could hear the snuffling noise as the hedgehogs came out of the woodland and up the garden path, for their nightly treat.

In springtime, we would see the younger ones following, struggling to keep up with mum and dad…

Nowadays, I read that milk is deadly for hedgehogs… and I wonder if something has changed in the way milk is processed perhaps… because it certainly did not do any harm to our blossoming family of snufflers…

In Sweden & Finland they say not to give milk to hedgehogs: cream is OK.

Not sure why this is, something with digestion. ( Mostly Nordic people can still digest milk as adults , as do a cow-herding tribe south of Sahara. South European are said to have it tough digesting milk :cocktail: )

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I do not put out milk myself, as I would not want to harm any wildlife… but it certainly did no harm all those years ago…perhaps, in those days, hedgehogs in Devon were a hardy breed… Actually, the milk would have been full-cream…absolutely delicious… perhaps that is the difference… compared with today’s trend of low-fat stuff…

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I do think things have changed regarding milk…even many people are now considered to be lactose intolerant…for our raw fed pets then it’s not considered necessary to give milk after weaning…that the mother can provide everything necessary through her own milk supply…(if there’s a problem with that…such as the mothers milk supply possibly due to inadequate diet drying up before 3 weeks then a goats milk supplement along with an introduction to raw food is considered a better alternative to cows milk…???)

I remember digging up earthworms when my dad was gardening when we were little to put in a bowl for our hedgehog visitors…I don’t remember ever putting milk out for them though…???

I think if a hedgehog is seen in daylight hours then there is quite possibly something wrong…???

I remember finding a hedgehog in the undergrowth surrounding our infant school playground…we were all told to stay away because of fleas…I checked it for days…and eventually found it dead…

According to the RSPCA the reason for not giving milk to hedgehogs is quite simple, it gives them diarrhoea.
The connection between hedgehogs and milk comes from stories about hedgehogs being seen getting milk from cows in the fields. That didn’t happen it was only a myth.

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I have various hedgehogs ploitering about in my garden, they are usually visible from late afternoon onwards once the weather is a bit warmer. They love spuddling about in the dead leaves and the woodpile, my lavender hedge seems to be a great maternity suite for them. They love cat food.

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The only time I see them here is well after dusk and when my Collies insist on picking them up and bringing them into the lounge…x :smiley:

I just wrap them in a towel and take them back out again and place them beyond our boundary…

It doesn’t seem to deter the hedgehogs being in the garden the next night though…so at a certain time of year I do find myself regularly wrapping hedgehogs of varying sizes in a towel and trying to put them somewhere safe…x :slight_smile:

On the subject of dairy, can I ask about cats? I often leave a bowl of milk for the feral cats around here but a friend said it’s dangerous. I have a cat with a fractured jaw who can’t eat properly (Wonky Cat!) and so have to leave plates of mushed up tinned food … and often put out leftover thick fromage frais and sometimes a pat of butter in order to give him some fats and proteins that he wouldn’t otherwise find as he is painfully thin. Friend says this is dangerous. (on the other hand if he dies of cholesterol problems maybe that’s better than starving to death …). But is there a reason that cats shouldn’t have milk? Sorry to hijack the hedgehog thread but it’s linked …

No problem… this is all animal related and we want to do what’s best for our little friends…

Again, from my childhood… we had cats… and a saucer of milk was poured for them every morning. Timmy died at about 8 yrs… but Kitty died at 16… run-over outside our house… traumatic experience for all of us… finding her like that…

Whatever… milk did neither of them any harm… but it was a somewhat limited amount, albeit every day.

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thanks Stella, I guess everything in moderation really …

Some cats react very badly to milk products, others don’t, rather like people.
The advice is not to give cats dairy products presumably because you can’t be sure and you don’t want the cat to be unwell/ to clear up diarrhoea in your house so if in doubt etc etc
Personally I have never had a cat who had problems caused by milk etc so they get/swipe milk products as and when, just as they help themselves all sorts of things they aren’t supposed even to like (freshly made choux pastry, the crust of a cooling cake, that sort of thing).


Or even a piece of chocolate, or an apero biscuit with fig and nut cheese both stolen from the stool at the side of the canape ! :smirk_cat:


our cat was getting very thin after she had an operation & had to have a change of cat food. Our Vet said, to give her minced beef with 15% fat as an aside to crockets or tin food, it works a treat.


From an article published in http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/science/2009-08-30-lactose-intolerance_N.htm. Matches what I have read & learned elsewhere.
… It’s not normal. Somewhat less than 40% of people in the world retain the ability to digest lactose after childhood. The numbers are often given as close to 0% of Native Americans, 5% of Asians, 25% of African and Caribbean peoples, 50% of Mediterranean peoples and 90% of northern Europeans. Sweden has one of the world’s highest percentages of lactase tolerant people.

I wonder if “lactose intolerance” is somehow linked to what we eat/drink nowadays and all the little additives etc in the food chain… that might have worked adversely on the digestion over the years…

There was a time in UK, when folk were encouraged to “drink a pinta milka day” … and a mug of ovaltine/horlicks/cocoa…made with hot milk… was normal at bedtime… for adults as well as children… :hugs:

It is something that happens naturally: when younare weaned onto adult food and off milk (so by about 5 in traditional societies) you don’t ever get milk any more and lose the ability to process it. Where I come from on the SE coast of France milk is not part of the traditional diet, nor is it necessary.

In N. Europe where culturally people are great milk drinkers and eaters and need more vitamin D the ability to digest it is essential, but it is fostered by uninterrupted everyday consumption, and in N.Europe (but really any agrarian settled society) historically someone who didn’t thrive on a milk laden diet probably wouldn’t pass his or her genes on because s/he would be sickly and probably die.

And then there are people like the Masai who are big milk consumers but never stop drinking it, I mean they go from mother to cow straight away. Is there a link with height we can wonder? Look at Dutch people all milk chuggers and the tallest Europeans.

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yes, that does make a sort of sense… :thinking:

When milk was introduced to school children in Japan average length increased