Are hedgehogs pests?

There are many types of pests you may have to deal with at your home or commercial property. Many people think of rats, spiders, and insects as pests. However, hedgehogs in NZ can also be pests for your property. In this article, we’ll cover why some people think hedgehogs in NZ are pests and some tips to manage them.

Hedgehogs aren’t native to NZ

As an invasive species, hedgehogs aren’t indigenous to New Zealand. Originally from the United Kingdom, the European Hedgehog thrives in the New Zealand environment. Now, hedgehogs in NZ are more common than in their original home in the UK. There are estimated to be several million hedgehogs in New Zealand now but the exact numbers are unknown. The population continues to grow and they are a threat to some of the native species.

Are hedgehogs in NZ pests?

There’s some debate in the New Zealand community about whether or not hedgehogs count as pests. Experts cite their ecological and environmental impacts as a reason for being a pest. The main argument for hedgehogs being pests is that they are predators and some of their prey are native NZ species.

On the North Island, hedgehogs are a threat to the endangered northern Dotterel. They also eat young chicks and eggs of ground-nesting birds like the wrybill as well as native NZ lizards. This can include eggs from henhouses too, making them a threat to some farmers.

Hedgehogs tend to make their way into gardens too. Some people find them beneficial because one of their primary foods is insects. Since they eat insects that eat garden vegetables, gardeners sometimes see them as something positive. However, those include native NZ insects like rare beetles. They also eat grasshoppers and weta.

Depending on your point of view, hedgehogs in NZ can be helpful to have around or a menace that should be stopped.

Ideal hedgehog environments

Like most creatures, NZ hedgehogs will stay around areas that have what they need for survival. They look for places with a steady supply of food that is also warm. This warmth is very important; in Winter, they hibernate until warmer weather of Spring returns. If your property has conditions like this, you can either change the conditions or move the hedgehogs elsewhere if you can catch them.

Unlike rats, they tend to stay outside and are often found in garden areas. Insects are one of their main sources of food, but they also eat pet foods like cat food. Try to keep pet foods out of reach if you notice them disappearing faster than expected.

Removing hedgehogs

Many kinds of traps that work on rats also work for hedgehogs. However, many people prefer to relocate rather than kill hedgehogs because they can be helpful for gardens and not everyone considers them pests.

If you want to remove them but not kill them, catch and release traps are good options. We cover a lot of these kinds of traps in our article Non-lethal pest control options for rodents.

There are some companies in New Zealand dedicated to making non-lethal traps for catch and release. One of the popular brands is the Havahart traps. These traps and repellents are aimed at removing rodents and other pests like hedgehogs without killing them.

Hedgehog Baits – What do hedgehogs eat?

A trap placed in a good spot may be able to catch hedgehogs without any bait. However, if that doesn’t work, there are some common non-lethal baits you can try to entice them.

  • Cat food. Since hedgehogs take to cat food, you can use that in your traps. Fishy cat foods tend to work best. But make sure to check that you don’t catch the neighbourhood cats by mistake!
  • Eggs. One of the favourite foods for hedgehogs in NZ is eggs. Put one or two eggs in the trap to lure them in. The eggs can be broken or left whole. If you put two eggs in at once, try poking a hole in one of them and leaving the other whole, as that often has the best results.
  • Fresh Chicken. Fresh chicken can be particularly attractive for hedgehogs, but also costs tend to cost more than other methods. These are great short term but the meat can’t be out too long or it will go bad and won’t work well.

Need help with hedgehogs or pests at your property?

If you’d like more information about removing hedgehogs or other pests, get in touch with our team. We can help by placing traps in ideal locations and help you remove hedgehogs and rodents as well as spiders, ants, and insects.