Although a rarity in the garden due to their falling population, hedgehogs are one of the most-loved animals to see scurrying around. But as more and more people use slug pellets, their numbers are dwindling. So, do slug pellets harm hedgehogs and how?
Yes, slug pellets do harm to hedgehogs. In fact, slug pellets can kill hedgehogs along with other wildlife.
Unfortunately, many gardeners use slug pellets to kill slugs, not considering their impact on other animals.
Hedgehogs are known to die from slug pellet poisoning. Slug pellets contain the chemical metaldehyde, which kills slugs by dehydrating them.
However, in other animals, the chemical attacks their nervous system.
Can Slugs Pellets Kill Hedgehogs?
Slug pellets are used widely by gardeners as they effectively kill slugs. They’re frustratingly effective at getting rid of slugs. However, the drawback to using slug pellets is the harm they cause to animals such as hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs are great for controlling garden pests, naturally. By using slug pellets, gardeners are not only affecting the health of hedgehogs but ridding destroying a natural benefit they bring to the garden as pest control.
Hedgehogs search for food throughout the night, and while doing so, they can encounter slug pellets you have placed in your garden. Hedgehogs are small animals so only a few are required to poison the hedgehog.
But, Can Slug Pellets Actually Kill Them?
Unfortunately, slug pellets put hedgehogs in grave danger. Even if hedgehogs do not eat slug pellets directly, they still eat slugs. If you have used slug pellets, chances are that most of the slugs in your garden have been poisoned.
Any animal, including hedgehogs, that eat the slugs, will suffer from poisoning which will, ultimately, lead to their deaths.
In some cases, hedgehogs poisoned by slug pellets will not die but it will have a dramatic impact on their ability to reproduce, further impacting the declining population of hedgehogs.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Poisoned Slugs?
No, hedgehogs cannot safely eat a poisoned slug. The problem with slug pellets is that they firstly don’t kill slugs instantly and secondly will remain in the body of a dead slug.
Hedgehogs will come across either an alive poisoned slug or the body of a dead poisoned slug, only know it as prey and will eat it up without knowing they are about to self inflict poison on themselves.
What are Hedgehog-Friendly Slug Repellets?
Fortunately, although slug pellets are the go-to solution, there are actually a number of things you can do in the garden to deter slugs without harming hedgehogs and other wildlife:
Firstly, slugs hate certain smells, especially pungent ones. Therefore, you can use such smells in your garden one way or the other to keep slugs away.
For example, slugs hate the smell of coffee. You can sprinkle coffee grounds in your garden in the soil or at the base of your plants. The coffee will not only keep slugs away but also provide nutrition to your soil.
There are also some plants that slugs cannot stand. Slugs hate the smell of herbs like lavender and rosemary. You can grow these plants and place them at the entrance of your garden to keep the slugs out.
Another great way to deter slugs is to use garlic. Garlic belongs to the allium family and has a strong smell that slugs do not enjoy. You can take fresh garlic and crush it, releasing oils and juices. You can put this garlic in plant pots or the soil.
You can also create your garlic spray by boiling some garlic in water (further details here). The garlic spray is safe to use on plants.
Another way you can prevent damage to certain plants is to create barriers with copper tape. Copper is reported to give slugs a jolt when it reacts with their slime. This way, the slugs know to stay away from the plants. You can apply copper tape to potted plants.
There are also organic slug pellets available besides chemical ones. You can get woollen slug pellets which are made from sheep’s wool. These pellets are safe to use around animals and pets and will not harm any hedgehogs.
Gardeners often have to face slug infestations. Sometimes the best way out of such an infestation is to use slug pellets but it’s not the safest. Slug pellets are incredibly harmful to hedgehogs as they contain metaldehyde.
When consumed by hedgehogs, this poison damages the nervous system. Hedgehogs either consume slug pellets directly or eat slugs that have been poisoned.
There are several ways you can deal with slugs without causing harm to hedgehogs. For instance, you can use rough terrain like broken eggshells. Moreover, using smells in your garden that slugs hate, like lavender, rosemary, coffee grounds, and garlic, will keep them away.
Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden