Updated: Sep 19, 2019
Slug pellets are the biggest concern for hedgehogs health and should really be avoided as a way to stop slugs and snails in your gardens. Because the pellets are normally thrown on the ground anything can eat them (even you, if you dont wash your veg well!) not just slugs and snails.
Slug pellets and hedgehogs:
Hedgehogs have been found to have had very high levels of metaldehyde (the poison used in slug pellets) in their system which can kill them. Even small amounts can cause issues to hedgehogs. It would be better to try and come up with a way to stop the slugs and snails from getting to your crop in the first place.
The use of slug pellets in gardens will be stopped in the UK though Government Laws published in December 2018. The ban on the outdoor use of metaldehyde was introduced to protect wildlife.
The poisons in slug pellets:
Metaldehyde is the active ingredient in most commercial slug pellets and hedgehogs will both directly eat the pellets, or indirectly though eating the slugs and snails that have eaten them. Metaldehyde can be deadly to humans and animals, and it pollutes groundwater. Metaldehyde is a contact poison and after slugs or snails have eaten or touched metaldehyde pellets, their bodies produce excessive amounts of slime and they slowly dehydrate as they try to flush the toxin out of their system. They die from internal water loss.
Alternatives to poisons:
- Plant covers
- Garden clothes
- Slug collars
- Copper-tape or copper-wire
- Planting garlic
- Scatter orange and grapefruits to attract them away and them remove them
- Scatter egg shells around
- Seaweed, with it's high salt content
Nature doing its work:
Various birds and mammals will eat slugs and snails. The best one being hedgehogs! Make your garden hedgehog friendly and let them do the work of removing the slugs and snails!
Along with hedgehogs song birds, toads, frogs, ground beetles, carrion beetles, centipedes, lizards, and moles all love slugs, snails, and other insects you don't want on your crop.