The sound of a hedgehog snuffling round your garden has got to be one of nature’s most glorious delights but hedgehog numbers have dwindled in recent decades with habitat loss and human activity thought to be the biggest causes. There are now believed to be less than a million wild hedgehogs left in the UK, with gardens providing a vital stronghold.
Here are a few simple tips to help the spiky residents in your garden.
Before you start, get down on your hands and knees and think like a hedgehog! Take a good look around your garden from this new perspective. How easy is it to get between gardens? Are there any good hidey holes? What hazards are there at ground level?
Tip 1 – Make a hedgehog highway! Hedgehogs need access to lots of gardens to find enough food and to find a mate. They can travel up to 2 miles a night. Please provide a gap at least 5” square within or underneath wooden/wire fences to enable them to travel between neighbouring gardens.
Tip 2 – Provide a wild corner in your garden and don’t be too tidy – keep piles of leaves, logs and branches. These provide homes for insects (a hedgehog’s favourite food) and are also great hibernation sites.
Tip 3 – Check before you use a strimmer on areas of long grass or fork over a compost heap – they may be home to a hedgehog.
Tip 4 – Avoid using pesticides, slug pellets and herbicides. These can all make hedgehogs very poorly and even cause death. My garden flourishes beautifully without them.
Tip 5 – Provide an escape route from ponds. Hedgehogs can swim but they will soon get tired and drown if they cannot find an easy escape route.
Tip 6 – Keep netting at least a foot off the ground. Hedgehogs can get trapped in it.
Tip 7 – Avoid dismantling sheds during the summer nesting period. Hedgehogs often make their nests under sheds.
Tip 8 – Leave out food and water. If you feed them, they will come! Here’s some advice on what to feed them.
Tip 9 – Check for hedgehogs before you light a bonfire and ideally move the wood pile to a completely different spot on the day of the bonfire. Wood piles are ideal homes for hedgehogs.
Tip 10 – Cover drain holes and keep rubbish tidied away. Hedgehogs can get trapped in plastic and tins and may try to nest or hibernate in bags of garden rubbish left open.
Tip 11 – Plants, plants and more plants! Hedgehogs love foraging in the undergrowth for beetles and caterpillars. The more ground cover the better. Grow a wide range of native plants which will attract insects – read my blog about the top plants for your hedgehog haven
Tip 12 – provide a hedgehog des-res. Give your spiky visitors a helping hand by providing them with a good quality hedgehog home. Fill it with some hay to create the perfect starter home.
Good luck and let me know how you get on!
You can find out more about me and my work rescuing hedgehogs here.