“I want a garden hedgehog!” If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that, I would be a rich woman!
I look for suitable hedgehog release sites for hedgehogs that have spent time being rehabilitated in the hedgehog hospital. I want the best of the best for these hedgehogs and below are my minimum requirements that all new hedgehog release sites must meet. I ideally seek homes within 10 miles of York but other hedgehog rescues will have similar criteria.
Please note that normally a hedgehog will return to where it was found following its rehabilitation. This is not always possible though in every case, for example where the finder has not provided details of the location.
1.. You must already have hedgehogs regularly visiting your garden. This is the only way to know that the habitat is suitable and that the hedgehogs will find a mate. You can’t just release one or two hedgehogs and hope they will colonize an area. If hedgehogs aren’t in the area, sadly, there is a reason…..
2. You must be well away from busy main roads – hazardous to hedgehogs.
3. You and your neighbours must not use slug pellets, pesticides or herbicides – all of these can cause poisoning and death. You must also avoid use of garden netting, check carefully before strimming and forking (and ideally not strim your garden at all)
4. Your garden must be linked to at least 10 large gardens via hedgehog holes/hedges/open fencing. The ideal garden will offer plenty of ground cover for foraging and nest sites.
The perfect garden will offer wild areas for foraging and shelter
5. You must provide a suitable escape route from any ponds.
6. You must provide some form of shelter. This can be anything from a homemade house under a log pile, to a specially purchased hedgehog box. This will give your new resident a helping hand to set up home.
7. You must leave food and water out daily for at least the first month and ideally forever. For advice about what to feed wild hedgehogs, please read my blog
8. Not near badger sites. Badgers will predate hedgehogs where they live in close proximity.
If you didn’t get past the first essential requirement, many people find that if they leave food and water out regularly, they discover they do have hedgehog visitors! Here’s how to find out if you have a hedgehog visiting your garden.
I don’t tend to soft-release hedgehogs in an outdoor enclosure but I do make sure they are used to the outdoor temperatures by acclimatising them in an outdoor hutch or unheated building, such as a shed.
I release all year except in Winter when the night time temperatures are over 5 degrees at night for at least the next seven days. You can read further advice about releasing rehabilitated wild hedgehogs here.
My work rehabilitating hedgehogs is entirely self funded. I raise funds for medicines, food and equipment by making silver jewellery inspired by nature – great ethical gifts! You can also support my work in other ways here.