Hedgehog friendly ponds – provide a pond escape route

Hedgehog friendly pond
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Ponds are fantastic for wildlife. They will attract lots of insects to your garden and can provide a safe drinking spot for hedgehogs and other animals. The birds love to bathe in mind.

Hedgehogs are actually great swimmers. Just take a look at this hedgehog who is having hydrotherapy. But, like humans, they can’t swim forever. If a hedgehog ventures into a pond with no escape route, it will soon tire and drown.

The best ponds for hedgehogs have shallow sloping sides (like a beach) with plenty of escape routes all the way round. The pond will also be fairly shallow. One escape route is not enough – an exhausted hedgehog will not know that if only it keeps swimming around, it will eventually find an escape route. You need to provide escape routes all around the edges.

You can do this by creating sloped edges when you create your pond or putting rocks/large stones into the water and also plenty of pots with pond plants, submerged just under the water. You can also create a ladder to help hedgehogs escape. I have several submerged logs as well – which are also great for dragonfly larvae.

Keep your pond levels topped up all year – this helps prevent a hedgehog falling in.

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Hedgehog friendly pond. Credit: Frog Life

To help prevent hedgehogs venturing into unsafe ponds, please also provide plenty of shallow bowls of water around the garden. These provide a safe place for hedgehogs to drink. They need to drink a surprising amount, especially in hot weather.

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Hedgehog drinking from a mosaic hedgehog bowl

I have lots of other advice for creating wildlife friendly gardens here and here also a blog about the best plants to grow in your hedgehog haven.

I run a hedgehog rescue in York, England. You can read more about my work here and also how to support it here.

I also make handmade silver nature jewellery to raise funds for my hedgehog hospital and you can visit my online shop here.

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Hedgehog hydrotherapy – hedgehogs can swim well but they can’t swim forever

Hedgehog hydrotherapy
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Here is Honey – a wild European hedgehog in my rescue centre – having hydrotherapy.

When Honey arrived with me two weeks ago she would not eat and could hardly walk. She was pulling herself along with her front legs with her nose touching the ground.

The x-rays show nothing obviously wrong but it looks as if the muscles in her front legs could be weak. She walks with an odd gait with her front legs. She is receiving hydrotherapy to help build up the muscle strength.

She swims in a bath of warm water. She can just touch the bottom of the bath, which helps to stop her getting too stressed. She is only in the bath for a brief period as she is weak and can quickly tire with the exercise. She has already improved with her walking after only 5 hydrotherapy sessions.

 

Hedgehogs are actually great swimmers and can cross ponds and even rivers. However, like humans they cannot swim forever. Many hedgehogs drown in garden ponds if they cannot easily find an escape route and get tired. Please make sure you provide easy escape routes from all garden ponds – there need to be many escape options. If there is only one escape option, they won’t necessarily find it.

Honey will carry on with the hydrotherapy until hopefully she improves in her walking.

UPDATE: Honey eventually made a good recovery and was released back to the wild.

I run a hedgehog hospital in York. My work is entirely self-funded. You can support my work by perusing my handmade silver jewellery or making a donation. You can also read more about my hedgehog rescue work here.