Tour of my wildlife garden

Wildlife gardening
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Join me on this little tour of some of the wildlife friendly features in my garden including compost heaps, hedgehog houses, water bowls and an insect hotel. Spring is a great time to be getting your garden ready for wildlife and hedgehogs emerging from hibernation.

If I’ve inspired you to make your garden more wildlife friendly, here are my pages with lots of advice on completing your transformation.

Hedgehog friendly gardening

Creating hedgehog highways

What plants to grow for wildlife

How to build an insect hotel

In addition, I don’t use any pesticides or herbicides anywhere in the garden. Slug pellets are also banned!

Hedgehog hole to link gardens

Hedgehog hole through to a neighbouring garden

 

Insect hotel, bug house, wildlife hotel

My home-made insect hotel

I run a hedgehog rescue in York, England. Like all wildlife rescues, my work is entirely self funded. You can find out more about my work here. If you’ve been inspired to support my work, you can do so here.

I’d love to see your pictures of your wildlife garden and any top tips you have for attracting wildlife into your garden.

Hedgehogs are waking up hungry and thirsty

Wild hedgehog drinking from a water bowl
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The first wild hedgehog has woken up from hibernation in my garden and he’s really thirsty.

Look how much he drinks!

I leave out a shallow bowl of water all year round. You’d be amazed how much a small hedgehog needs to drink. Providing water helps to prevent them venturing into dangerous places like ponds. In Summer, water is even more vital when they can easily die from dehydration.

I’m getting reports of hedgehogs waking up from hibernation all around the country. This hedgehog has emerged the same week as the first from last year. I’m in York and you will see from the video that the night time temperature is 7 degrees.

Now is the perfect time to be thinking about leaving food and water out for hedgehogs and other wildlife. Also to be thinking about how to make your garden wildlife friendly.

I run a hedgehog hospital in York. My work is entirely self-funded. You can find out more about my work here and also how to support it.

WHOSE POO? Wildlife poo identification guide

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Sharing this wonderful page from BBC Wildlife Magazine with its excellent guide to identifying who is leaving poop in your garden.

Garden poo chart

Read this alongside my blog about how to identify hedgehog poo.

Hedgehogs often poo inside or nearby feeding stations in my experience….

I run a hedgehog hospital in York, England. My work is entirely self-funded. You can find out more about how to support my work here.

Attracting insects to your garden – Build an insect or bug hotel

Insect hotel, bug house, wildlife hotel
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What does an insect hotel have to do with hedgehogs? Well, insects (and particularly beetles) are actually top of the hedgehog diet. Attracting insects into your garden will also help hedgehogs and other wildlife thrive.

Autumn is a great time to build one – when you will be able to forage for plenty of pine cones, twigs and leaves.

wild hedgehog diet

The wild hedgehog diet – with beetles at the No.1 spot!

To build your insect hotel, you will need:

  • Imagination
  • Lots of foraged items
  • Some basic DIY skills
  • Inspiration
  • Plenty of time – it takes longer than you think
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Our finished bug hotel

Insect hotels are all very different so I am not going to give you a step by step guide to how I built mine but, instead, I’m sharing my top tips. You can create yours with a pitched or flat roof, perhaps even with a living roof of plants. If you are looking for a step-by-step guide, you can find one here

The insect hotel built by my husband uses wood from old wooden pallets as a base to create the compartments and the roof slats. He has constructed a hedgehog nesting area underneath by creating a foundation of bricks, built around a cavity. We later filled the cavity with hay. You can fill your insect hotel with all sorts of things but ours included:

  • Plastic drainpipe
  • Bricks
  • Offcuts of wood with holes drilled in
  • Twigs
  • Logs
  • Fruit canes cut into lengths
  • Pine cones
  • Hay
  • Leaves
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We created a base of bricks underneath the hotel and filled it with hay for hibernating hedgehogs

Start by creating a mood board using Pinterest, which is packed with photographs of the insect hotels that other people have created which you can use as inspiration.

Scour freecycle  and gumtree as well as local community pages for free or cheap wooden pallets and wood offcuts (untreated wood). I picked up a large pallet for £1.

If you are hoping to attract solitary bees, the hotel needs to be south facing.

It took part of 3 weekends to create this large insect hotel. It has a front and a back section but we’ve focused on filling the front section so far. It makes a lovely feature when viewed from the kitchen window!

Insects were already taking up occupation before we had finished building, so we know it works…

We created the ‘bug hotel’ sign by engraving the word using a Dremmel tool and then using a soldering iron to turn the letters black.

Don’t forget to share your pictures when you have finished!

If you don’t have time to build a fancy insect hotel, remember that a big pile of logs can also be great for attracting beetles and here are some other great tips for making your garden hedgehog friendly.

You can also read about what plants to grow to attract insets.

I run a hedgehog rescue in York, England. My work is entirely self-funded. You can find out more about supporting my work here.

Why you shouldn’t feed hedgehogs mealworms

Hedgehogs feeding in garden
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Like many people, I used to feed dried mealworms to my visiting garden hedgehogs. I used to feed them in moderation but I had no idea quite how bad they were for the health of my spiky friends.

I knew that mealworms were to hedgehogs what sweets are to children. If given the choice, they would live on nothing but this junk food. They are highly addictive and hedgehogs will soon choose to consume nothing else.

What I didn’t know though was that mealworms, and probably also foods like peanut kibble and sunflower hearts, actively strip bones of calcium. This is the likely cause of increasing numbers of hedgehogs coming into hedgehog rescues with metabolic bone disease, including Benjamin who was cared for here last year.

Hedgehogs feeding in garden

I used to feed visiting hedgehogs a mix of kitten biscuits and a few mealworms. Now I’ve cut out the mealworms completely.

Please read the article to find out the full reasons why you shouldn’t feed these foods. A good quality kitten or cat biscuit, water and some meaty cat or dog food (non gravy) is all you need to keep your prickly visitors healthy.

You can also help by making your garden insect friendly to ensure there are plenty of beetles and caterpillars – their favourite natural foods. There is plenty of calcium in the exoskeletons of beetles.

I run a hedgehog rescue in York, England. Like all wildlife rescues my work is entirely self funded. You can find out more about how to support my work here.

How to site your hedgehog box – a video showing where to place your hedgehog house

Hedgehog house
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I’ve made a little video with my top tips on how to site your hedgehog box.

A great read once you’ve bought one or made your own using my guide

I’d love to see your pics and how you get on.

I run a hedgehog hospital in York, England. Like all wildlife rescues, my work is entirely self-funded. You can support my work here

Build a hedgehog feeding station

Hedgehogs feeding in garden
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Want to feed hedgehogs but not your neighbourhood cats? A hedgehog feeding station may well be the answer. It also helps to keep the food and the hedgehog dry when it is raining. Hedgehogs aren’t keen on rain!

There are lots of options for feeding stations. You can buy a ready made one, I use a wooden hedgehog house (see header pic) or you can also build your own very cheaply from a plastic box. Please remember that a feeding station should only be used for food – don’t mix dinner with bed and breakfast. Use a separate hedgehog box to provide a house.

You will need:

  • A plastic storage box with a lid. A minimum of 12″ wide by 18″ (but can be bigger)
  • A stanley knife or strong scissors to cut the hole
  • Measuring tape to measure the size of the hole
  • Strong tape to cover the cut edges of the hole
  • A brick
  • Small but heavy ceramic bowls for food

Building the box

  • Decide whether you want to have the box with the lid on or whether you want to turn the box upside down with the lid underneath.
  • Carefully cut out a hole around 4.5″ square.
  • Tape up the edges of the hole – they may be jagged
  • Line the box with newspaper
  • Put the food at the far end of the box
  • Place a brick on top to help prevent the lid being taken off by a fox/cat
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Feeding station lined with newspaper. Pic courtesy http://www.thehedgehog.co.uk

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Place a brick on top of the box. Pic courtesy http://www.thehedgehog.co.uk

Check the box daily and change the newspaper when it gets dirty. Wash the food bowls regularly to keep them clean.

You can also decrease the risk of cats getting into the feeding station by placing the entrance up against a fence or wall with only a hedgehog sized gap behind it….

If you want to check that your visitor is, in fact, a hedgehog, you can place a non-toxic ink pad at the entrance followed by a white paper lining. You should then be able to spot hedgehog footprints made by the ink….

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Hedgehog footprints. Pic courtesy http://www.hedgehogstreet.org

For suggestions of what food to put in your feeding station please read my blog.

I run a hedgehog rescue in York. I make silver jewellery to raise funds to support my work. My work is entirely self-funded. You can also make a donation to support my work here.

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