Hedgehogs are one of Britain’s adorable little wild mammals; they are small, round and covered in defensive spines.
They like to hang out in parks and gardens in the hedges. They eat lots of insects, mostly beetles, earthworms, caterpillars and slugs, which is a help to us gardeners.
Sadly hedgehogs are under threat. Due to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, development, pesticides and traffic their numbers are dropping. But you can help!
Gardens are great habitat for hedgehogs; flowerbeds and lawns provide food and hedges provide cover.
According to the Wildlife Trusts all our gardens combined “provide a space for wildlife larger than all our National Nature Reserves, so by gardening in a wildlife-friendly way, we can help our spiny companions to find a home and move safely between habitats to find mates and food”.
Top tips to help hedgehogs in your garden:
- Leave little holes at the bottom of your fences or wall (a 13cm square gap is all they need), or even better, use hedges instead. Hedgehogs roam several km per night and his will allow hedgehogs to move between gardens and help make sure they have enough territory to find enough food.
- Move piles of logs, leaves, cuttings or other garden waste before burning. Please remember this on bonfire night!
- Check before strimming, mowing, or forking your compost heap. Long grass is great for wildlife but when it’s time to cut, make sure there’s nothing hiding in it first.
- Use fewer pesticides and don’t use slug pellets; eating poisoned slugs will poison the hedgehog. There are alternatives such as using copper tape or coffee grounds.
- If you have a pond make sure to place a ramp or some rocks so that if a hedgehog falls in, it can climb out. Also, don’t leave holes, drains or trenches uncovered.
- Keep any netting off the ground. If you have nets over plants try having a board around the bottom for the net to fall behind, 8cm high should be sufficient to prevent hedgehogs and other creatures getting caught in it.
- Leave wild patches and some grass, logs and leaves for hedgehogs to use as nesting material. You can also make or buy hedgehog houses.
- Have flowerbeds to attract insects for the hedgehogs to eat.
- Leave out a shallow dish of water for hedgehogs especially when it is hot, it can be a life saver. Do not use milk as hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. You can also supplement their diet with cat biscuits and cat or dog food (loaf varieties, non-fishy).
If you see an injured hedgehog, or one that is acting odd or unwell, use gloves or a towel and gently pick it up and pop it into a box with a towel at the bottom. Hedgehogs don’t sunbathe; if you see a hedgehog out in the day it is likely to need help. Keep it warm no matter the weather; you can use a covered hot water bottle but remember not to let it get cold. Offer water and call for advice.
- There is a quick guide to help you decide when to help HERE
- If you need to intervene the British Hedgehog Protection Society (BHPS) information is HERE
- And there is a fuller guide of what to do HERE at hedgehogstreet.org
- To find your local RSPCA search HERE
There is a lot of information and advice on hedgehogs and wildlife gardening on the BHPS, Wildlife Trusts and Folly websites:
Please help to spread the word about how people can help hedgehogs – there are some great posters and leaflets you can download. Can you put one on your school notice board or at your place of work? There are also lots of hedgehog rescue sites on Facebook and Twitter – just search for ‘hedgehog’ and follow their great work.
Thank you to Emma Farley who helped me with this article and provided the photographs. Emma helps rescued hedgehogs and sells pretty silver jewellery to help fund her work , her Etsy shop can be found HERE.
If you wish to know more about hedgehogs then stay tuned! An interview with Emma about her work will be coming soon 😀 [The interview is now up HERE]
In the meantime, you can donate to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society HERE or donate to your local rescue centre.
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[At the time of this post this blog is not monetized in any way. I am not making any funds from linking to Emma’s store]
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Edited to add: This website is asking for reports of hedgehog sightings and is mapping them. They also are encouraging people to make holes in boundaries for hedgehogs to pass through.
Emma has now joined WordPress, you can read her blog HERE.
There’s a directory map of wildlife rescue and rehabilitators HERE.