In recent years one of our favourite spiky little friend has been in decline meaning hedgehogs in the U.K are in SERIOUS trouble. It’s estimated that the numbers are already down 95% since the 1950s. There are small things we can do to help which would have a big impact.
’Hedgehog highway’ - cut a small hole, about 13cm, making a little space to allow hedgehogs to move freely, in the bottom of your garden fences this will help by creating pathways, letting them find food and a mate. An adult hedgehog travels between 1 -2 KM per night and over 20 hectares to find a mate.
Plant a hedge & native plants - a hedge is a perfect habitat for foraging, hibernation and a place to raise their young. We recommend native plants such as Hawthorne or Hazel which will increase the attraction of their favourite treat - caterpillars. Other plants such as honeysuckle, dog rose & blackthorn attract nourishing foods for passing hedgehogs.
Gardening- as the weather is getting warming it’s a perfect time for taming your gardens. When strimming take a little time to check your long grass first for hedgehogs to help prevent injuries. If you're lucky enough to find hedgehogs in your garden move them carefully to a safe and secluded spot.
Hibernation - try to not to disturb them during this time as they use up valuable body fats. If you do accidentally disturb a hedgehog cover them back up with leaves and leave food and drink nearby just in case they do wake up. This will allow them to eat and then find a new place to recover and hibernate.
Leave out food and drink - leaving out a small amount of food is a great helping hand. The best foods to leave out for hedgehogs include tinned dog or cat food or crushed dog and cat biscuits. Avoid leaving out bread or milk as this can dehydrate or even kill a hedgehog, leave water instead.
Ponds - make your pond safe for a hedgehog with a ramp or ensure your pond has sloping sides so a hedgehog can exit quickly. Although hedgehogs can swim they quickly become exhausted and this may just save hedgehogs life.
Slug pellets contain metaldehyde, this can be deadly to hedgehogs. Try not to put slug pellets in your garden or purchase wildlife-friendly organic pellets instead, this means the pellets will contain less-lethal ferric phosphate.. never the less this still helps control snails and slug predators in the garden.
If you do find an injured hedgehog, use thick gloves and handle the hog with care. Hold with both hands and place into a cardboard box with air holes and lined with newspaper with a small tea towel for cover and to snuggle up to. In late autumn look out for underweight hedgehogs, a healthy weight for a hedgehog is 600 gms. If you find an underweight hedgehog or a hedgehog out in the day, (hedgehogs are nocturnal and only come out at night so if you see a hedgehog in the day they are probably in trouble) please phone or take them to a wildlife rescue centre.
This will allow them to be cared for and re-entered into the wild in a healthier state.
by Courtney Wemyss