Creating a Hedgehog Friendly Garden
Many hedgehogs make nests in gardens during the winter (November through to March) and may still be in hibernation or just sleeping during the day, when the gardener starts to get busy in the spring. Hedgehogs will be sleeping when you are gardening and are at risk of gardening injuries.
“Hedgehogs are a gardener’s friend and only do good in gardens but sadly as soon as gardeners start tidying their gardens this is a dangerous time for hedgehogs as some terrible injuries are caused by strimming, digging and mowing”
For lots more information on creating a hedgehog friendly garden watch a short video here.
Hedgehogs on the Move
Hedgehogs can travel around two kilometres every night through our parks and gardens searching for food and a mate. .Enclosed gardens without hedgehog access will prevent them from following their natural instinct.
One of the main reasons for hedgehog decline in the UK is because our fences and walls are becoming more and more secure, reducing the amount of land available to them. They then have to go further afield, often crossing busy roads in the process and being seriously injured or killed by cars.
We can help hedgehogs find their way around safely by removing as many obstacles as possible.
- Remove a brick from the bottom of the wall
- cut a small hole approximately 5 inches square in your fence if there are no gaps
- dig a channel underneath your wall, fence or gate to allow access
A good hedgehog nest is essential for winter hibernation.
Cutting a hole at the base of a fence helps hedgehogs to travel through gardens without using roads and other danger areas.
Claire’s 10 Top Tips for hedgehog garden safety:
- Check before digging, strimming or mowing and if you find a hedgehog nest leave it alone and garden round it. Long grass is an ideal home for hedgehogs so check first.
- Hedgehogs can swim and most drown by falling into ponds and not being able to get out. If you have a garden pond create a ramp or steps so the hedgehog can climb out easily
- Slug pellets and pesticides are highly poisonous to hedgehogs so please do not use them – For alternative hedgehog friendly methods visit www.hedgehogstreet.org
- You can make or buy a hedgehog feeding station. Hedgehogs naturally eat beetles, earthworms, caterpillars and slugs but they also love cat or dog meat in jelly, cat/dog biscuits, sunflower hearts and dried meal worms. They need lots of water and never give a hedgehog bread and milk as they are lactose intolerant and there is no nutrition in bread - see what I like to eat
- Check compost heaps and piles of garden leaves for hedgehog nests and if a hedgehog is nesting leave it alone
- Hedgehogs can travel up to 2km each night so need a route in and out of your garden so that they can find food throughout the night and roam between your garden and your neighbours. Ideally hedgehogs need up to 10 gardens to roam freely so we need to link gardens by creating a 4-5 inch square gap in fences to ensure the survival of our native hedgehog and keep them away from busy roads.
- Dedicate a corner of your garden to hedgehogs. Leave it wild with piles of leaves, dry wood, branches and even compost. Wild garden areas give hedgehogs the chance to find shelter, bring up young and hibernate.
- Check for hedgehogs when lighting bonfires or moving piles of leaves.
- Keep garden nets 0.5m above the ground, so that hedgehogs don’t get tangled
- Never disturb a hedgehog nest: If you accidentally do so, wear gloves and replace the nesting materials. If babies are in the nest keep a close eye on it and if the mother does not return the following morning get help by calling your local hedgehog rescue centre