Hedgehogs are a great natural pest eater so should be a welcome visitor to your garden. Encouraging hedgehogs into our gardens and supporting them throughout the year can help to keep them from declining in population. In the last 50 years we’ve seen numbers of hedgehogs fall dramatically and there are thought to be fewer than 1 million left in the UK.
How to: Give a hedgehog a home
Hedgehogs roam far and wide in search of food, mates and nesting sites. Encourage them into your garden by providing a variety of habitats like log piles, ponds, leaf litter, or purposebuilt hedgehog homes where they can nest and hibernate. Most gardens are enclosed either by fences or walls so why not try cutting holes in the bottom of your fence, removing bricks from walls, or digging tunnels under the garden boundary. This will allow local hedgehogs to move freely in and out of your garden during the year.
How to: Keep hedgehogs safe in your garden
- Approach your compost heap with caution as hedgehogs love to sleep underneath to keep warm.
- If you’re building bonfires make sure you burn on the same day, this will make sure that hedgehogs don’t get a chance to climb under before you’ve started your fire.
- Before you start cutting your lawn make sure if you have any high grass to check for hedgehogs that may be hiding.
- Dispose of any litter in your garden so hedgehogs don’t eat the wrong things, this can harm their health.
- Stop using slug pellets and avoid chemical pesticides, hedgehogs will naturally control the number of pests in your garden.
How to: Feed hedgehogs
Hedgehogs must store enough fat and be in great condition to last them during the winter months when they go into hibernation. You can help by providing food and fresh water – this will encourage hedgehogs to return to your animal friendly garden. Foods such as tinned dog or cat food (not fish-based) and crushed dog or cat biscuits are a great treat to leave out. Specialist hedgehog food is also highly recommended and can be bought from our indoor garden shop (see below). Never feed hedgehogs milk as it can cause diarrhoea; instead provide plain, fresh water in a shallow bowl so they can easily access it.
Did you know?
Hedgehogs are known to roll themselves into a ball of spines if they feel threatened. These spines are actually modified hairs, the average hedgehog has around 7,000 of them, which can be raised by using powerful muscles along their back.