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Help for Hedgehogs

March 20, 2024 3 min read

Help for Hedgehogs

In 2011 the first ‘State of Britain’s Hedgehogs’ report highlighted that several surveys had found that there had been a widespread loss of hedgehogs over the previous decade.  In fact, the threat to hedgehogs is so great that in 2020 they were added to the IUCN Red List as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ in Great Britain. The reasons for this loss are many, such as loss of habitat or fragmentation and that pesticides are killing the insects they like to eat. 

As we come into spring hedgehogs start to emerge from hibernation and traditionally this occurs between March and May. So, if you are lucky enough to have hedgehogs visiting your garden, what can be done to help them survive and thrive?

Install a hedgehog house

Hedgehogs can use their hedgehog house in different ways, for daytime naps, for having and bringing up babies or for hibernation.

  • Place your hedgehog house in a quiet, shady spot where it won’t be disturbed.
  • Ensure the entrance is out of the wind – behind the shed or under a thick hedge is ideal.
  • Hedgehog houses are often used by younger, less experienced hedgehogs so you can help them get started by putting some dry leaves and twigs inside the house. You can also use small amounts of straw or hay
  • Gathering the materials and building the nest is a key part of hedgehog behaviour, so be careful not to overfill your hog house.

You can buy your own hedgehog house here Driftwood Hedgehog House - We Are Fair Trade Ltd

Provide food and water

  • Leave out foods such as tinned cat or dog food or you can choose a specialist hedgehog food.
  • Never feed hedgehogs bread and milk – milk can cause them serious digestive issues and bread isn’t sufficiently nutritious.
  • Check the bowls each day, top the water and replace any uneaten food with fresh.
  • Clean the dishes (do this outside, not in the kitchen) to reduce the risk of disease spreading between different hedgehogs that may eat from the same dish.

What else can you do?

  • Cover holes. Hedgehogs can fall into uncovered drains or holes in your garden, so either cover them or check them to ensure no hedgehogs have become caught.
  • Provide exit routes from ponds. Place bricks or stones at the side, or a sloped edge, so any hedgehog that falls in can climb out.
  • Cover swimming pools at night or when not being used.
  • Check for hedgehogs before using a strimmer or lawn mower.
  • If you're forking over your compost heap, check for hedgehogs before you start.
  • Thoroughly check and disturb bonfires before you light them.
  • Litter can be dangerous for hedgehogs, they can get heads stuck in tin cans or plastic binding. Dispose of all rubbish carefully and keep the garden free from litter.
  • Make sure any netting you have in the garden is away from ground level, to prevent hedgehogs becoming tangled. Pack away tennis or goal nets when not in use.
  • Avoid slug pellets and pesticides, these can kill hedgehogs and should only be a last resort. Not only can the pellets themselves kill hedgehogs, if they do eat a poisoned slug it can also be fatal.
  • Create a hedgehog highway. One of the main threats to hedgehogs is fragmentation – they can travel up to one mile in a night and walls and fences stop them doing this.  A hole 13x13cm is big enough for a hedgehog to pass through so by leaving a small hole in the fence, or removing a brick from the garden wall you can help them move around to find food or a mate. 

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