Hedgehogs are in serious trouble. In the past 10 years their numbers have declined by possibly 50%. If this decline continues at its present rate, in years to come the only hedgehog that we see may be pictures in a book.
The good news is that we can all do our bit and help hedgehogs have a future.
Make your garden hedgehog friendly. The hedgehog is the gardener’s friend. For example, their favourite foods include beetles, caterpillars and slugs and snails if there is nothing much else to eat.
- Create a wildlife corner by letting an area of your garden go ‘wild’. Piles of logs, branches and dried leaves for example can be used by hedgehogs.
- Provide entry and exit points in your fences and hedges to enable hedgehogs to move from garden to garden. Talk to your neighbours and become a hedgehog street.
- Provide a nest box and a dish of fresh water all year round (especially in hot weather) and put out some food (wet cat/dog food or dry cat biscuits). Make a feeding station to prevent the local cats helping themselves.
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society has a great leaflet on gardening ‘with’ hedgehogs
Help hedgehogs stay out of trouble.
- Remove any potential dangers such as rubbish which hedgehogs can get caught in.
- Keep all netting a foot off the ground so hedgehogs can walk under it. If they get tangled they cannot escape.
- Take extra care when moving or turning compost heaps since there may be a hedgehog resting inside.
- Hedgehogs are good swimmers but can drown in garden ponds because they cannot get out, so provide an escape ramp or some stones so that it can clamber out.
- Take extra care when using lawnmowers and strimmers since a hedgehog may have a nest in the long grass.
- Avoid using slug pellets since hedgehogs eat the slugs that have eaten the poison, and this can be fatal.
- Dogs can attack hedgehogs so take extra care when letting your dog out into the garden after dark.
- Cover any drain holes and provide escape routes from any deep holes in the garden.
Finally, many hedgehogs are killed on the roads. Please drive carefully and never deliberately drive over a hedgehog.