Published on August 15th, 2014 | by admin0
How to Attract Hedgehogs to Your Garden
Hedgehogs are wonderful and harmless creatures and are very good for our gardens. This article describes the problems they face and how we can help, and attract them to our gardens.
Sadly, wild Hedgehogs are in serious decline in the UK, and some experts believe they could become extinct within 20 years , unless drastic action is taken.
The full reasons for this are not fully understood, and urgent research is going on to try and find this out. However by very name, and nature hedgehogs have been associated with living under hedges.
Unfortunately we have lost over 90% of our country hedgerows due to changes in farm practices , and increased construction in our countryside.
Hedgehogs have instead therefore looked for places they can shelter and live, and that has brought many to our gardens.
This in itself has led to further decline, with modern trends meaning many garden hedges have been removed and decking , slabbing and fence panels have changed our garden landscapes ,and restricted habitats for hedgehogs further.
Further garden problems
Those hedgehogs that have sort refuge in our gardens sadly face further problems:
2. Garden Ponds
3. Poisons (pesticides, fertilisers and other chemicals). slug pellets ,
4. Garden Ponds
5. Bonfire stacks.
What we can do to help
All is not lost, and there are things we can do to help hedgehogs survive in our gardens.
1. Access… Fences.. can a hedgehog actually get into your garden ?
A small 5″(13cm) x 5″ (13cm) gap under a gate or fence is all a hedgehog needs to get into your garden. If you have fencing all around and no such gaps, you could just cut a hole that size in one panel, or simply lift a panel up by using a brick.
If you have concrete gravel boards at your fence base, you can use a large drill bit to carefully drill a round hole to that size.If your not confident in doing this yourself ,sure someone that is, can help you.
2. Putting out food and water.
A hedgehog needs to visit quite a few gardens to get enough balanced food to survive, and may travel over a mile each night to find it.Hence why we need to let them get from garden to garden by leaving entrances.
They also need direct water to drink especially in hot weather.
A hedgehogs main diet is earth worms and beetles and only 5% slugs. If they cannot get access to enough gardens for a balanced diet, they will eat too many slugs/snails. These contain parasites and eating too many slugs/snails may kill a hedgehog.
Therefore to help them at night , put out wet or dry cat or dog food, or hedgehog food you can buy from shops. To stop cats or foxes eating the food, you can build a simple hedgehog feeding station. This can just be an upturned plastic food container from 40cm (18 inches) long, and 20cm (8 inches high) will do .
Just take off the lid ,cut a hole 5 inches ( 13 cm) x 5inches (13cm) ,then put the food and a bowl of water inside. Turn the container upside down, over the food/water. Then place a brick 3 inches (8cm) from the hole, to stop cats/foxes getting in,and a brick on top to stop them being able to move it.
You can also buy feeding stations at some garden centres and stores.
Hedgehogs are good swimmers, but if they cannot get out of a steep sided pond they will drown. Therefore by putting a small ramp at one end ,a flat piece of wood will do, wide enough for them to scramble out ,this can be alleviated.
Bonfires make inviting places for hedgehogs to make a home. By checking before lighting a bonfire ,that they are not inside,we can ensure their safety.
If hedgehogs eat slug pellets the poison can and does kill them. By considering using organic pellets, or broken egg shells around plants to reduce slug/snail contact with prized plants. A small margarine tub with some beer in is also very good at attracting and drowning slugs/snails.
This also relates to other poisons, pesticides that are sometimes used in the garden to control pests and waterproof fences/sheds.. Try and buy ones that are animal friendly.
Check all long grass/overgrown areas, for any hidden hedgehogs before using a strimmer. These devices can kill and seriously maim a hedgehog.
Keeping part of the garden wild.
By letting one part of our gardens stay wild and overgrown, we can help hedgehogs find some cover, and also create an environment where insects can become prevalent and hedgehogs can feed on.
Danger.. hedgehogs out in the daylight !
Lastly, Hedgehogs are nocturnal and apart from occasional female hedgehogs being out in the day busily collecting leaves just before she gives birth, they should NOT be out in the day.
If you see one out in the day it might look fine but it will probably be very ill.
Please put it in a box ,using some gloves so you don’t get pricked and give Happyhogs a call on 07984 716868, we are based in Solihull, or look up where you local hedgehog rescue centre is.
Alternatively you can call the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584890801, who will find you your nearest centre.