HEDGEHOG FRIENDLY GARDEN
How to Make Your Garden Hedgehog Friendly
Hedgehogs are much loved little mammals which play an important role in the natural environment.
Over the last 50 years there has been a significant decline in hedgehogs’ numbers across the UK. There are several reasons for this, the destruction of their natural habitat, an increase in intensive farming methods and more traffic on our roads to name a few.
Encouraging hedgehogs into your garden is a great way to help protect these much-loved animals. Also known as the gardener's friend, they are a natural way to reduce pests, as they love to eat slugs, snails and other creepy crawlies.
Here are a few simple things that you can do to make your garden welcoming for hedgehogs.
Make a Hog House
Hedgehogs need a safe, warm, shelter and this is a great way to encourage them to take up residence in your garden.
You can buy or alternatively build your own hedgehogs house using natural material such as twigs and leaves. Hedgehogs hibernate between November and March, so the ideal time to create a hog house is before they ‘tuck themselves in’ before the Winter.
The location of the hog house is also important. Ideally you should pick an area of your garden that can be left to overgrow. This will create an undisturbed area – a perfect spot for hibernation in winter and nesting in the Spring months.
Tip: Hedgehogs are super fussy about the material that they use to build their nests. They love leaves of deciduous trees such as oak, apple or hornbeam.
Garden fencing is another reason for the decline of hedgehogs in the UK, as they need more than one garden to survive.
Hedgehogs can travel around 2km per night in the hunt for food or 3km in mating season in search of a mate.
Hedgehogs need more than one garden to survive. The increase in garden fencing and walls has also contributed to the decline in these spiney creatures numbers.
By creating a small gap, under your fence at ground level of just 13 cm square this will provide a hedgehog with access in and out of your garden.
There are several things that you can do to make your garden safe for hedgehogs.
Netting can be hazardous to hedgehogs who often get entangled or injured in it. If netting is not in use it should be stored away safely or binned.
Cover up or fill any holes that could become a trap for a hedgehog visiting your garden, for example drains.
Although hedgehogs can swim, they are sometimes found drowned in ponds as they have been unable to get out. To prevent this, you can place large rocks or stones in the water to create a slope and safe pathway out of the pond.
Slug pellets are great for getting rid of slugs, but they are also a sure way to make a hog ill (or worse still die). They are also a very tasty source of food for hedgehogs, so avoiding the use of pesticides will make your garden more attractive to these little mammals.
Leave Food Out
Leave hedgehog friendly food out for visiting hogs. Hedgehogs can eat:
Dog or cat food in jelly
Raw mince (finely chopped)
Unsalted, chopped nuts
Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, so do not leave out milk or bread as this is likely to make them sick.
It is important to keep these little creatures safe once you have attracted them into your garden. Some things to do:
Check for hedgehogs before using lawn mowers or garden strimmers
Check compost heaps before turning them over
Avoid pesticides as these can poison hogs
If you are building a bonfire, do this close to the time that it will be lit (also check before hand)
Follow these steps to create the perfect home for hogs!