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Help hedgehogs this autumn

Posted: Thursday 19th October 2017 by WildlifeGardening

Hedgehog (c) T Marshall Hedgehog (c) T Marshall

Hedgehogs are in serious trouble but, by making a few small and simple changes in your garden, you can make a big difference to this welcome visitor. Andy Crory, Nature Reserves Manager, explains.

Everyone loves a hedgehog; they look cute, they can roll into a prickly ball and they snuffle around our gardens munching caterpillars, slugs and snails that devour our prized plants.

Seeing one is a magical experience, but like many, I haven’t come across one in almost fifteen years, except for road fatalities, and worse still, my children are beginning to think they’re fictional!

Sadly, hedgehogs are in trouble and are in a worse state of decline than tigers are worldwide. The main drivers are thought to be a loss of green space in towns and gardens, intensification of farming, reduced insect prey from chemical use and isolation by fences and roads.

But before we all retreat to the garden shed in depression, there’s so much we can do to help these wonderful creatures.

Hedgehogs will be getting ready to hibernate soon and need to feed intensively, weighing at least 600gms if they’re going to survive the winter. If you’re lucky to have one visit your garden, you could provide tinned dog or cat food and fresh water. If you see one out during the day, it’s in trouble and will need help – contact an animal rescuer.

Hedgehogs travel about one mile every evening in search of food, mates and nesting sites and need to roam freely between gardens. Cut a small hedgehog hole at the bottom of your garden fence to help them get in and out.

You could also give your hog a cosy place to sleep through the winter by building a hedgehog house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want hedgehogs in your garden, you need creepy crawlies in abundance which can be attracted by planting a variety of different plants and ensuring a diverse range of different habitats, from ponds and hedges to bug hotels and compost heaps.

One of the simplest things to do is to pile up some logs and leaves and leave some patches of long grass - perfect for nesting and for attracting hedgehog prey. Remember though to check for hidden hedgehogs before lighting bonfires, strimming and mowing the lawn. You also need to ditch the slug pellets which will kill hogs if eaten, and avoid the use of pesticides.

All so easy to do, yet will make a huge difference to these welcome garden visitors.

For more ideas, download our free 'Get creative for hedgehogs booklet. 

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