Hedgehogs are Britain’s favourite wild creatures, and they’re especially loved by gardeners thanks to their habit of eating slugs. Sadly, their numbers have dropped by 30% in the last decade, so taking care of hedgehogs has never been more important. Here are our top tips for looking after hedgehogs.
How to make your garden hedgehog-friendly
- Hedgehogs need space to roam, so cut holes at ground level in fences, or dig channels under dense hedges so they can get through. The holes should be about 13cm high by 13cm wide (5in x 5in).
- Don’t use slug pellets, as these could poison hedgehogs if they eat affected slugs.
- Don’t be too tidy. Leave some tall perennials standing over winter or leave an area of grass unmown to create homes for insects. Mulch beds with compost to encourage earthworms, and build woodpiles to attract woodlice. Hedgehogs love to eat bugs and worms!
- If you have a pond in your garden, make sure hedgehogs and other wildlife can get out of it. Make a shallow beach at one end, or use a plank of wood wrapped in chicken wire as a non-slip ramp.
- Leave a pile of leaves in a quiet corner of your garden for a hedgehog nest, or buy a purpose-built hedgehog house.
- Always check for hedgehog nests before forking over compost heaps or strimming long grass.
What to do if you find a hedgehog?
If you see a hedgehog in the daytime, it could be injured or ill. To look after a sick hedgehog, make a temporary home for it by lining a large, high-sided cardboard box with an old towel or some scrunched up newspaper to give the hedgehog somewhere to hide.
Wearing gardening gloves, gently put the hedgehog in the box, together with a dish of water and a wrapped hot-water bottle for warmth. Make sure there’s enough room for the hedgehog to move away from the hot water bottle, and check that the hot water bottle doesn’t get cold.
Put the box somewhere quiet and safe. Then contact an organisation like the British Hedgehog Preservation Society who will be able to give you further advice.
What to feed hedgehogs
It’s important to feed hedgehogs the right food, especially in autumn when they need to put on weight for their winter hibernation.
Don’t feed hedgehogs bread or milk, as this will make them ill, and also avoid mealworms, as these can cause bone density problems. Tinned meaty cat or dog food is perfect for hedgehogs. You can also buy special hedgehog feed, or use cat food biscuits. If you’re putting out dry food, make sure to provide water in shallow dishes as well.
We have everything to help you look after hedgehogs and other wildlife this winter, so come in and see our wide range of wildlife-friendly products!