Hedgehogs in your garden
You are so lucky if you have nightly visits from a hedgehog. As well as the pleasure of supporting these endangered animals he/she will also help to keep your garden free of slugs & snails.
You can encourage them and keep them safe by following some simple advice:
Put out food and water nightly - meat variety cat/dog meat in jelly, cat biscuits/dried mealworms/crushed peanuts are just a few suggestions.
A very simple feeding station will keep the food dry. The feeding station can be as simple or as complex as you wish. They can be purchased online but it is very simple to make one using an upturned storage box with a 5” square hole cut in the short side, placing a brick on top to prevent it blowing away, and making a “dog leg” tunnel outside the entrance to prevent the local cats partaking in the nightly feast.
We understand cats are not very keen on mealworms or peanuts so that may be the only deterrent you need!
A hedgehog house would be an asset and again could be either purchased from a suitable supplier or home made. Its a good idea to have either a long entrance at the front or a division inside the house to deter anything from disturbing the hedgehog. You can find details on-line if attempting to make one yourself - very possible with a few DIY skills. It's approximately 47cm long, 34 cm wide and 37cm high with 6cm legs to lift it off the ground. You can cover the roof in felt to keep it dry and the roof lifts off for easy cleaning in spring. If you choose to treat the wood make sure you use a safe water based product as some preservatives could be harmful to hedgehogs.
The hedgehog house can be cleaned out in early spring, just after hibernation and before they start producing young. Add new dry bedding such as soft meadow hay or dry leaves.
Take care when working in the garden. Removing shrubs, cutting long grass, reducing pampas grass (a favourite nesting site for hedgehogs) strimming, using a fork to lift compost from your bin can all cause horrific injuries to resting hedgehogs. Please check the area before you move in with the equipment.
Before you light a bonfire, either move it to another site (the safest method) or please check underneath as this is a 5 star hotel to a hedgehog.
If you have a pond check that hedgehogs can escape from it. The butyl ones can cause problems simply due to the fact a hedgehog cannot get out unless stepping stones or a simple ramp (made with plastic coated netting is one simple idea) are provided. They are good swimmers but soon become exhausted and may die if there is no escape route.
Please check any drains are covered. A hedgehog will sometimes smell water down a drain and go in to get a drink and then be unable to get out again. Even if they're lucky enough to be rescued, their claws will be damaged trying to escape and require a long spell in care.
Any holes dug, for whatever reason, and being left overnight should be covered as a hedgehog can easily fall in and become trapped.
Don't use slug pellets as they don't just kill slugs. If you must use slug pellets please buy organically approved ones (Advanced Slug Killer) which use ferric phosphate and not metaldehyde and are just as effective according to “Which” magazine.
Don't leave full bin bags lying around as a curious hedgehog may choose to settle in them with dire consequences.
Empty cans/yoghurt pots can prove a hazard to a hedgehog out looking for an easy meal. They can get their heads stuck and become trapped until they die a very slow and painful death. Please flatten them as a precaution.
If removing a garden shed please check underneath – a family of hedgehogs could be nesting there. Please leave the floor in place until the family has moved on.