Did you know it’s Hedgehog Awareness Week? Well it is, so here are our top tips for attracting and helping these prickly garden visitors, who sadly are in decline in the UK.
Build a hedgehog highway: one of the challenges facing hedgehogs in urban areas is getting around enough gardens at night to forage. Solid walls and fences don’t help when you need to travel up to a mile in one night to find enough food. So cut a hole or leave a gap about the size of a music CD in each of your garden boundaries and encourage your neighbours to do the same so each little island of garden habitat is connected and hedgehogs can get around.
Stop the slug pellets: these (and all other garden chemicals) are not only harmful to pests eating your precious plants, but anything else that eats them afterwards. Like hedgehogs, amphibians and the beautiful but declining Song Thrush. There are just as effective organic or chemical-free solutions to slug control. My favourite is a biological control that uses tiny parasitic nematodes that kill slugs but don’t harm anything else. Beer traps also work well, and the slugs die happy. Or you could just garden with plants that are great for wildlife and not so prone to slug damage?
Build a log pile: stack logs, branches and woody cuttings in a pile in a quiet area, leaving a large cavity in the centre and some gaps a hedgehog might be able to squeeze through. Not only will it provide a potential hedgehog home but rotting wood is an important habitat for insects and other invertebrates, hedgehog food! You may also attract newts, toads, slow worms and even stag beetles the more dead wood you can include in your garden habitat.
Provide water: a shallow dish of fresh water can be a lifesaver to a thirsty hedgehog in the summer months. If you can create a small container pond or full on wildlife pond even better, but make sure there are ways for hedgehogs to scramble out of a pond if they fall in. Ponds with steep, slippery sides are a death trap for hedgehogs and other wildlife so create a beach area in the shallows or pile up some logs, branches and plants near the side just in case.
Check compost heaps & bonfire piles: these piles of material can make excellent homes or temporary shelters for hedgehogs too, so always check them carefully before sticking a garden fork in them or lighting that fire.
Make a feeding station: with a few simple supplies you can create a hedgehog restaurant that excludes larger diners like cats and foxes. You could even set up a trail camera and see who comes to visit your garden at night. Fun for all the family!
Log your sightings: to allow conservation organisations to build up a picture of where hedgehog hot spots are and where they are in trouble, we need the power of Citizen Science! So log your sightings of hedgehogs here and here. We’d also love you to post any sightings or photos you have on Facebook for our members to enjoy.
Donate to Hedgehog Awareness Week: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/HAW20