Did you know that since the turn of the century, the number of hedgehogs in the UK has fallen by nearly 50 per cent!? A 2018 report found that the population of hedgehogs in England, Wales and Scotland is now at one million, in comparison to three million in the 1950s. That is a drastic fall in such a short amount of time but it's not too late to start making a difference.
There are a number of things that you can (and can't do) in order to make your garden a safe haven for hedgehogs where they can come, relax and hopefully reproduce in safety to get the numbers back on the up!
Here we will outline some of these things you can do to create a hedgehog-friendly space and help the cute, spiky creatures around your neighbourhood.
Making Your Garden Hedgehog-Friendly
Provide suitable access
The first thing that you can do to create a hedgehog-friendly space is to create ways for them to get there! It may sound silly but there's no point in creating an area that caters for hedgehogs if they aren't able to reach it. So, ensure you have enough gaps or holes in and around fencing and hedges to allow hedgehogs to travel from one garden into yours and then the next. During the breeding season, male hedgehogs can roam between 1-2km per night, so enabling them to do so easily can be a real advantage. Aim to create 5 x 5" holes in places around the perimeter of your garden.
Food & water
With all of their travelling, it's helpful to leave hedgehogs some fresh, clean water to keep them well hydrated. Not only is this good for hedgehogs but other wildlife that may pass through your garden. Leave a small dish close to your hedgehog house. Food is also just as important as this provides energy and nourishment for hedgehogs to travel. You can buy specialised hedgehog food from your local pet store or can leave out cat/dog food if you have these pets already.
Create a nature corner
Another easy way that you can attract hedgehogs to your garden is by allowing one corner of your outdoor space to run wild and free. Allow plants and flowers to grow as they like without cutting them back to offer hedgehogs a natural space where they are more likely to nest during the winter. By doing this, you also attract a greater number of insects that hedgehogs can feed on! You can use branches and sticks to add structure and shelter to your little corner of nature.
Add a hedgehog house
A hedgehog house provides both food and shelter whilst adding to the aesthetics of your garden. Ready-made houses are available at most pet stores so it shouldn't be too much of a hassle to get one. You can even build your own! Having one hedgehog house in your garden is often enough for an average-sized garden, but for bigger gardens, we recommend three. It's important to remember to space out the houses as hedgehogs are lone-travelling creatures.
Making your pond safe
Ponds are great for all types of wildlife, not just hedgehogs. Therefore, if you have a pond in your garden already, optimising it to become hedgehog-friendly is a great idea! You can do this by installing small ramps to allow easy access and exit for hedgehogs. They are good swimmers but often get tired trying to get out, so by allowing them an easy exit point you will encourage them to enter.
Things to avoid when attracting hedgehogs to your garden
In addition to the points listed above that can help attract hedgehogs to your garden, it's important to know the things you should AVOID to prevent causing any unnecessary damage. These include:
- Using slug pellets or other chemicals in and around your garden
- Mowing or trimming your lawn and hedges without checking first
- Using netting on the ground and leaving litter lying around
- Making or lighting bonfires without checking
- Disturbing them during hibernation!
By doing these things, you run the risk of harming and potentially killing any hedgehogs that may stray into your garden, so it is important to avoid them whenever possible!
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We hope that you have found this quick guide on how to attract hedgehogs to your garden useful and that you will hopefully start seeing more spiky friends in and around your neighbourhood soon.
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