Hi, I’m Nic
Today I am writing about how to attract hedgehogs to your garden (not rhinos)
Like you, I was upset by David Attenborough’s recent documentary ‘Extinction: The Facts’. I felt powerless watching the plight of animals like the rhino facing extinction, and it is difficult to see how you can do anything that’s going to make any difference.
But the good news is you can! And in your very own garden or outdoor space!
Yes, we cannot hope to have rhinos in our gardens, (can you imagine??) but we do have the chance to attract plenty of local wildlife. And this is now equally important. The 2019 State of Nature report by the RSPB showed that many of our beloved british wildlife species are struggling for survival…but with the power of our gardens we can turn this around!
Did you know gardens in the UK*, cover an area bigger than one fifth the size of Wales? Now imagine if we ALL had some kind of wildlife friendly space in our gardens – what a boost to wildlife that would be!
One endangered animal that the British love is the hedgehog. Hedgehogs are the gardeners friend as they enjoy eating slugs and snails! Unfortunately, due to many threats from development, busy roads, cattle grids, inescapable ponds and drains, pesticides (including slug pellets) and people tidying their gardens (too much) and mending fences, hedgehogs have struggled for years and numbers are now rapidly decreasing. In fact, rural hedgehog numbers are down by 50%. This is sad news for fans of Miss Tiggy Winkle and Toy Story’s Mr Prickle Pants or even Sonic – but we can all do something to help!
From leaving a corner of our garden wild, to making friends with the neighbours (and making a small hole in the bottom of fences), we can all join together to create much needed wildlife corridors – or a hedgehog highway. Did you know hedgehogs can travel up to 1-2 kms a night visiting gardens, looking for love (!) and foraging for food?
Now it’s autumn hedgehogs will soon start hibernating – they need safe places to hide. Bonfire piles are a classic and most of us are now used to checking them before lighting them; but very often hogs will hide in undergrowth and at the bottom of hedges (hence the name). One of the most common injuries for hedgehogs coming into Prickles and Paws Hedgehog Rescue Centre are strimming injuries which is really sad and quite heart-wrenching to see.
Here are some tips for helping our spiky friends in your garden:
- Make a 13 x 13cm (5 x 5”) holes in walls or fences – this will let hedgehogs through but will be too small for most pets
- Make your pond safe by putting in but a pile of stones, a piece of wood or some chicken wire to create a simple ramp. Also remember to cover your drains
- Leave a corner of your garden wild in winter and hedgehogs might nest there. They’ll also benefit from the abundant insects.
- Make sure you carefully tidy away any netting (fruit netting or sports equipment) that is in the garden as hedgehogs are prone to getting tangled. This also applied to any litter please!
- Meaty pet food can be put out. But please not milk! Hedgehogs are carnivores so ONLY eat meat. Water is the only thing you should give them to drink and it can be scarce at certain times of year
- Pesticides, insecticides and slug pellets are toxic and reduce hedgehog prey. They are all unnecessary in a healthy, well managed garden.
- Check your garden before you strim or mow to avoid causing horrific injuries or death. Single hedgehogs are easily moved, but use gloves! Moving a hedgehog family is more complicated and ideally they should be left undisturbed – call Prickles and Paws on the numbers below for help.
- Bonfires! If you must have one, build it on the day of burning or move the pile on the day of burning to avoid a tragic end.
- A log pile encourages all kinds of wildlife – and is easy to make. It will attract insects and provide nesting opportunities all year around. Alternatively, you can make your own DIY hedgehog house or buy one on-line – and they really do work! (especially if placed near a hedge or other margin)
- If you see hedgehogs out in the daytime they are probably poorly – occasionally mothers may be out nest building but it is unusual and if they are babies (hoglets) on their own then they will need help. Signs that hedgehogs might need help are: lethargy, wobbling, injuries, squawking and/or fleas (by the way these fleas can only live on hedgehogs – they cannot live on dogs or cats!). Many hedgehogs are struggling to survive and their reduced habitat means they are often underweight – they will require extra help so do contact the experts
If you do see a hedgehog that needs help then use gardening gloves to very gently put it in a high sided box, cover it with a towel and place food and water on jam jar lids. Once the hog is safe, call local Cornish hedgehog experts Prickles and Paws Hedgehog Rescue Centre on 01637831299 or 07926576164 as time can be critical for seriously ill hogs.
I hope you enjoy making your garden hedgehog friendly and if you live in Treverbyn Parish then do contact us on 01726 858657 as we are going to be running the second phase of our Habitat Creation scheme and will be giving away 25 hedgehog houses to help us map wildlife corridors in the local area!
Nichola Andersen, Habitat Creation Manager, Treverbyn Hall [email protected]
British Hedgehog Preservation https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/
Hedgehog Hugh; https://vimeo.com/413318476