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12 Ways To Welcome Hedgehogs Into Your Garden
I don't think there is a single person out there who thinks that hedgehogs aren't adorable, but unfortunately there are only estimated to be around 1 million of these cute little critters left in the UK. But never fear, you can do your part to ensure that hedgehogs don't go extinct. These beautiful mammals rely on our gardens to offer them food and shelter, but with more and more homes putting up fences around their gardens,they are not able to come and go like they used to. Our simple tips below will teach you how to look out for your quilled friends and keep them staying safe throughout the year.
1. Let Them In!
First things first. Hedgehogs need an accessible way into your garden, so create a hole of at least 13cm x 13cm in your garden fence. Try and team up with your neighbours and connect your gardens with an easy path for all your local hedgehogs. Don't forget to post a picture on www.hedgehogstreet.org.
2. Set Up A Hedgehog Hideout
Hedgehogs generally hibernate between November and mid March, so why not give them a place to stay safe and in comfort. Creating a home for the hedgehogs in your area could be a fun project for adults and children alike, but if you aren't the D.I.Y type,there are plenty of products online which you are able to buy.
3. Cover Drains & Holes
Hedgehogs are not climbers, so if they get down a hole, then chances are they are there to stay, and if there are any hazardous chemicals down there, this could have a detrimental effect. The last thing you want to do is trap a hedgehog, so make sure you cover up any holes and drains which are in your garden.
4. Let Your Garden Grow
If you leave a part of your garden to overgrow, this can create an excellent area for nesting and hibernation for hedgehogs. It also encourages more insects into your garden which means more food for them too.
5. Plant some hedges or bushes
Where do you think hedgehogs got their name? Well 'hog', is from their pig like snout, and the fact that they grunt like a pig, and of course 'hedge' comes from the fact that they spend a lot of their time frequenting hedges as it's a good place to hide and nest. So Plant some hedges to give them a great place to hibernate.
6. Log Piles & Compost Heaps
By now, you've probably noticed that hedgehogs like messy gardens. Anywhere which can provide a hiding spot, nesting or food is sure to be a winner, including log piles, compost heaps and piles of leaves. You may think they look unsightly, but they are the perfect place for hedgehogs and other wildlife. Just be careful when raking and disturbing the areas. You don't want to accidently harm these cute little critters.
7. Clean Up!
Hedgehogs may like a messy garden, but they do not like an unsafe one and can easily get trapped, so please, please, please make sure that you do not leave any netting lying about, or any other litter which could trap them. It will cause them huge discomfort, and if not discovered early on, could kill them.
8. Never Use Slug Pellets or Pesticides!
Slug Pellets and Pesticides are obviously used to deter and get rid of insects from your beautiful garden, but hedgehogs are a natural way to do this! Unfortunately, if you use pesticides, not only will it poison the slugs and insects, but it will also poison animals which eat them, including hedgehogs. So just let nature do its thing and those slugs will be a thing of the past!
9. Scan Before You Strim
A hedgehogs natural defense mechanism is to curl up in a ball to protect against predators. Unfortunately, it does not protect against big pieces of machinery such as strimmers and lawn mowers, so make sure you scan the area before cutting your grass.
Surprisingly, hedgehogs are actually good swimmers and giving them a pond to swim in, as well at a source of water is a lovely little extra for local wildlife. Just make sure there is a way for them to get in and out using rocks or a small ramp.
11. Leave Out Food and water
Hedgehogs are able to eat meat based pet food including cat and dog biscuits. It is best to feed them the food which comes in jelly rather than gravy and avoid fish based foods. Or you can go to your local pet shop and pick up some food specifically for hedgehogs.
12. Avoid Certain Foods
It can be tempting to leave out bread and milk for your little quilled friends, but hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, so you need to make sure that you never leave out milk for them, because it can make them very sick. Bread is difficult for them to digest and mealworms have too much protein for these little mammals, so make sure to avoid feeding them these foods.
Hopefully we've given you an idea of where to start when it comes to introducing hedgehogs into your garden. Send us pictures of how you've transformed your garden into a hedgehog haven, and if you'd like to catch sightings of them, set up a night vision camera in your garden, so you can meet your visitors.