Our gardens, as wonderful as they are, can sometimes be scary environments for those small and spikey! From time-to-time hedgehogs will enter your garden and you may be wondering how best you can help them, and if you should.
How will I know if a hedgehog is visiting me?
Healthy hedgehogs are nocturnal animals so shouldn’t be out
in the daytime, so if you do see one it is very likely in trouble. Female hedgehogs
may venture out in the daylight to gather nest material if they are expectant
or a new mum, and they are the only real exception to the rule. If the hedgehog
appears injured, dizzy, confused or tired then it may be in a spot of bother. You
can find out what to do if you find a hedgehog in this state below. If you
can’t physically see the hedgehog then there are other signs you should look
out for such as footprints, droppings, disturbed leaves or noises. Footprints
are more easily detected on frosty grass or soil with 4 or 5 tiny toes visible.
Hedgehog droppings are similar to that of cats, but will be slightly darker in
appearance. At times, hedgehogs can be quite the noisy neighbours! Their noises
can range from snuffles to squeaks to even loud screaming, so if you listen out
you may realise you have an unexpected visitor!
What should I do if I find an injured hedgehog?
You should call a hedgehog rescue if you come across an
injured hedgehog and they will give you the best advice on how to care for the
hedgehog until you can get it safely to them. Do not take any action until they
have advised you on what to do.
How else can I make my garden hedgehog friendly?
Always check areas before mowing
If your grass has grown particularly long there may be hedgehogs using it to hide in. Before mowing, always make sure to give your grass the onceover to check that there are no current inhibitors playing hide and seek amongst it.
Make a hedgehog highway
Hedgehogs will travel far and wide (up to 2km a night!) to find food and sanctuary, that’s a lot of ground to cover so making it as easy as possible for them to pass from garden to garden by creating a hedgehog highway will really help! The easiest way to do this is by cutting a 13 x 13cm tunnel hole out of your fencing big enough to allow the hedgehog to pass through (and small enough for no one else to follow them!) – Hedgehog Street has a great guide on how best to do this.
Leave out fresh water
Our gardens may get a lot of rain in the UK, but we don’t often have objects lying about to gather this meaning wildlife can go thirsty. Leaving out a shallow dish of fresh water (shallow enough that if the hedgehog fell in, they could easily escape) will be hugely beneficial for parched hedgehogs, especially in hot weather.
Leave out food
There is a lot of misinformation about what you should feed a hedgehog, but according to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society meaty dog food or dry cat biscuits is best. These are inexpensive to buy and can go a long way to helping a little hungry hedgehog.
Save your leaves
Lots of leaves on your lawn can be a bit of a pain and disposing of them all just as tasking! However, if you have a spot in your garden where you could keep them they make excellent habitats for hedgehogs.
Let your lawn grow long / create a meadow
Due to recent trends of hard landscaping, there often isn't anywhere for hedgehogs to stay safe in modern gardens causing them to be vulnerable to predators and the open elements. By allowing part of your lawn to grow long or by sowing a wildflower meadow in a bed or border, you can offer a sanctuary to hedgehogs and other wildlife.