Creating Hedgehog Habitat.
As we know, hedgehogs are declining primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation namely hedgerow and grasslands. Also through the use of pesticides used in farming and gardening. Well we can change that by increasing the amount of suitable habitat in the areas we can control.... our gardens!
We have compiled a list of handy tips to create the perfect hedgehog habitat in your garden.
LEAF IT MESSY!
DITCH THE PESTICIDE!
Pesticides are one of the biggest threats to hedgehogs, they are designed to kill the invertebrates, such as beetles, slugs and worms that the hedgehogs like to eat. Slug pellets are particularly toxic and can make hedgehogs very sick by secondary poisoning.
Try more natural methods of pest control or just leave it to the hogs, they do say the hedgehog is a gardeners best friend!
The best habitat for a hedgehog is a messy one! To make your garden more hedgehog friendly leave an area undisturbed. Leaf litter and dead vegetation can be piled up in a quiet corner of the garden preferably near a hedge. Piles of logs also provide habitat for invertebrates that hedgehogs like to eat.
Compost heaps are also a favourite spot, just be careful if turning it over with a pitchfork and check there are no prickly residents in there already!
A hedgehog can travel over a mile in a night looking for food and mates. Help to clear their path by creating holes in your boundary fences and walls. Click here for some examples.
Even better plant a hedge boundary!
KEEP IT TIDY!
Although hedgehogs love messy gardens, it must be kept safe. Garden tools and litter should be cleared away and stored properly. Barbed or chicken wire are very dangerous as they can get entwined and seriously injured by it.
Hedgehogs are fantastic swimmers however often can't get out of a garden pond if they fall in. So if you have a pond, make sure that there is shallow ramp or use old bricks as steps under the water to allow a hedgehog to escape.
Strimming can also be dangerous for a hedgehog, if you are planning on strimming an area of your garden, have a good look first just in case a hedgehog is hiding in the long grass.
Similarly, bonfires create a great habitat for hedgehogs and they will often shelter in them. Have a thorough look and ideally move it completely before lighting.
If you think your garden is now ready for some prickly inhabitants, you can start to encourage them in.
Using hedgehog boxes will provide them with areas to sleep, give birth and raise young or to hibernate. Click here for tips on building your own.
Additional feeding stations with food and water can also encourage them to your garden. If supplementary feeding them, either wet or dry cat or dog food in jelly is the healthiest choice.
Make sure to always provide a dish of clean, fresh water.