A guide to helping hedgehogs

Encourage hedgehogs into your garden – make sure they have easy access, a hole 13cm x 13cm in a fence or gate will be suitable. Keep a corner of your garden wild to offer shelter, protection and their natural food. Please don’t move one in from another area as they may have young which are dependent on them who may not be able to survive without them.

Food and water – leave a shallow bowl of water (or several!) in your garden, not just for the hedgehogs but for all garden visitors. All year round is best but it’s especially important during dry spells when natural water sources are scarce. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, please don’t leave out milk. They love kitten biscuits as long as the biscuits don’t contain milk. Hedgehogs also like wet cat and dog food, the meaty flavours not fish, white meat is best. A feeding station is a welcome addition so they have somewhere safe and dry to eat.

Provide a roof over their heads – you can buy or make a hedgehog house. This can provide a place for hibernation over winter, a nesting place for a mother and her young or simply a napping place inbetween feeding sessions. Please do not clean if a hog is in residence, you may scare them off!

Ponds – hedgehogs like to swim, they are actually rather good swimmers but can become trapped in garden ponds. If you have a pond please have exit points for any hedgehogs, this can be a rough surfaced ramp or a brick placed in a shallow end of a pond, they are good climbers but sometimes need a helping hand. Ponds encourage frogs which also eat slugs, another natural solution to pest control.

Garden dangers – check before you cut! Hedgehogs may be sleeping in long grass under hedges and bushes. It’s best to check areas under hedges and bushed thoroughly before cutting/strimming grass. Do not use pesticides or slug pellets, they are dangerous to hedgehogs and also damage their food chain. Hedgehogs eat slugs, they are a gardeners friend, let’s not poison their food.

Football nets and nets for fruit and vegetables to climb up are great for people but hedgehogs can get caught in them. Please raise football nets when not in use and start fruit/veg netting around 25cm from the ground so hedgehogs can pass safely underneath.

Common dangers – please dispose of litter responsibly, hedgehogs can become trapped or injured which can lead to life changing injuries and even death. Piles of wood are a dream to hedgehogs, they offer their natural food and shelter. Please remember that your bonfire is very appealing to hedgehogs so move any piles of wood before lighting.

Hedgehogs get stuck in holes, these can be household drains or cattle grids. Please keep smaller holes such as drains covered and provide a rough surfaced ramp for larger holes such as cattle grids. If the holes can’t be covered please consider using a barrier to prevent the hedgehog from falling in and becoming trapped.

Please take care on the roads. Hedgehogs cross roads without checking both ways, they will walk out in front of a vehicle then roll up into a ball in defence rather than run away. This can lead to quite nasty injuries, even death, for a hedgehog that gets hit by a car.