The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) have together produced a free guide of 10 tips to make your gardens hedgehog-friendly this autumn and help this small British mammal in decline. Their top tips: check your bonfires and make your gardens accessible!
Gardens and urban green spaces provide a vital habitat for hedgehogs to live in, but their numbers have fallen by more than a third over the last 10 years. By making your garden more hedgehog-friendly this autumn you will be helping animals prepare for hibernation, a critical time for any hedgehog. The ten tips offer advice and easy practical tasks for all the family to get involved in, whether green-fingered or not, for example:
Bonfires – With Halloween and bonfire night just around the corner it is more important than ever to check your bonfires before lighting them. Piles of debris are irresistible to a hedgehog looking for somewhere to hibernate or nest. Build your bonfire on the day you plan to burn it, or move the pile on the day of burning to avoid a tragic end.
Link your gardens – Hedgehogs roam between 1-2km each night in search of food, shelter and potential mates. They can also change nesting sites more than once during their hibernation period. It’s therefore critical that they can access a wide range of gardens and placing a 13cm x 13cm hole in your garden walls or fences will let hedgehogs through, but be too small for most pets. Once you’ve made a hole in your fence you can add it to the national map on the Hedgehog Street website.
Food and water – Hedgehogs really benefit from extra food, using it as a supplement to their natural diet. Meaty cat or dog food, hedgehog food, meal worms and chopped, unsalted peanuts are all suitable. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant and should only be given water to drink.
Fay Vass, CEO of BHPS adds, “Hedgehogs will be roaming regularly at night at this time of year, and to them, bonfire piles appear to be a perfect source of shelter. We would therefore urge anyone who is planning to have a bonfire during the autumn months to check very carefully for hedgehog activity and to move their piles before lighting them to avoid casualties.”
Henry Johnson, Hedgehog Officer at PTES says: “In autumn months hedgehogs will be foraging for food to store up their fat reserves and seeking out suitable shelter in preparation for hibernation. This coincides with a generally busy time in the gardening calendar so it would be great if people can spare a thought for hedgehogs while they are pruning and mulching. Making log piles and storing leaf litter in a quiet corner of the garden creates natural nesting and feeding sites for them – and it’s so easy to do.”
To download your free copy of ‘10 tips for encouraging hedgehogs in your neighbourhood’ and to find out more about other ways in which you can help them visit www.hedgehogstreet.org
photo credit Stephen Heliczer