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Hedgehogs

Did you know that as many as 10 different hedgehogs may visit a garden over several nights? This could mean ‘your hedgehog’ is a number of different individuals visiting at different times! As it is Hedgehog Awareness week, we thought we would share some top tips from the National RSPCA on making your garden hog friendly and some information on what to do if you find a hedgehog out and about.

If the hedgehog is hibernating, gently replace the animal into the space, re-cover with old nest material and leave alone. If this is not possible then place the hedgehog in a large box or in a part of the garden the hedgehog will be safe and sheltered. Make sure the hedgehog can get out of the box easily.

If the hedgehog is not hibernating and has young hoglets, recover them and leave them alone. If this is not possible, please call the National RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 for advice.

If the weather is not cold and the hedgehog seems healthy, it should be left alone. Provide food and water and monitor the situation. If it does not seem interested in the food, call the National RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

If the weather is cold (frost, snow or below freezing) or the hedgehog is staggering, circling or obviously sick or injured then please call the National RSPCA.

If you found a hedgehog that is clearly sick or injured, or an orphaned hoglet that weighs less than 300g, please call the National RSPCA‟s cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999.

Supplementing a hedgehog‟s natural diet by leaving out food is a great way to help hedgehogs in your area. Hedgehogs will love tinned dog or cat food
and crushed dog or cat biscuits (not fishbased). Hedgehog food is also highly
recommended and often available from suppliers of wild bird food.

Never feed hedgehog’s bread and/or milk! Cow‟s milk can cause diarrhoea and bread is very low in nutrients. Leave a shallow dish of fresh clean water every day. Clean the dish outside (not in the kitchen) every day with hot soapy water and rinse well.

Cats do not normally pose a problem as they usually leave hedgehogs alone after initial investigation.

Dogs can attack hedgehogs, though they will rarely succeed in getting through their spines unless the hedgehog is sick or young. Try to keep dogs away from hedgehogs and monitor or keep your dog on a lead in the garden at dusk or night when you know the hedgehogs will be out. You can also „warn‟ any hedgehog before you come outside by turning a light on. Owners may worry about “hedgehog fleas” being passed to their pets; however they cannot survive on any species but hedgehogs

Keeping your garden Hedgehog friendly

  • Gardening: Leave „wild‟, insect-friendly areas in your garden to encourage invertebrates for hedgehogs to eat and provide shelter for the hedgehogs themselves. Check carefully for animals before moving or strimming your lawn and take care when turning over compost or leaf piles with
    a spade or pitch fork.
  • Log, compost or leaf piles: Provide shelter for nesting mothers, young hoglets and hibernating hedgehogs, plus as havens for invertebrates they provide an all-year food supply.
  • Ponds: Provide a natural source of water and attract invertebrates for hedgehogs to eat. Make sure you slope the edges of the pond or use stones to create ‟steps‟ so that hedgehogs can climb out if they fall in!
  • Bonfires: Always thoroughly disturb bonfires before lighting, as there could be hedgehogs nesting or hiding inside.
  • Netting: Make sure that if you do have any netting in your garden that you ensure it is well above ground level as hedgehogs can easily become caught in netting or wire. Pack away or roll up fruit nets, tennis and goal nets or similar when not in use. The RSPCA recommends replacing any netting in your garden with solid metal mesh.
  • Drains and holes: Hedgehogs can easily fall into uncovered drains or holes in your garden. Cover holes or check them every day to ensure no hedgehogs have become trapped.
  • Litter: Litter is a big problem for all wild animals as they can become trapped, injured or choke; make sure your garden is clear of all litter.
  • Chemicals: Slug pellets can poison hedgehogs and should be used only as a last resort. Instead try using one of many „natural‟ alternatives, like crushed eggshells or coffee grounds. Wood preservatives can be ingested by hedgehogs and should be replaced with a wildlifefriendly water-based alternative. Pesticides will reduce the prey available to a hedgehog and should be used sparingly or not at all.
  • Sheds: Don’t close your shed doors if you usually keep them open, there may be hedgehogs nesting there. Make sure any dangerous chemicals or tools are kept well off the ground. Don‟t dismantle your shed around
    October time as hoglets may be nesting underneath the floor.
Emma MillsHedgehogs