It is Hedgehog Awareness Week and these much-loved gardener’s friends with their characteristic spines and beady black eyes need our help.
Hedgehogs are named after the noisy pig-like grunt they make as they root through garden undergrowth in search of their favourite food; beetle larvae, worms, slugs and snails. The best way to spot a hedgehog is to go out into your garden at night and listen. At this time of year they are noisier than ever as the males compete for females.
Here are our top tips to turn your garden into a hedgehog haven. In return your garden will benefit from one of the most efficent pest controllers on the planet.
- Leave Wild Patches
Undisturbed areas can provide food and a safe place to nest and hibernate. Leaf piles and compost heaps offer shelter, warmth, bedding material and attract a tasty snack.
- Avoiding injuries
Please go carefully when turning compost heaps and look out for nesting hedgehogs when strimming overgrown areas.
- Common Hazards
Garden ponds can become death traps for wildlife, so please make sure they have gently sloping sides or an escape route such as a piece of wood leading to safety. Slug pellets are poisonous and as well as eliminating a key prey species for hedgehogs, the poison is passed to hedgehogs and birds when they eat a dead slug; we recommend they should not be used.
- Hedgehog café
A fresh supply of clean water is particularly helpful as the weather warms up. If you want to provide some extra food, a dish of plain non-fishy pet food is usually best. Although many people believe that myth that hedgehogs like bread and milk, they actually make them very sick.
- Make a gap in your fence
Hedgehogs can travel up to a mile at night in search of food and a mate; ten or more different individuals may visit a garden over several nights. A 13cm square gap in the bottom of your fence could really help them move from garden to garden. Talk to your neighbours and encourage them to do the same.
For more information on helping hedgehogs please visit our hedgehog webpage.
We are always pleased to hear about your hedgehog sightings at: sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/sightingsform