Top 5 ways to help hedgehogs this autumn

, 18 October 2021
Top 5 ways to help hedgehogs this autumn
Hugh Clark FRPS

By Charlotte Owen

WildCall Officer

With the nights beginning to draw in hedgehogs are now preparing for hibernation. This means they’ll be busy ensuring they have enough fuel to survive through to the spring.

Here are five ways you can help your local hedgehogs this autumn:

1. Ensure there are holes in fences

Hedgehogs can travel up to 2 km a night foraging for food. Being able to pass easily through gardens will help keep them safe from busy roads and provide access to a wider variety of food sources so they can fatten up ready for the winter months.

2. Avoid using slug pellets

Slugs are one of the main food sources for hedgehogs, so if you kill them off hedgehogs will struggle to survive. If you encourage hedgehogs into your garden they’ll do the hard work for you!

3. Check your bonfires

Bonfire piles are very attractive to nesting hedgehogs, so it's best to build and burn bonfires on the same day to avoid tragedy. If this isn’t possible gently search though the bonfire with a rake or spade before burning to make sure any wildlife can escape, or move the pile before you set it alight.

4. Be aware of common hazards

Garden ponds can be death traps for hedgehogs, so ensure they have gently sloping sides, or a plank of wood leading out of the pond, as a means of escape. Any netting, wiring or string should be kept above ground so hedgehogs can go underneath rather than becoming entangled.

5. Supplementary feeding

Hedgehogs need to fatten up ready to hibernate through the winter and will appreciate a bowl of meaty cat or dog food, either wet or dry, and a drink of fresh water to wash it down. You can create a feeding station by cutting a small hole in a plastic storage box and weighing the lid down with a brick, to stop cats and foxes taking it. Never feed bread or milk as these cause an upset stomach.

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Leave a comment


  • Roz:

    I found a hedgehog in the front garden nesting under a pile of leaves between the wall and a fern. I have been feeding with semi moist spikes dinner hedgehog food every day and there is a plentiful supply of slugs! Will this be sufficient protection for winter hibernation or do I need to do more to protect the nest?

    15 Sep 2018 13:44:00

  • Ann Pendry:

    We have covered our pile of logs/twigs/leaves/moss’s with a piece of tarpaulin to keep out the rain. Your hog may move into a more weatherproof hibernation nest any way.

    17 Sep 2018 17:09:00

  • Kay maplethorpe:

    I feed about 6 hedgehogs a night
    My friend has built a hedgehog house for them hope they use it

    17 Sep 2018 19:36:00

  • Kay maplethorpe:

    I feed about 6 hedgehogs a night
    My friend has built a hedgehog house for them hope they use it

    17 Sep 2018 19:37:00

  • frances elworthy:

    when do l stop leaving food out

    17 Sep 2018 21:09:00

  • Our advice is to offer hedgehog food, meaty cat or dog food, cat biscuits and water for hedgehogs up until they hibernate if you are supplementary feeding

    18 Sep 2018 16:08:22

  • Christina Budd:

    Ifeed hedgehogs at night with dried mealworm and cat food every night, a house has been made for them I hope they use it

    19 Sep 2018 18:11:00

  • Rosamund Carpenter:

    I have been feeding the hedgehogs from first sightings I the Spring…I feed them with special dry hedgehog food mixed with sunflower seeds, sultanas and bananas..Also Apple’s ..All chopped up small…..Too many cats around to use cat or dog food, though it would be much cheaper…I also have two igloo type hedgehog houses and also secure old files against walls and fill them with leaves….Would be grateful for any further tips..Thank you .

    19 Sep 2018 19:31:00

  • Janet fowle:

    How do I know if I have hedgehogs in my garden

    20 Sep 2018 12:54:00

  • Dave:

    I have the perfect access for a hedgehog into my garden if I make a hole in the fence between me and the the rough ground adjoining. My concern is that it makes it easier for rats to get in. Am I worrying unnecessarily?

    22 Sep 2018 20:27:00

  • Maureen:

    How can I build a house and what with for the hedgehogs?

    23 Sep 2018 15:44:00

  • Ros Carpenter:

    One of my hogs is quite small…As I mentioned earlier…I put food out every night and there is also a small pond and other low water containers..I hope the small one will survive…

    23 Sep 2018 18:45:00

  • Alicia Hattersley:

    My hedgehogs stopped eating the food I put out when the hot weather relented, it rained and slugs came back (food was left in bowl in the am) should I start again?

    24 Sep 2018 20:08:00

  • Richard Oels:

    I didn’t quite follow your description of the plastic box modification for feeding hedgehogs. How small a hole will keep cats or foxes out. I have both visiting my garden. Is it possible for you to send a picture of a box in action? Thank you

    27 Sep 2018 11:33:00

  • Janice Bird:

    I would also appreciate a picture and exact dimensions particularly of the hole for the plastic box (feeding station )
    Many thanks

    27 Sep 2018 17:52:00

  • Amanda Burton:

    I have just stared feeding a hedgehog 🦔 in my front garden I live in a close. I would like to get a little house for him… or her to be fair, I’ve only really got pots out the front no real shrubs to speak of but I was thinking of planting out my azalea and making a flower bed would this be suitable for the little hedgehog house!! Any suggestions?

    27 Sep 2018 21:14:00

  • Mike Attwood:

    I am a wildlife photographer and have been entertaining hedgehogs in my garden for quite a few years. I rarely put enough food out for a complete meal but just enough to keep them happy. They come every night including Xmas and they are happy to share my garden with the foxes. A month ago the woman next door strimmed the grass in her garden and killed acouple and drove the rest away. I now have just one visiting occasionally. So beware of strimmers.

    27 Sep 2018 22:31:00

  • Billy Bond:

    How big a hole? My neighbour has a terrior and its their fence anyway. I have a cat that enjoys hunting, are hogs safe?

    28 Sep 2018 07:28:00

  • Celia Cadwallader:

    I know I have badgers, foxes, grey squirrels, mice and possibly rats are visiting my garden: how do I know that I have hegehogs? I would love to encourage hedgehogs but I’m concerned that putting out food will just help B’s and R’s, etc (I don’t mind woodmice getting some)

    28 Sep 2018 17:12:00

  • Pamela Taylor:

    We have a hedgehog in our garden and he or she has been there a few nights as our daughter has seen it.

    28 Sep 2018 20:34:00

  • We have added another blog about how to build a hedgehog house here: Create a hedgehog house

    30 Sep 2018 09:17:00

  • Thank you for your comments, we have posted another blog about how to create a hedgehog feeding station here: Create a hedgehog feeding station

    30 Sep 2018 09:21:00

  • valerie zytynski:

    Several people have asked how they might know if there are hedgehogs in their gardens. I’d like to know as well!Any chance you could give us some clues? I would definitely put food out /build shelters etc if I thought there were hedgehogs around.

    30 Sep 2018 19:01:00

  • @Valerie – signs to look out for are poo: hedgehog dropings is are about 5 cm long, cylindrical and generally quite dark. They might be filled with bits of insects and worms. You may also notice disturbed leaf litter, if you have a hedgehog house place a leaf over the entrance, if it gets moves you could have a resident. Finally, strange noises at night, hedgehogs will grunt and make strange, loud late night sound , esp in early summer.

    30 Sep 2018 19:30:54

  • Tracy Knight:

    PLEASE – Don’t feed MEALWORMS to Hedgehogs.
    The high phosphate levels in these worms are sapping hedgehogs of calcium and reducing the strength of their bones. Causing metabolic Bone Disease. They should not be feed to hedgehogs, instead just feed Meaty Cat Food and Cat Biscuits.

    01 Oct 2018 09:00:00

  • Christina Budd:

    When do hogs hibernate?

    17 Oct 2018 16:55:00

  • Val:

    How do l look after a autumn hedgehog

    17 Oct 2018 21:56:00

  • @Christina – hedgehogs usually enter hibernation by the end of November but it does depend on the weather – they’ll stay active for as long as it’s mild enough, if there’s enough food to be found.

    @Val – best to contact a local wildlife rescue for advice, there’s a list on our website here:

    25 Oct 2018 10:40:22

  • Wendy:

    I am trying to entice hedgehogs into my garden, but I dare not feed them as recommended because if I leave any sort of food out I suddenly find healthy, sleek rats darting around in the garden. Its bad enough with them eating windfall apples of which there are so many at present.
    Would you have any solution?

    ANSWER: You can try a couple of things to minimise Rats. Feed your Hedgehogs in the open, as Rats prefer a bit of cover. Also Rats don’t tend to like cat food as much as some of the dry hedgehog foods. Try feeding later, The less time the hedgehog food is out there the less chance it has of attracting rats. Only put out as much food as the Hedgehog needs and clear up any excess food quickly.

    21 Oct 2021 10:50:00

  • Vanessa Hancock:

    I came across a small hedgehog walking up the grass verge on a busy road yesterday afternoon. I took it to Coastway vets & they will keep it & feed it over winter . Keep up the good work Coastway 🦔

    21 Oct 2021 13:38:00

  • Kevin Taylor:

    Haven’t seen any hedgehogs in the two years I’ve lived here is there any way they can be introduced into any specific area?

    21 Oct 2021 16:10:00

  • Sheila Powell:

    My understanding is hedgehogs only eat slugs if they are starving. Slugs often give hogs lungworm and should not be encouraged as a food. Dry kitten biscuits and water more useful.

    21 Oct 2021 21:04:00

  • Tony Wetjen:

    I leave a light scattering of gravel on our concrete drive adjacent to the hedgehog door in our fence. If the gravel is displaced I can be reasonably confident that a hedgehog has been in or out that night. The other way of knowing whether or not you have hedgehogs visiting your garden is to look out for signs of their droppings!

    23 Oct 2021 11:15:00

  • Janet Spooner:

    We have been feeding hedgehogs for years now and for the last few years there is hardly a night that goes by, even in the depths of winter, where we don’t have any. At least one or two hogs will be here feeding, even on a very cold night. On the infra red camera it is interesting that you can identify different hogs due to some sort of pattern on their spines.. not visible under dusk conditions. I must add, that although you suggest putting a brick on a plastic feeding station to stop foxes.. when one visits here it doesn’t matter how much weight you put on the top of the box, or how much is weighted at ground level, this fox just destroys it all.. looks like a battle has taken place next morning!!

    23 Oct 2021 13:35:00

  • Jill Hobbs:

    Re. a previous comment about whether hogs are safe with other animals, I have trailcam evidence of a large hedgehog in my garden for quite some time, happily ignoring – and being ignored by – a cat and a fox at different times.

    26 Oct 2021 09:16:00

  • susan kirkwood:

    I have been reading some of the comments and I am alarmed to read that someone is feeding sunflower seeds, sultanas, bananas and apple……
    These are a definite no no for hedgehogs…..they cannot digest these things are they are very bad for them, as are mealworms which cause metabolic bone disease…

    28 Oct 2021 13:48:00