Top 5 ways to help hedgehogs this autumn

01 November 2020 | Posted in Wildlife Garden , Charlotte Owen
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.

Help protect our hedgehogs by becoming a Sussex Wildlife Trust member

Wildcall logo banner


  • Roz:

    15 Sep 2018 13:44:00

    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?

  • Ann Pendry:

    17 Sep 2018 17:09:00

    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.

  • Kay maplethorpe:

    17 Sep 2018 19:36:00

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

  • Kay maplethorpe:

    17 Sep 2018 19:37:00

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

  • frances elworthy:

    17 Sep 2018 21:09:00

    when do l stop leaving food out

  • 18 Sep 2018 16:08:22

    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

  • Christina Budd:

    19 Sep 2018 18:11:00

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

  • Rosamund Carpenter:

    19 Sep 2018 19:31:00

    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 .

  • Janet fowle:

    20 Sep 2018 12:54:00

    How do I know if I have hedgehogs in my garden

  • Dave:

    22 Sep 2018 20:27:00

    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?

  • Maureen:

    23 Sep 2018 15:44:00

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

  • Ros Carpenter:

    23 Sep 2018 18:45:00

    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…

  • Alicia Hattersley:

    24 Sep 2018 20:08:00

    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?

  • Richard Oels:

    27 Sep 2018 11:33:00

    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

  • Janice Bird:

    27 Sep 2018 17:52:00

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

  • Amanda Burton:

    27 Sep 2018 21:14:00

    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?

  • Mike Attwood:

    27 Sep 2018 22:31:00

    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.

  • Billy Bond:

    28 Sep 2018 07:28:00

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

  • Celia Cadwallader:

    28 Sep 2018 17:12:00

    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)

  • Pamela Taylor:

    28 Sep 2018 20:34:00

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

  • 30 Sep 2018 09:17:00

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

  • 30 Sep 2018 09:21:00

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

  • valerie zytynski:

    30 Sep 2018 19:01:00

    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 19:30:54

    @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.

  • Tracy Knight:

    01 Oct 2018 09:00:00

    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.

  • Christina Budd:

    17 Oct 2018 16:55:00

    When do hogs hibernate?

  • Val:

    17 Oct 2018 21:56:00

    How do l look after a autumn hedgehog

  • 25 Oct 2018 10:40:22

    @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:

Leave a comment