In 2013, BBC Wildlife Magazine’s winner of the poll to choose a national species for Britain was… the hedgehog; pipping the badger into second place, with the oak tree third, it picked up 42 per cent of the 9,108 votes cast.
Hedgehogs have been in decline in recent years and the reasons for this are not clear. As a result of their decline they have been included in the list of ‘priority British species’, updated in 2007. Hedgehogs also have partial protection from being killed, under Schedule 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and under Schedule III of the Bern Convention.
If you want to buy or build an ‘attractive’ garden residence for hedgehogs, then I have some suggestions at:
- Provide some safe, dry, ‘untidy’ places in your garden for them to hibernate.
- If you build any bonfire, check it for hedgehogs before you light it.
- In dry safe place, put down a little saucer of water and on a separate saucer, put a few teaspoons of beef dogfood, uncooked mince or hedgehog dry food each evening at dusk. Other foods they like include slugs, worms, beetles, caterpillars or any small invertebrates, raisins, cooked potatoes and chopped fruit.
- Try to keep dogs and cats away from hedgehog food areas and nesting sites.
- If you find an underweight hedgehog or a hedgehog out in the daytime at this time of year, it’s in trouble and may not survive the winter unless you help it.
- Hedgehogs can and do swim, but if they fall in to your pond or pool and it has steep sides, they will drown. So, put a piece of chicken wire shallowly angled so that hedgehogs can use it to climb out of the pond or make sure your pond has at least one sloping side.
- NEVER put out milk for hedgehogs; they are LACTOSE INTOLERANT and you could kill them.
- They don’t really like bread either.
- Don’t use slug pellets in the garden; attract hedgehogs and they will eat up all your slugs and other pests.
- Don’t use strimmers and mowers on long grass without checking first for hedgehogs.
- If you have steep-sided ponds or pools, create a hedgehog escape system, should they fall in (see above).
BRITISH HEDGEHOG PRESERVATION SOCIETY
The New Hedgehog Book by Pat Morris