Are you planning to create a hedgehog-friendly garden? If so, then this post is for you as it includes all the guidelines that you need to follow.
Before we share all the tips, here is a little introduction about the charismatic creature. So what are hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs are short and stout little mammals famous for their spikey spines and unique characteristics. The spikes help them to stay safe from predators as they curl into a ball anticipating danger. They also sleep in this curled position during the day and wake up when they need food.
Since hedgehogs play a great role in providing ecological pest control in our gardens, they are welcomed by many gardeners in the UK. However, not every garden is hedgehog friendly because there could be too many hazards or obstacles without the knowledge of the gardeners.
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Grow New Plants
Hedgehogs need good coverage in the garden for shelter and security. Most modern gardens lack cover and that creates problems for hedgehogs. Given their busy lifestyle, many gardeners don’t get enough time to practice their daily garden duties. To make your garden hedgehog friendly, you need to grow more plants.
We have written a thorough article on gardening tips for beginners which will allow you to know the basics of gardening.
So what plants do they need?
Hedgehogs prefer small shrubs and native plants. These are the best options to grow. Other recommended garden plants are Ivy, Goat Willow, Winter Flowering Clematis, Christmas Box, Snowdrops and Aconites.
Grow More Grass
Besides planting new trees for the hedgehogs, you also need to grow more grass in the garden because hedgehogs prefer low-growing dense vegetation. Some of the grass will be used by the hedgehogs in their homes for making a nest. Moreover, the uncut wildflowers from the long grass such as wild marjoram, tease, mallow and scabious will provide easy access to worms and other creatures, making your garden rich in species. Ornamental grasses can be another option as they will also attract hedgehogs in the garden.
Create a Home for Hedgehog
Hedgehogs live in burrows and nests that they make for themselves. They use grass, branches, leaf piles and other vegetation to build the houses. Sometimes, hedgehogs also find burrows that are left over by other animals. But can you make a hedgehog home in your garden to provide them better shelter?
Yes, you can make nesting boxes by using concrete or brickwork. You can make a hedgehog house look like natural burrows. You can consider buying hedgehog homes that are available in different shapes and sizes.
Ensure Easy Access and Hibernation
To hunt for food and locate others, hedgehogs roam a wide distance every night. Hedgehogs usually have a territory of 20 square hectares, which should be available in your garden. Now, are you wondering how that’s possible when your garden has walls and fences?
Well, you can still manage to give access by cutting a hedgehog hole of 130mm diameter at the bottom of your garden wall or fence. However, make sure you have done it in each garden boundary.
The main reason for providing proper shelter to hedgehogs in your garden is not limited to their active season but also for the hibernation season. Hibernating hedgehogs should be provided proper shelter to survive throughout the year. Hence, you need to build hibernacula in the garden with dense leaf piles and other vegetation. Make the bottom cosy using some soft bedding material. Then, you can top the hibernacula with twigs, soil and branches to ensure they are fully covered.
Ensure Drinking Water
Just like any other animal, hedgehogs need clean and fresh water for drinking. So, the best way you can make your garden hedgehog friendly is by providing regular drinking water to the hedgehogs. Hedgehogs can remember the drinking spots in their territory and will surely be attracted to live in your garden. You can fill containers with a generous amount of water every day and change them the next day. However, make sure you do not use a container where the hedgehogs can get stuck inside.
Provide Feeding Stations
Food availability is perhaps the biggest challenge for hedgehogs. Usually, hedgehogs eat slugs, snails, worms and other insects in wild environments. If your garden has a less amount of these creatures, the hedgehogs might find it difficult to hunt food. Don’t worry though! You can still manage it by creating a hedgehog feeding station in a safe location.
When it comes to providing food, you can consider supplementary food. Dog biscuits and cat food excluding fish are the favourites of hedgehogs. You can also plan to feed insects in the garden so that the food chain is maintained. However, make sure you give a year-round food supply to the hedgehogs.
Create a Compost Heap
You can produce organic composts by recycling garden material. But are you wondering how compost heaps can help you attract hedgehogs in the garden? Well, when you decompose your garden material, it attracts slugs, snails and insects, which are the most favourite foods of hedgehogs. Some of the larger compost heaps will also become the shelter for hedgehog hibernation.
Not sure how to make a compost heap? Follow our guide which covers this in detail.
Build a Pond
Unfortunately, the hedgehog population is declining in the UK and the hedgehog numbers are already down by half. It could be because of a significant lack of wildlife and water bodies. So, if you are thinking of making your garden hedgehog friendly, one of the best tasks will be building a pond. It will not only provide drinking water to the hedgehogs but also ensure extra food sources for them.
Hedgehogs are more attracted to the wildlife garden and so you need to let your garden grow wild to make it hedgehog friendly. Activities like planting new trees, growing more grass and building a pond will make your garden wildlife-friendly. You can also include other wildlife habitats to let your garden grow wild.
Almost every garden has some amount of hazards that create a problem for hedgehogs. You need to minimise them to make your garden the most hedgehog friendly. Are you thinking if it’s possible to make your garden hazard-free completely? Here are a few things that you can ensure:
Netting and Litter
Hedgehogs have a tendency to get stuck in nets, pipes, holes and even litter. Hence, keep your garden free of litter, especially net and plastic. Also, cover the pipes and holes in your garden as much as possible.
Before you use any sharp power tool such as a brush cutter or a mower, make sure you have thoroughly checked the place for resting hedgehogs. After use, you need to keep these sharp tools in a safe place where the hedgehogs have no access.
Protect Hedgehogs from Streaming and Bonfire
Streaming and bonfire are some regular garden activities to keep your garden healthy. However, you can kill hedgehogs in the process if aren’t careful enough. You should always check well before streaming and bonfire because hedgehogs usually love to rest under the leaf piles and wild grasses.
Stop Using Chemicals
Using chemicals is a strict NO if you really want your garden to be hedgehog friendly. Hedgehogs are natural predators of harmful pests and insects in your garden. Hence, they will be naturally gone when you have hedgehogs in the garden. Using chemicals might result in poisoned hedgehogs, which should be avoided.
Which garden is the most hedgehog friendly?
Most gardens with holes in the garden gate and garden fencing are hedgehog friendly. Natural, wild gardens are more hedgehog friendly than artificial ones.
Which place is the most suitable for a hedgehog home?
The quietest part of your garden is often the best place to create hedgehog homes. If there is a bank, fence or wall, you can position the house just against it.
Whom should I contact to visit my sick hedgehog?
You should contact the British hedgehog preservation society as soon as possible if your hedgehog is sick. Their professionals keep visiting hedgehogs and help the garden owners.