How to Attract Hedgehogs to Your GardenColin Campbell-Preston
With their button eyes, snuffly little noses and wobbly walks, hedgehogs are a welcome sight in the garden. And for the keen gardener, even more so! There’s a reason these wonderful little creatures are known as the gardener’s friend, eating a whole host of bugs, slugs and grubs who in turn like to feast on our lovingly cultivated plants. They’re basically cute little caretakers, helping your garden bloom, blossom and look its best.
So, how do you get hedgehogs to pick your garden as opposed to the neighbours’? We’ve compiled a few methods to entice our spiky little friends, and have sought the advice of Fay Vass from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, to help you build a little hedgehog paradise right outside your home.
Hedgehog-Proof the Area
Before enticing the hedgehogs into your garden, make sure it’s a safe space for them to visit, eat and enjoy their stay. The first step is to make sure that any ponds or water features are safe for hedgehog water parties. These little guys love to swim (and it’s adorable when you catch them mid-stroke), but their swimming skills are not matched by an ability to get out of steep-sided ponds. So make sure that a gentle slope leading to the water is available, ensuring the hedgehogs can swim and leave as they please.
Also, try to avoid using slug pellets and other chemicals. Hedgehogs can assume the slug-ridding responsibilities, so you shouldn’t need these pellets and chemicals. Slug pellets can be dangerous to hedgehogs, and are a common cause of fatality, so avoid using them if you want a happy back garden hedgehog community.
Offer Food and Drink
Hedgehogs love to be wined and dined, and will happily accept food and drink left out for them to devour. As hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal creatures, leaving a bowl of food and water before bedtime can prove to be the perfect invitation. The chance of a slap up feed will entice them out of the overgrowth and into your garden – even if you’re snoozing all the while.
Stumped for what to feed the little fellas? Fay Vass suggests: “Hedgehog food can be offered or meaty cat/dog food, chopped unsalted peanuts and sunflower hearts. Water is the best drink to offer.”
Putting out a little food or drink when the weather is particularly dry can be a huge help for the hedgehog population, when natural food and water can be scarce. They need to pile on the pounds in the run up to hibernation so they can make it through the winter.
Provide Access to the Garden
Those little legs aren’t built for climbing, so hedgehogs need easy access to enjoy the back garden. Fay Vass suggests creating a CD box-sized gap in your fence to allow hedgehogs to wander in and enjoy your garden. If they can smell food, and have access, the hedgehogs will be regular visitors to your patch.
Creating shelter for hedgehogs needn’t be a large DIY undertaking, it can be as simple as letting a small part of the garden overgrow slightly. By allowing part of the garden to grow wild, hedgehogs can find a suitable habitat with ease. Fallen leaves, twigs, and dead vegetation are all super helpful for hedgehogs looking to build a nest. What’s more, the overgrowth will also attract bugs and slugs – so more delicious treats for the lucky hedgehogs to feast upon.
Logs make a great addition to the wild patch of the garden, so if you’ve got some spare logs knocking around the fireplace, or are looking for a clever way to recycle the old Christmas tree, send it to the hogs.
If you’re determined to make a stylish home for visiting hedgehogs, they can be bought pre-built or can be made from an upturned wooden crate. Just make sure there’s sufficient ventilation and a good-sized entrance for the hedgehogs to wander through. It’s important the materials are strong enough to survive the weather conditions between November and March (when the hedgehogs will be hibernating) and that the little house will be placed in a position which will be left undisturbed during these months.
If you plan to add a ventilation pipe, make sure the top of the pipe faces downwards, so rain can’t flood in. Then, insulate the entire home with leaves and straw, before covering with a polythene sheet.
Finally, make sure you don’t coat the wood with any chemicals or wood preservatives; these can be dangerous and potentially fatal for the hedgehogs during their slumbering weeks and months of hibernation.
Be Careful of Snoozing Hogs
So, you’ve built a beautiful hedgehog-friendly garden that’s ever popular with the local hedgehog community. Now’s the time to be careful of any creatures which call your garden ‘home’. Every time you get out the mower or trimmer, make sure you check the area for hedgehogs – this includes under piles of leaves, in any hedgehog homes or any forms of overgrowth in the garden.
If the worst does happen, and you accidentally injure a hedgehog, or uncover an injured one, Fay Vass has some words of advice which could save the little creature’s life:
“If a hedgehog is injured or poorly, you should use gardening gloves to pick it up and pop it in a high-sided box indoors away from flies. Keep it at a nice warm temperature and offer an old towel in the bottom of the box for it to hide under. Put food and water in the box too, then once it’s settled like that, please call us on 01584 890 801 for numbers of local volunteer rehabilitators for further help.”
If you are interested in helping the UK’s hedgehog population, you can become a Hedgehog Champion, just like Fay Vass. Sign up at Hedgehog Street, and you’ll be given all the info and support to help ensure this charming species continues to flourish in our back gardens.
Capital Gardens is made up of a team of inner city gardening specialists. Head over to our homepage for a great selection of everything you could possibly need for your back garden. Alternatively, visit us in one of our three stores for more information about caring for our back garden creatures or anything else garden related.