Leave a wild area of your garden
What is the secret to attracting hedgehogs? Hedgehogs are happiest snuffling around in overgrown areas of nature. It’s pretty easy to recreate this sort of environment in your own garden.
Follow these easy steps:
Leave long grass around the edges
When you cut your lawn leave an uncut edge around your lawn or miss a section at one side. A few tens of cms of uncut grass make an amazing habitat for the kind of bugs hedgehogs like to eat. This extra source of food and a safe place for foraging will make hedgehogs love your garden.
Pile up the garden waste
When you cut branches from bushes and trees instead of throwing them away make a pile in the corner of the garden. Hedgehogs and other garden creatures will find a way to burrow in and create nests. Places to rest or nest in your garden will make for happy hedgehogs
Don’t use pesticides or slug pellets
Pesticides kill the creatures hedgehogs like to eat. If they aren’t in your garden the hedgehogs won’t be interested. Hedgehogs may not eat the chemicals or slug pellets themselves but they may eat slugs that have been poisoned so they get the chemicals second hand. Try using one of many natural alternatives, like sprinkling crushed eggshells or coffee grounds around the plants you need to protect.
Using organic pest control is better for the environment and for garden creatures.
Create access through fences
The hedgehogs that visit your garden are likely to have visited most of the gardens on your street on the same night. Hedgehogs can travel between 1 and 2 km every night while they are foraging.
If your garden is surrounded by a solid fence or wall there will be no way for the little visitors to gain access.
So what should you do? Before you do anything make sure you have permission to start a DIY project.
DIY access hole
Cut a 13cm wide access hole in your fence or wall to allow access. It doesn’t have to be fancy just enough for the hedgehog to squeeze through. One hole in each side of the garden is enough to let the hedgehog travel through.
Hedgehog Highway Access Plate
There are many pre-cut hedgehog highway plates to finish off the job of cutting a hole in your fence.
They are a lovely reminder of why the hole has been cut in the first place and help to cover any rough edges if your DIY isn’t 100% perfect.
There are many providers of specialist hedgehog food now. I prefer a small shallow bowl this reduces the chance of the bowl being tipped over. It also forces you to clean and refill it every day reducing cross contamination.
A simple shallow bowl of water is enough. Remember to change the water and clean the bowl every day to avoid cross-contamination with other hedgehogs.
The choice between ceramic or steel is basically aesthetic the hedgehogs won’t care or pass comment on the type of bowl you put out. As long as it is full they will be happy.
Create a hedgehog house
What is in a natural Hedgehog house?
Natural nests can range in size and are made under sheds, shrubs and bushes, piles of leaves and logs, compost and even rubbish heaps. They will use natural materials such as grass, moss, straw, plants, leaves, and all sorts of garden debris to build their nests. They will pull all this material into their nest to make it warm and cosy. You can help them in your garden by
leaving some nice thick dense undergrowth, piles of leaves, and grass at different lengths.
What do I need to make a Hedgehog house?
Hedgehogs aren’t too fussy, they are used to living in the wild so anything that keeps them warm and dry will do. Here are some examples:
A pile of logs
If there is a gap big enough the hedgehog can sneak in and make its nest under the logs.
A shop bought hedgehog house
Designed specifically for a hedgehog they normally have an entrance tunnel that will deter other animals and keep the worst weather out. They are normally made from untreated wood with a waterproof roof.
A home made hedgehog house
As long as it is waterproof and uses untreated wood your home made house will work just as well as a shop bought house.
You can just figure out the design by trial and error or you can follow some of the free to download plans:
Compost heaps are the human-made equivalent of a natural hedgehog nest. They are naturally warm, cozy, and rarely disturbed through the winter. Perfect for a hibernating hedgehog.
Make your garden hedgehog safe
Cover or fill any deep holes
Hedgehogs can easily fall into uncovered drains or holes in your garden, so it’s important to cover them or check them daily to ensure no hedgehogs have become trapped.
Provide a hedgehog exit ramp to ponds
It is important to provide a safe exit route for animals that may fall into ponds or pools. You can use bricks or stones to create a sloped edge on part of the pond, making it easier for hedgehogs or other creatures to climb out. Additionally, it’s a good idea to cover swimming pools when they are not in use or overnight, to prevent any accidents.
Check before gardening
Before using strimmers or mowers, always check for hedgehogs – especially under hedges where they may be resting during the day. If you’re turning over a compost heap, make sure to check for any nesting hedgehogs first.
Look for hedgehogs under bonfires
It is important to always disturb bonfires thoroughly before lighting them, as there might be hedgehogs nesting or hiding inside. The best way to ensure that you don’t harm any wildlife is to move the entire bonfire by hand before setting it alight. This will allow you to check if there are any animals sleeping inside.
Pick up litter
It’s important to remember that litter can pose a real danger to hedgehogs. These small creatures can accidentally get their heads stuck in discarded tins, plastic bags, drink can binders, or even yoghurt pots. To keep them safe, always dispose of your rubbish safely and ensure that your garden is free of litter. Additionally, make sure to cut up any plastic rings, no matter how small they are.
Tidy up any netting
Netting is a garden essential especially with fruit and I find with peas. If you have any netting or wire in your garden, make sure it’s at least a foot above ground level, as hedgehogs can easily become tangled up in it. Pack the nets away when you are done with them and consider replacing them with metal mesh to avoid snagging a paw.
Don’t trap them inside
Don’t close your shed doors if you usually keep them open, as there might be hedgehogs nesting inside. Keep any dangerous chemicals or tools well off the ground. If you ever need to dismantle your shed, check carefully underneath the floor first for nesting or hibernating hedgehogs.
Keep your hedgehog safe from other animals
Some dogs will see a hedgehog as potential prey so will attack. As dogs are usually much bigger they can inflict serious bites and crush injuries on a hedgehog even if it rolls into a ball.
It is best to keep your dog away from any visitors to your garden or at least keep them under control with a lead.
Before going into your garden it is a good idea to turn on a light so the hedgehog isn’t totally surprised.
What to do next:
- Leave some of your garden wild
- Stack up branches and garden waste in a corner for a nesting place
- Create a compost heap
- Make a hedgehog highway
- Provide food and water
- Stop using chemicals
- Make your garden hedgehog safe
Shepreth Wildlife Conservation Charity – http://www.swccharity.org/
RSPCA hedgehog advice – https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/hedgehogs
Hedgehog Street – https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/
The wildlife trusts – https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions/how-build-hedgehog-home