Help keep hedgehogs safe

Help keep hedgehogs safe
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Fay Vass, Chief Executive of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, shares her top ten hedgehog tips.

Let them in

Make sure hedgehogs have access into and out of your garden, a 13cm (5”) square gap will open up a perhaps long used hedgehog highway that us humans have blocked with fences or walls.  Hedgehog travel up to a mile in a night so need access to plenty of gardens! You can even map your newly made hedgehog hole online at www.hedgehogstreet.org - Hedgehog Street is a joint project between the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and People's Trust for Endangered Species.

Provide shelter

Keep a corner of your garden wild to offer shelter, protection and natural food for hedgehogs and other wildlife.  Encourage wildlife into your garden, but you should never just move one in from another area, as it may well have a nest of dependent young that you would be condemning to death.

Be organic in the garden

Avoid using pesticides and slug pellets in your garden.  Not only can these harm hedgehogs but also damage their food chain.  Use organic methods instead.
Provide a shallow dish of fresh water for all wildlife, and food such as meat based pet food or unsweetened museli for hedgehogs, especially during long dry spells.

Provide a home

Make or buy a hedgehog home, this offers a hibernation site safe from predators in the winter.  It may also be used as a nesting box for a mother and her hoglets in the warmer months.  The British Hedgehog Preservation Society can provide a leaflet on building a hedgehog home.  See www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk or send an A5 sae to Hedgehog House, (Hedgehog Homes), Dhustone, Ludlow, SY8 3PL.

Look before you mow

Check areas thoroughly for hedgehogs and other wildlife before strimming or mowing.  Keep pea netting 22-30cms (9 - 12") off the ground so hedgehogs can pass under and plants will grow to the netting.

Dispose of litter responsibly

Every year hedgehogs are injured by litter and starve to death by getting trapped in discarded rubbish.

Check bonfires

Bonfires offer a tempting home for a hedgehog, ideally collected materials should be re-sited just before the fire is to be lit, if this is not possible, the base should be lifted up with poles or broom handles (not a fork!) and a torch shone in to look for any wildlife or pets in need of rescue before lighting.

Make ponds hedgehog friendly

Hedgehogs are good swimmers but can become trapped in ponds or pools with sheer sides.  Keep water levels topped up, provide a gently sloping edge if possible or place half submerged rocks in the water as an escape for them.
 
For more information on caring for hedgehogs visit www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk