27th June 2024

Helping our Hedgehogs

Helping our hedgehogs
Helping our hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are charming, nocturnal creatures that play a crucial role in our ecosystem by controlling pests. Unfortunately, their numbers are in decline. Rural populations are plummeting by 30% to 75% across different areas of the countryside since the year 2000. In contrast, the urban hedgehog seems to have stabilised and could start to recover after having also been in a similar decline. By creating a hedgehog-friendly garden and knowing some basic first aid, we can help these adorable animals thrive, whether you live in the countryside, or the city.

Creating a Hedgehog-Friendly Garden

Transforming your garden into a hedgehog haven is simpler than you might think. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Provide Shelter: Hedgehogs need safe places to rest during the day and hibernate in the winter. Create shelters by leaving piles of leaves, logs, or purpose-built hedgehog houses in quiet corners of your garden. Take inspiration from the likes of Sherwood Forest and Clumber Park, these are great examples of natural habitats that we can emulate on a smaller scale.
  • Water and Food: Offer shallow dishes of water and cat or dog food. Avoid bread and milk as they can cause serious health issues for hedgehogs. The UK warmer summers and heat waves can lead to dehydration, making water sources particularly important.
  • Gardening Practices: Avoid using pesticides and slug pellets. These chemicals can harm hedgehogs directly or reduce their food sources. Instead, use natural deterrents such as crushed eggshells, coffee grounds, or seaweed to keep the bugs at bay. Or better yet, let hedgehogs be your natural pest controllers!
  • Connectivity: Ensure there are gaps or small holes (about 13 cm in diameter) in fences to allow hedgehogs to roam between gardens safely. This is particularly important in urban areas like city centres, where hedgehogs’ natural movement is restricted.

For more tips on creating hedgehog-friendly gardens, visit Hedgehog Street.

Hedgehog First Aid & Safety

If you find a hedgehog in distress, knowing some basic first aid can make a significant difference. Here’s what to do:

  • Handle with Care: Use gardening gloves to pick up the hedgehog, as their spines can be sharp.
  • Warmth: If the hedgehog is cold, provide warmth using a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel.
  • Hydration: Offer water through a syringe or shallow dish.
  • Observation: Check for injuries. If there are open wounds, maggots, or fly eggs, contact a local wildlife rescue centre immediately.
  • Bonfire Checks: Always check bonfires for hedgehogs before lighting. This is especially crucial in rural Nottinghamshire, where hedgehogs may seek shelter in garden debris.
  • Netting: Raise garden netting off the ground to avoid entangling hedgehogs.
  • Litter: Keep your garden free of litter to prevent accidental ingestion or entrapment.

In Nottinghamshire, you can reach out to organisations like the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust or local vets who can assist with wildlife care. For comprehensive hedgehog care information, visit the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS).

Why Hedgehogs Matter

Hedgehogs are natural pest controllers, eating a variety of garden pests like slugs, beetles, and caterpillars. Supporting hedgehogs not only helps these delightful creatures but also promotes a healthy and balanced garden ecosystem. In Nottinghamshire, where agriculture and gardening are prominent, this can significantly benefit local flora and fauna.

By making a few simple changes in our gardening habits and being prepared to help a hedgehog in need, we can ensure that these beloved animals continue to thrive in our neighbourhoods.

To contribute to hedgehog conservation efforts, you can also log sightings and help monitor their populations through the Big Hedgehog Map.

Let’s all do our part to protect and nurture our hedgehogs!

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