Autumn is approaching and before long, the nights will be getting darker and we’ll be getting ready to light the bonfire. But spare a thought for the wildlife that seek a safe haven in your garden, especially hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs are busy preparing to hibernate at this time of year, so it helps if you can give them a good supply of food to tide them over and help them to navigate the many hazards they face in the autumn.
Make your garden safe for them
Don’t use slug pellets as they can be poisonous to hedgehogs, and ponds also pose a hazard, so pile some stones or rocks up at the side of the pond so they have a way out if they should fall in. Hedgehogs tend to hide in piles of leaves and rubbish, so be careful not to pick up a hedgehog when you’re putting leaves and waste in the bin or onto a bonfire.
Make sure they have plenty to eat
Hedgehogs mainly live on a diet of insects, but you can make sure they have enough food to get them over the winter by putting out cat or dog food, crushed up cat biscuits, chopped boiled eggs, or even special hedgehog food that you can buy from pet shops. Other wildlife might try and steal the food if you leave it out (this means you, Mr. fox) so put it in a plastic box with a hole cut in it that’s big enough for a hedgehog to get into. Put some water out for them too in a shallow dish. Don’t be tempted to leave out bread and milk as it’s bad for hedgehogs.
Create a place for them to hibernate safely
Hedgehogs hibernation havens of choice include piles of leaves, stacks of logs, or compost heaps, but if you really want to make them feel at home, you can build them a hibernation house. This is a good little project to get the kids involved in. You’ll need:
- A large cardboard or plastic box
- A Stanley knife
- Dry leaves or some straw
- A sheet of plastic or a carrier bag that’s been opened up
- Long twigs
Cut an entrance big enough for a hedgehog to fit through and two ventilation holes, using the Stanley knife. Put the leaves or straw inside the box and over the top of it, and place the box next to a hedge or fence. Place the plastic sheet or carrier bag on top and make an archway with the twigs. Cover the box as much as you can with leaves and dry grass-and voila, you’ve created the perfect hibernation house for a hedgehog and maybe his little family.