Attracting Hedgehogs To Your Garden
Hedgehogs are a gardener’s little helper! They eat slugs and other pests that cause trouble in your garden so by providing them with a nice home, it benefits both you and them. In the 1950s it is thought that there were around 30 million hedgehogs in Britain, and today that figure is thought to be more like 1.5 million. Here are a few tips to help to welcome hedgehogs into your garden:
Leave natural areas
Choose a quiet spot in your garden and allow it to stay naturally a bit messy. Hedgehogs like fallen leaves and twigs to build shelter, and it also attracts bugs and insects that they can feed on. You can also add logs, or cut up your old Christmas tree once the festive period is over to provide a bit more shelter.
Provide a home
By doing the above, you will provide shelter and materials for hedgehogs to build a nest and protection, but if you want to go a bit further (or don’t want a messy, unkempt area of your garden) you could even build them a little home. Start with an old wooden crate and go from there. Make the entrance a tunnel around 4 inches wide so that the hedgehogs can crawl in but predators are kept out. Add some ventilation using a pipe and then cover the house using leaves or straw to keep it nice and warm during November to March when hedgehogs hibernate.
Hedgehogs are best left to feed naturally and fend for themselves, however if the winter is particularly long or your hedgehogs look a bit small as they may have been born late in the season, give them a helping hand. Avoid giving them bread and milk, hedgehogs are actually lactose intolerant. Instead leave them water, and any of the following – boiled eggs, chicken varieties of cat food, crushed cat biscuits or chopped nuts.
Avoid using chemicals
A common cause of hedgehog deaths is when they feed on slugs that have eaten slug pellets. By attracting hedgehogs and other wildlife to your garden these should take care of pests, but if your garden still needs further help try to use organic methods of pest control.
Look out for them
If you do manage to successfully attract hedgehogs to your garden, don’t forget about them! Hedgehogs like to have a little nosy around your compost heap and like to roam around in the long grass so cannot always be seen straight away. Before you turn over your compost heap or mow your grass, check that there are no hedgehogs hiding in there first.
Following the tips above, you should be able to turn your garden into a 5 star hedgehog hotel providing them with all the shelter and food they need, and as payment they will take care of all those unwanted slugs for you!