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How to attract hedgehogs into your garden
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Creating a hedgehog friendly garden
Hedgehogs are one of the best animals to bring into your garden because they will consume pests like slugs so that you don’t have to, plus there adorable and don’t do any harm. They give a helping hand to your garden but how can you attract them so that they show up regularly?
Make it easier for them to get into your garden in the first place
Give them access. One of the biggest issues that gardeners have is that they don’t have a natural access point for hedgehogs or other Wildlife. If you have a wooden fence with concrete bases right around your garden it doesn’t leave any room for the wildlife to meander in and out.
Hedgehogs have seen a big decline over the years so it’s in our interest to do what we can to help these animals, one way to do this is to encourage them to visit our garden, below we go other a few pointers to help the hedgehogs and offer a safe place for them to feed as well as hibernate and sleep.
Plant a hedge
So, if you can, replace any wooden fences you have with hedges. Hedges still give you privacy but they make for excellent wildlife habitats for both hedgehogs and birds, providing colour and food for garden birds and giving things like hedgehogs an access route.
Create a small gap in your fence
Alternatively, you can simply create a gap at the bottom of your fence or lift your gate so that it stands 15 or 20cm above the ground. This will give enough room for the Hedgehogs to crawl under.
Leave some parts of the garden natural and unkept
Leave some parts of your garden unkept if you can. This will provide naturally fallen leaves, dead vegetation and other material hedgehogs will use to make nests. They also cultivate insects and slugs for them to feed on.
If you are unable to keep part of your garden unkept, you can alternatively create piles of old wood bits where the hedgehogs can hide or sleep. Pick a quiet spot for this so that if they hibernate in your garden, they can do it undisturbed with plenty of cover.
Invest in a hedgehog house for them to sleep and hibernate over winter
In order for hedgehogs to survive in the winter, they need shelter so having a pristine, well-manicured garden leaves hedgehogs no place to make a mess naturally. You can help with this by building or buying a house specifically for hedgehogs so they can sleep and hibernate in it over winter, look for models that are fox proof.
Buy hedgehog food to feed them or simply use a small bowl of cat food out
Another important component is to give them enough food and water to get through the winter. Most hedgehogs will eat about half their weight every day in food. Hedgehogs that are born too late in the season won’t be able to build up enough body fat with the food that’s available to them so you can help supplement their diet by leaving out food and a bowl of water. You can buy specially formulated hedgehog food as pictured above or just leave a small bowl of cat food out.
If you have a pond, provide a small ledge for them to climb out
If you have a garden pond, hedgehogs will no doubt come to take a swim. Create a sloping edge with wood or rocks so that hedgehogs can get in and out of your pond each time they swim. This will ensure its safe for them and also help encourage them to your garden again.
Don’t use garden chemicals or slug pellets – use animal safe alternatives
If you have a problem with slugs and you are using chemicals or pellets to get rid of the slug problem, this could be potentially fatal to the hedgehogs if they consume them. It is best to use organic pest control methods that won’t harm the hedgehogs such as beer traps, eggshells and even copper rings around plants, this helps keep your garden safe from pellets and harmful chemicals which will eventually help lure hedgehogs to it who will take care of your slug problem for you.
Check long grass and overgrowth before mowing or strimming
When you bring hedgehogs to your garden or are trying to do so, make sure you look out for them whenever you head out to the garden. When hedgehogs are in danger they will freeze up and curl into a ball. So, if you have a long grass area in your garden, hedgehogs will no doubt be hunting there or things like beetles and earthworms. Before you start mowing or using any other power tool, check for hedgehogs and other forms of wildlife.