The state of Britain’s Hedgehogs is a sad one. From a population of around 30 million in the 1950s, to barely a million today, this is clearly one endangered species. The sight of hedgehogs in the countryside and urban gardens is becoming rarer; there’s need to encourage them into the gardens, feed them well and given a safe place to hibernate.
They should be provided with a suitable entry point either under the gate or a hole in the fence just enough for them to squeeze through. In case of a pond it is essential to add an escape ramp should a hedgehog accidentally fall in.
Identifying a hedgehog;
This is a small garden mammal with a body covered in
sharp spines. The spines on the back and upper body parts can bristle and they
stick out in all directions. When the hedgehog is alarmed, it curls up in a
ball for protection. They do not have real predators because they are potent
predators themselves. The hedgehog’s head, flakes, and under parts are covered
in brown hair. The ears are hairy, its snout black and shiny, and the eyes are
Hedgehog poo and how it looks like;
Hedgehog dropping is found on glass close to a flower border or hedge. Their poo vary depending on their diet. Droppings can be of all shapes and sizes. They are usually shiny black or dark brown, firm and are packed with bits of insects or worms. The poo will be roughly cylindrical and ranges in length from 15-50mm.
To detect if hedgehogs are around in the garden, one can
search for footprints. Front and back feet both have five toes, but only four
show up on the tracks. The front feet are wide, and back feet are slimmer and
longer and leave narrower prints. To detect the presence of hedgehogs, try
using footprint tunnel kits; these can be bought or made. Hedgehogs footprints
left in the mud may be different from that on the kit.
What do hedgehogs eat?
Hedgehogs feed mostly on creepy crawlies like caterpillars, worms, grubs. They come in handy in the garden by clearing fruits which have fallen and bird eggs. Ready-mixed hedgehog food can be bought in garden centres and pet stores. It is also possible to make hedgehog feeds. They should be provided with a balanced diet high in protein. Their foods include; meat-based cat or dog food, mealworms, leftover cooked meats, unsalted nuts. The food should be chopped nicely and small as they have tiny teeth and cannot tear food up. They should not be feed on milk, bread or fish. Hedgehogs use food in gardens to supplement their natural diet. They should also be provided with a good clean supply of drinking water.
Housing a hedgehog
The ideal home for a hedgehog should have the following;
- A large cage and room
- Soft bedding for the cage floor
- A hiding place
- Litter box
- A food and water bowl
- A heat lamp
- Exercise wheel
Ways of encouraging hedgehogs in the garden
- Less gardening and leaving plant hedges and plant hedges
- Make sure that hedgehogs can get into the garden.
- Create the right habitat for its insect-rich diet to thrive
- Shelter them with either heaps or just twigs
- Protect them from injuries.
Reducing any problems that may be encountered in the garden
- Bonfires; By using a proper incinerator or moving the piles to be burnt before setting the fire.
- Ponds; Provide escape routes for hedgehogs or keeping the ponds topped up. Pots that might fill with water should be kept upside down.
- Drains; Keep the drain holes covered up to stop leaves and hedgehogs from blocking the drain. Also, check uncovered drains for footings.
- Fences; Repair wooden fences as soon as possible when they blow down in wind as hedgehogs may be tempted to make nests underneath them. Embrace the use of environmentally safe wood preservatives. These hazards occur regularly.
- Netting; All nets like pea nets, tennis nets should be above the ground so the hedgehogs can go under them and will not try to go through them as they may get stuck. Barbed wires also need to be kept off the ground and never be discarded carelessly.
- Wild patches; Always take care when mowing long grass and wild patches as hedgehogs keep their nest there. Providing a suitable hibernation area can help prevent accidents.
- Slug pellets; Try other alternatives as these may kill. But if they must be used, then use them sparingly and pick dead snails and slugs immediately. Before using them it is important to read the direction carefully.