Hedgehog Awareness Week
In 2020 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List for British Mammals classified the European hedgehog as “vulnerable to extinction”.
For Hedgehog Awareness Week our Research Associate Dr Sophie Lund Rasmussen is sharing tips on how everyone can help support the recovery of the species through seven simple hedgehog friendly steps that you can take at home in your garden.
Tip #1 Hedgehog Highways
Please ensure hedgehogs can travel freely between gardens in search for food and mates by making a Hedgehog Highway. In this video Dr Rasmussen explains how modern fenced-in gardens can hinder the essential free movement of hedgehogs and shows how easy it is to create ‘highways’ that allows them access in and out.
Tip #2 Supplementary Feeding
You can give the hedgehogs a helping hand by serving fresh water and dry cat food in your garden. In this video Dr Rasmussen describes how you can help the hedgehogs by providing supplementary feeding for them, whilst keeping strict hygiene to avoid any disease transmission. She advises the use of multiple feeding stations to avoid aggressive encounters between hedgehogs.
Tip #3 Hedgehog Houses and Nest Sites
Hedgehogs need good places to nest. By providing suitable nest sites for hedgehogs in your garden, you are even more likely to get spiky visitors. In this video Dr Rasmussen shows how to easily create a range of different nest sites for hedgehogs and where best to place them
Tip #4 Attract Biodiversity
By attracting more biodiversity to your garden you will increase the amount of natural food items present for the hedgehogs. Helping hedgehogs is also a great excuse to let your garden grow wild! In this video Dr Rasmussen introduces different methods for obtaining a richer biodiversity in the garden such as sowing native wildflower seeds, setting up insect hotels and nest boxes for birds.
Tip #5 Garden Safety
Hedgehogs and humans share garden space. Therefore, a very important feature of a hedgehog friendly garden is garden safety. In this video Dr Rasmussen reminds you how hedgehogs tend to get themselves into all sorts of trouble, and urges you to:
- Check the hedges for resting hedgehogs before strimming
- Ensure netting is kept at a height that allows hedgehogs to pass safely under it
- Check compost heaps carefully before digging the fork in
- Stop using pesticides and poisons
- Move piles of rubbish or garden waste to a new site on the day you are burning it and check it carefully before setting light to it and providing an escape route
- Cover drains or deep holes
- Keep any dogs showing aggressive behavior towards hedgehogs on a leash at night
- Make sure there is an exit way for the hedgehogs out of ponds and pools
Tip #6 Build a Feeding Station
If you want to avoid feeding the neighbour’s cat or other wildlife that might be tempted to take advantage of food and water intended for hedgehogs, it is worth considering a secure feeding station, which will only allow hedgehogs to enter.
In this video Dr Rasmussen demonstrates how simple it is to build a feeding station for hedgehogs based on items readily available in the household and also shows other ideas for inspiration.
Tip #7 Hedgehog conservation: How to help outside your own garden
In addition to all of the hedgehog friendly garden tips released this week, there also other ways to help preserve hedgehogs in the wild.
In this video Dr Rasmussen explains how you can support her research on hedgehogs (https://www.wildcru.org/support-us/) and the important work of NGOs such as the British Hedgehog Preservation Society as well as your local wildlife rescue centre. How you can sign petitions to help the hedgehogs and engage in practical conservation work for hedgehogs through your local Wildlife Trust or Hedgehog Street.
Photo credits: Pia Burmøller Hansen