Free Press Column - Environmental scientist shares tips on how to help out hedgehogs this Winter
Columnist Kirsty- Jo shares her simple steps to making your garden hedgehog friendly.
To make a garden hedgehog friendly is fairly simple and costs the same, or less, as adopting an animal in a zoo or abroad. Invest some time, and we can start to make a difference to an endangered species on our own doorsteps.
Step 1: Make sure hedgehogs can get in and out of your garden by making a 10cm space in your fence or boundary.At least two would be best but I feel compelled to tell you that rats and rabbits could also use this hole so make sure you’re OK with this before you start butchering your fence!
Step 2: Make sure there’s some form of shelter for your hogs. Piles of logs and sticks will do nicely, or you could get handy and make a hedgehog house (also make great gifts). A wooden box with ventilation and a 30cm x 11 cm x 15cm tunnel entrance is all you need.BBC Gardeners world has some simple instructions online. Hibernating hedgehogs in your garden will awake in Spring hungry for slugs and snails!
Step 3: Speaking of slugs, if you’re looking to invite hedgehogs into your garden, it’s best to go for organic pest control in general but it’s absolutely essential you don’t use chemical slug pellets. They can result in a slow and painful death for Mrs Tiggywinkle.
Step 4: Food and water. You’ll need to provide a source of water, even a small cat bowl will do.
Don’t, whatever you do, give them milk and bread. If you want to feed the hedgehogs then meat chunk cat food is best but again, rats might find food left out very tempting too.
Step 5: Other pets and hazards. If you’ve got cats and dogs, you need to consider what they’ll think of a new prickled family sharing their space. A feisty Jack Russell may worry a hedgehog family or worse. If you’ve got a pond then you need to include a ladder so that hedgehogs can get out if they fall in.