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How to Help Hedgehogs
Humble, cute and shockingly rare, hedgehogs need our help more than ever. These prickly creatures have been around for 15 million years and once roamed Britain alongside sabre tooth tigers and woolly mammoths. But since 2002 their decline has plummeted so rapidly they now face extinction.
If the trend continues these lovable hogs will only exist in paintings like mine. I rescued this particular hedgehog baby, or hoglet, from my garden and grew so fond of it I couldn’t resist painting its portrait. Hedgehogs are reputed to have 5,000 spines, so you can imagine how long it took me to finish! It has been such a popular painting I’ve used it on some of my giftware. Scroll down to see my range.
Rescuing the hoglet was more difficult than I first imagined. It was so tiny I had to try out different formulas to feed it and ended up buying a heat mat to keep it alive during its first night.
The experience has made me keen to do something about all hedgehogs and so in support of Hedgehog Awareness Week, a campaign run by The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, I’ve put together a list of what you can do to also help hedgehogs.
Help Hedgehogs and Make a Hedgehog Highway
Since 2002 we have lost more than 30% of hedgehogs from our urban areas and almost 50% from the countryside. One of the main reasons hedgehogs are struggling in rural areas is that their habitats have been fragmented. You can make sure they have room to roam by cutting hedgehog ‘doors’ into your garden fences, roughly the size of a CD, or digging holes underneath so they can get under. They travel up to two miles a night.
Help Hedgehogs by leaving ‘wild’ patches in your garden
Add a tussocky patch to your garden as a perfect daytime nesting area for hedgehogs. Allow a corner of your lawn to grow long, or sow a mix of native grasses and wildflowers. Leave this vegetation over winter as it provides a crucial habitat for many invertebrates to complete their life-cycle – a garden buzzing with insects is a great garden for hedgehogs
Help Hedgehogs and Make a Hedgehog House
Purpose-built ‘hog houses’ are fun, but a woodpile is a multi-functional, one-stop shop for hedgehogs, providing abundant insect food together with a sheltered spot for them to start a family. Simply leaning a piece of wood against a wall or fence. Hedgehogs breed between April and September. In the autumn don’t clear away fallen leaves. Pile them up in quiet, undisturbed corners of your garden to allow hedgehogs a safe, secure area to breed and hibernate.
Help Hedgehogs and Say no to Slug Pellets
Hedgehogs hoover up over 100 invertebrates, such as snails, slugs and worms every night, so no need to use poisonous slug pellets!
Help Hedgehogs and check long grass before mowing
Accidents happen and you’ll never forgive yourself if you dont!
Help Hedgehogs and Don’t Leave Milk Out for Them
Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. Far better to make your garden wildlife friendly. Mulch your flowerbeds to encourage earthworms, woodlouse and other insects for them to eat.
Best of luck. A hedgehog in the garden is also good fun to watch and you can’t fail to enjoy listening to them snuffling about under the hedge at night!
If you love hedgehogs you may like my range of hedgehog gifts:
Author: Robert E Fuller