A new survey has revealed hedgehog numbers are dwindling - so it’s time to set about luring them back into our gardens.
In the last decade, hedgehog numbers have gone down by 30 per cent and it’s estimated there may be less than a million left in the UK. But fear not, The Wildlife Trust has some advice as to what we can do to help save this prickly garden favourite:
- Create hedgehog highways. They need plenty of access to search for food, nesting sites and mates, so cut a 13cm sq hole in your fence or dig a channel under garden boundaries to allow them to wander - and get your neighbours to do the same.
- Provide nesting sites. Log and leaf piles are ideal places for hedgehogs to nest and hibernate. Fallen leaves make the perfect nesting material, so don’t clear all of these away in autumn. Pile them in quiet, undisturbed corners of your garden.
- Avoid slug pellets. Hedgehogs hoover up more than 100 invertebrates such as snails, slugs and worms every night, so no need to use slug pellets.
- Cover drains and gullies. Hedgehogs have poor eyesight, but are quite curious, meaning they fall into holes and get stuck, so cover up any open drains and gullies. If you have a pond, provide an access point so hedgehogs can climb back out.
- Grow a wide variety of plants. Attract plenty of natural hedgehog food by keeping your garden diverse with a wide variety of habitats. Let your grass grow a little wild and leave some leaf litter - both are important homes for the hedgehog’s prey.
- Check bonfires. Every year, hedgehogs die under bonfire piles that have not been checked before being lit.
- Set up a feeding station. Cut a clear hole in a plastic storage box and weigh down the lid with bricks to stop cats and foxes taking the food.