It's currently Hedgehog Awareness Week (3rd - 9th May 2020), and if you're looking for ways to look after these spiny sweethearts, you're in the right place.
Hedgehogs are still a fairly common sight in the UK, but their numbers are thought to be declining. Life can be a bit dangerous for a garden hedgehog - every November, we're reminded to check for hedgehogs before lighting the Guy Fawkes Night bonfire, but why stop at that? There are plenty of other things you can do to make the world a friendlier place for these much-loved creatures.
One of our most recognisable wild animals - the humble hedgehog - is currently on a mission to fatten up before hibernating over the Winter. From roughly November to March, they will snuggle up in a pile of leaves, logs or garden debris to conserve their energy before breeding in the spring.
This loveable creature's true habitat is woodland but they also love to explore our gardens, which provide shelter, food and potential mates. Hedgehogs are often called 'the gardener's best friend' as they like to feast on pesky slugs. More...
It's the breeding season for hedgehogs, and it's as important as ever to give these loveable creatures a helping hand where possible.
Although their natural habitat is woodland, our urban gardens are also favoured by them due to the plentiful supply of food and shelter. If they are very lucky, someone might have left hedgehog food out for them, too.
Hedgehog Awareness Week is organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) between the 5th and 11th May to highlight the problems hedgehogs face and what we can do to help them. More...
Photo courtesy of Jared Belson
There are about 17 different hedgehog species all over the world. Hedgehogs are commonly found across a number of rural as well as urban habitats and are found in almost all parts of Britain. Woodlands are their natural habitats and they often prefer being near hedgerows which provide them with the ideal place for nesting and also a steady supply of feed and protection from the predators.
Hedgehogs are also frequent visitors to our gardens as these gardens provide them with plenty of food that is naturally available as well as the supplementary supply put out by people. Gardens also provide them with a safe place for nesting and even in certain cases hibernation. This is the main reason why hedgehogs are often found in high numbers in urban areas.
Since hedgehogs are frequent visitors to our gardens, we have introduced new wicker Igloo Houses, especially for these special friends. These houses offer the hedgehogs as well as certain other mammals a safe retreat for nesting and resting, protecting them from hazards such as predators and man-made hazards such as garden machinery etc. These Igloo Houses are dome shaped with a durable and waterproof steel frame coated with brushwood and moss which offers effective camouflage.
Placing these Igloos in sheltered areas with an additional camouflage of twigs etc might ensure that these are used not just for nesting but for hibernation as well. The tiny entrance of the house makes it difficult for the large predators to gain access inside thus making these safe havens for the hedgehogs. These wicker Igloo Houses are the perfect options to lure the hedgehogs to your garden and create a permanent home for them on your property.
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The numbers of hedgehogs have dwindled over the years. This decline over almost a decade is mainly because of the fragmentation of their habitats and difficulty in finding food.
However, small steps on our part will surely make the life of these tiny creatures significantly easy. There are a number of things we can do to help these gardeners' friends. The easiest thing we can do is to provide them with food and clean drinking water when the resources accessible to them are scarce. These resources are scarce mainly in the autumn and early spring.
Hedgehogs usually hibernate during the winter. Before hibernating they need to prepare their body reserves in order to last during the hibernation process. They need to feed well and to weigh at least 600 grams to ensure that they have sufficient fat stores to enter hibernation and last right through it.
Another way of helping hedgehogs is to provide a safe haven for them. A hedgehog house. With these safe retreats the hedgehogs can rest in these houses during the daytime and hibernate in safety.
When they emerge in the spring after hibernation they loose a considerable amount of their body weight. They are at significant risk during this time especially if the spring is cold and wet and there is again a scarcity of natural food around. So yet again providing supplementary food becomes necessary during these times.
Apart from this one can also create gardens that are hedgehog friendly. Making the garden hedgehog friendly could involve small and simple things like covering the drains or holes or even the swimming pools during the night time. You can also place bricks or wooden planks in the ponds to give the hedgehogs an easy way out as most love a dip in the cool water.
Hedgehogs feed on slugs, snails, insects and worms. Making piles of old wood will attract these insects and provide food to the hedgehogs.
These small steps on our part will definitely go a long way in making sure that the hedgehogs are well protected during the harsh times.