Want to make your garden feel more like home for hedgehogs? We don’t blame you!
Hedgehogs are incredibly cute – there’s no denying that. But they’re also pretty good at eating the worms and slugs in your garden. With their numbers dwindling in the UK it’s so important to help them out wherever possible – which is why we’ve put together some handy tips to making your garden a safer place.
Leave out water and the right food
They’re lactose intolerant so they can’t digest milk – which is why fresh water is the best option. In terms of food, any of the following is great:
- Dry puppy or kitten food – meaty flavours only.
- Plain cooked meats – as long as it’s unprocessed and unflavoured, it’s fine for hedgehogs. But if you really want them to love you, chicken is always a firm favourite!
- Chopped peanuts – opt for the ones you’d feed birds. Nice and plain!
- Eggs – surprisingly, hedgehogs can’t get enough of hard-boiled or scrambled eggs. Just keep them plain if you scramble them.
- Raisins/sultanas – Even hedgehogs like a sweet treat every now and then!
- Specialist hedgehog food – filled with all the food hedgehogs can’t get enough of, you can buy this online or in good pet stores.
Use alternatives to pesticides and slug pellets
Not surprisingly, they can be pretty harmful to our spiky little friends. Instead of risking them eating a pellet or a poisoned slug and getting ill, why not try using an alternative instead? You can:
- Wrap copper bands around the bottom of your plants to ward off slugs and some bugs
- Sprinkle coffee grounds around your plants. Turns out slugs aren’t a fan of them!
- Put bowls of stale beer into the ground.
Slow down when you mow
It’s so easy to ‘forget’ to mow your lawn or put it off for another day. The trouble with that is by the time you do get round to it, it can be a little longer than you’d like. Now, whilst it might be longer than you’d like, hedgehogs love long grass. It makes for a perfect place to stop and have a rest or make a home. As you can imagine, the last thing they want is a lawnmower to come and scare them. So before you get the lawnmower out, do a quick hedgehog check.
Talking of hedgehog checks…
They love compost heaps and bonfires. To us, a compost heap is a pile of rotting waste but to a hedgehog… well, it’s perfect. It’s cosy, they can tuck themselves away, and the best part (for them) is that it’s full of worms and other creepy crawlies. They can literally have breakfast in bed. So before you go adding lots to your compost, or if you’re planning on moving it, just make sure there aren’t any cute hedgies having a snooze. Now bonfires aren’t necessarily an every day activity but that doesn’t stop hedgehogs from crawling in when they spot them. So to make sure they don’t get trapped in your bonfire, build it on the day you plan to light it (or completely move it to another location before lighting), giving them less time to sneak their way in. And if you light it from one side, any sneaky little hogs that got in have time to get out.
Pick it up
By this, of course, we mean rubbish. I’m sure your garden is kept nice and tidy and you’d never drop rubbish in it. But sometimes a gust of wind can bring stuff in or your postman accidentally drops an elastic band without realising. The trouble with this is that certain things, like elastic bands or plastic rings that come off packs of drinks, can be pretty dangerous for our spiky friends. So if you do ever spot something like this, just pick it up and pop it in the bin.
Put a roof over their head
The best way to keep your hedgehogs safe from any predators is to build them their very own little hedgehog house – you can find lots of examples online. However, if you’re not so good at DIY (and, let’s face it, a lot of us aren’t), you can always order one online. You can also leave piles of twigs and dead leaves lying around for them to hide in – this essentially means just being a little untidy – wildlife gardening made easy!
Follow these simple tips and you’ll be well on your way to making your garden the perfect home for a family of hedgehogs.
This article was kindly written by Vine House Farm (http://www.vinehousefarm.co.uk) who sell wild bird food direct from a conservation award winning farm. If you’d like to write an article for us, get in touch!