Gardening: Some of the dos and don't of helping hedgehogs to hibernate peacefully
HOW can gardeners help hedgehogs hibernate? Here are some of the dos and don'ts of giving our prickly friends a helping hand...
1. Create a hedgehog highway
Put a hole in or under your fence and ask your neighbours to do the same to create a hedgehog highway. It means the creatures will be able to roam further to forage for food, water and shelter.
2. Make sure they have plenty of food and water
Put out supplementary food to help recovering mothers and underweight yearlings fatten up. You could try using hedgehog food, or a meaty dog/cat food and a bowl of water. Hedgehogs can remain active well into November and December (they usually hibernate from October/November to March/April), and will often move nesting sites during hibernation. A bowl of fresh water will be appreciated by any hog out and about.
3. Ensure they have a nesting place
Create a hedgehog house or leave part of your garden wild as a nesting area (with leaf piles, etc.)
1. Start a bonfire without checking
Piles of leaves and sticks offer a perfect nest for hedgehogs, so have a good rummage under your debris for your prickly friends before lighting a bonfire.
2. Use slug pellets
Try to use a natural alternative instead of pesticides in your garden as not only will they reduce the number of insects available for hedgehogs to eat, they might make hedgehogs very ill, or even kill them.
3. Tidy up too much
Leave an area of your garden to go wild – brambles, log piles, leaf piles and long grass or scrub are all perfect places for hedgehogs to make cosy a hibernation nest.
Try also to avoid using a strimmer unless you have to. Hedgehogs are often hiding in long grass or brush and their natural defence mechanism is to curl into a ball – which isn't much protection against machinery. Check all long grass or vegetation carefully before mowing or strimming.