We LOVE hedgehogs! Who doesn’t?! In fact, in our recent poll we ran on Twitter, our lovely followers told us that hedgehogs are their favourite wild British animal!
At Compassion Collective HQ in the New Forest we are lucky we have at least one hedgehog living under our garden shed. Sadly, our British hedgehog populations are under threat. This time of year as we celebrate old hallow’s eve and gather around our bonfires while our little hogs get ready to tuck themselves away for hibernation, there are lots of things you can do to help these gorgeous creatures through the Autumn and Winter…
Remember Remember… to check bonfires for wildlife
The Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations are in full swing and fireworks seem to go on and on way before and after 5th November these days. Not only can this literally freak out our pets – so best to keep cats and dogs (and rabbits etc too if possible) shut safely indoors during the evenings – but hedgehogs, as well as other little critters like frogs, toads, slow worms and even sleepy bumble bees, love to snuggle under piles of twigs and may think your bonfire is a new nice cozy home! So…
Please ALWAYS check bonfires for wildlife thoroughly just before lighting, and if possible, build your bonfire as close to the time or at least the day of lighting as possible.
Top 5 Hedgehog facts!
Here’s some hedgehog facts you may not know and a few ways you can help them…
Hedgehog Fact 1
The West European hedgehog is a distant relative of the shrew, and they have changed little in the past 15 million years. British hedgehogs live in a wide range of rural and urban habitats including our gardens, and are often called the ‘Gardeners friend’ as they eat mostly slugs.
Hedgehog Fact 2
As many as 10 different hedgehogs may visit one garden over several nights, which could mean ‘your hedgehog’ is a number of different individuals visiting at different times.
Hedgehog Fact 3
According to the Dorset Mammal Group, hedgehogs travel around one mile every night through our parks and gardens in their quest to find enough food and a mate.
Hedgehog Fact 4
Hedgehogs usually hibernate between November and mid March and they must have enough fat reserves to survive hibernation. Making hedgehog homes in your garden and providing food will help small juvenile hedgehogs especially, to survive the winter.
Hedgehog Fact 5
The use of pesticides and growth of intensive farming, with larger fields and the loss of hedgerows and permanent grassland, has caused a decline in the population of our British hedgehogs. That’s why it is really important that gardeners think more about giving them a helping hand and suitable habitat (stop being so tidy for starters – wild gardens are much more fun!!!). Read on for more gardeners tips below…
How to make your garden a hedgehog safe haven
- Leave areas of the garden ‘wild’, with piles of leaf litter and logs. Or buy a purpose built hedgehog house.
- Food and fresh water will encourage hedgehogs to return. Leave out foods like minced meat, tinned dog or cat food (but NOT fish-based as hedgehogs cannot digest fish), crushed cat biscuits, or chopped boiled eggs (free range of course!). Specialist hedgehog food can also be bought from wild bird food suppliers. We should add though our understanding is that the wildlife in our gardens can become dependent on the food you leave for them, so if you are going to feed them do it either occasionally so there is no pattern, or commit to doing it everyday.
- NEVER FEED HEDGEHOGS MILK as it can cause diarrhoea and dehydration and even kill them. Instead provide plain, fresh water in a shallow bowl. (It’s very cute when you catch them at night drinking from a bowl! We fill up the large dishes that our pot plants sit in, which our frogs like to wallow in as well).
- Check for hedgehogs before using strimmers or mowers, particularly under hedges where animals may rest.
- Check compost heaps for nesting hogs before forking over.
- Cover drains and holes and place bricks at the side of ponds to give hedgehogs an easy route out if they fall in. Cover swimming pools overnight and when not in use.
- Remove sports or fruit netting when not in use to prevent hedgehogs becoming entangled, and getting injured.
- NEVER USE SLUG PELLETS which can kill hedgehogs, as well as other animals and birds. Try using beer traps or sprinkling ground up shells around the plants you need to protect. If you have to use pellets, place them under a slate which is definitely inaccessible to hedgehogs.
- Come Spring, if you have an enclosed garden you might be getting in the way of hedgehog’s plans to find food and a mate. Make their life a little easier by removing the barriers within your control – for example, by making holes in or under your garden fences, walls and gates for them to pass through. The gap need only be around 15cm in diameter and so should not affect the safety of any pets. If you plant a hedge rather than build a wall or fence, you can provide shelter, food and access all in one!
- If you find an injured or sick hedgehog or an orphaned young hedgehog especially during the Winter when they should be hibernating, contact your local animal rescue or the RSPCA via: www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/injuredanimals
Art for wildlife lovers
Our little autumnal hedgehog above (left) was originally created for Resurgence Magazine on an issue about Animals and Ethics. It was inspired by the poem ‘Luv Song’ by renowned contemporary British poet Benjamin Zephaniah who approved of this picture by commenting “That hedgehog is cool!” which we were extremely chuffed about!
Smaller Giclée prints are also now available in time for Christmas (dare we mention it?!!!).
Our Born to Roam Wild prints, cards and t-shirts also feature a hog – see if you can spot one hibernating in our new xmas card ‘Born to Roam Wild in Winter’ (also available as a limited edition print)!
It only remains for us to say Happy Halloween and enjoy the fireworks!