Hedgehog_season_garden_preparation_EssexMums

Teach Kids About Wildlife: A Hedgehog Guide for Families

Hedgehogs are one of Britain’s favourite familiar faces found in our gardens, parks, and farmland. Although these adorable little creatures seem to be everywhere, due to a decline in rural habitats almost one third of the national hedgehog population has been lost since the 2000’s. 

That’s why we must do everything we can to protect the hedgehogs, and one way we can do that is by turning our gardens into hedgehogs’ favourite spaces to be.

As we slowly transition into Spring, wildlife experts and lovers, Green Feathers have put together a handy guide on how to prepare your garden for the best time of year, hedgehog season. 

Hedgehog season

Hedgehog season (or mating season) is the most crucial time for hedgehogs. It begins in April, and can last all the way to September, although peak breeding months are in May and June. 

Usually, a female will be met by seven hoglets, who will nest all together in a layer of leaves and grass, until the hoglets leave the nest four to five weeks after being born. Throughout this season and especially up until this point, try to keep leafy and unkept areas of your garden as undisturbed as possible. 

Hedgehog highways

The first step to creating a hedgehog-friendly garden this Spring is to embrace the open road by creating a hedgehog highway. They are nomadic creatures and can roam up to two miles every night. However, one reason their numbers are declining is due to the reduction in access they have to land. By creating a hedgehog highway, or a small gap in your fencing to allow them to pass through, your hedgehog can roam far and wide. This gap should be around 13 square centimetres, perfect for hedgehogs, but not for the larger mammals you want to keep out! 

Going wild

Despite their innocent faces, hedgehogs are carnivorous animals and roam at night in the search for small insects such as beetles, worms, slugs, earwigs, and millipedes. Sometimes they’ll even eat baby birds, frogs, snakes, bird’s eggs – and for dessert – garden fruit. 

The best way to bring insects into your garden is by keeping your garden healthy and bio-diverse through letting it grow wild. To do this you can: 

  • Start by growing insect friendly plants and wildflowers such as foxgloves, and hawthorn.
  • Avoid cutting the grass, and keep parts of your garden unkept and wild in patches.
  • Create a compost heap to create the perfect environment for worms, slugs, millipedes, and beetles.
  • Start a bug hotel to attract a diverse amount of bugs into your garden.

Do the rounds 

Before the start of the season, do the rounds and rid your garden of any potential hedgehog hazards. Check for the following potential hazards which you can tick off your list one by one:

  • Avoid man-made dangers or anything a hedgehog could get trapped in or fall into.
  • Don’t use any pesticides.
  • Don’t put down any slug pellets.
  • Although hedgehogs are keen swimmers, hedgehog-proof garden ponds and swimming pools by fencing them off, or creating sloping sides so that they can easily get in and out.
  • Clear your garden of any nets, traps, and toys. 

From house to home

Planting hedges can be a great alternative to fencing. Not only do they provide more shade, absorb noise and dust, they also provide better shelter to all forms of garden wildlife. They can promote better soil, attract insects, and usually allow for leaves to gather at their sides which provide a great nestling spot.

Another great way to provide a cosy home for these animals is to place a wooden hedgehog house in the garden. They provide safe, robust, and secure shelter where they can hunker down for winter or get ready for mating season. 

Mindful Maintenance  

Once you have prepared your garden for hedgehog season, remember a little bit of maintenance goes a long way. Keep pruning and gardening to a minimum, and keep the lawnmower and strimmer locked away in the garden shed. Try to disturb them as little as possible by doing your bit to keep nature thriving. 

To give a helping hand here and there, you can put out small bowls of water for easy drinking access and small portions of meaty cat or dog food in the evening to make sure they’re well fed and hydrated. Better yet, set up a wooden hedgehog feeding station which keeps the food safe and hidden from other animals – perfect for a night in and meal for one! 

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