Help the hog
Hedgehogs are struggling. Their numbers have fallen below one million in the UK – down by 30% in just over ten years.
We can make big differences in our gardens through doing simple things. There are 15 million gardens in the UK, covering about 270,000 hectares – more than the area of all the National Nature Reserves. Together they can make a crucial difference to hedgehogs.
If you have a garden, you can help the hog.
How you can help hedgehogs
Create your own hedgehog highway
To save the hedgehog we need people to work together with neighbours to make small changes that will make a big difference. This is crucial because no garden or green space can help hedgehogs in isolation, but when they are linked together hedgehogs can thrive in any location.
Hedgehogs need to be able to roam far and wide in search of food, mates and nesting sites. Get together with your neighbours to cut a 13cm x 13cm (5in) hole in your fence or dig a channel beneath garden boundaries to connect your gardens.
Create your own hedgehog highway!
Avoid the use of pesticides
Ditch the slug pellets and avoid the use of pesticides. Hedgehogs are natural “pest” controllers and need a plentiful and varied supply of invertebrate prey to stay healthy.
Make water safe
Hedgehogs are great swimmers but can sometimes struggle to climb out of steep-sided ponds and many drown. Provide a ramp from a plank wrapped in chicken wire or create shallow areas at the edge so they can scramble out.
Provide nesting sites
Log and leaf piles, wilderness areas and purpose-built hedgehog homes make great places for hedgehogs to nest and hibernate.
Fallen leaves also make the perfect nesting material, so make sure you don’t clear all of these away.
Grow a wide variety of plants
Attract plenty of natural hedgehog food by keeping your garden diverse with a wide variety of habitats e.g. ponds, log piles, hedges, and a wide range of plant types. Don’t be afraid to let your grass grow a little wild and leave some leaf litter – as both are important homes for the hedgehog’s prey.
Be aware of dangers
Check for hidden hedgehogs before lighting bonfires, strimming and mowing the lawn. Keep plant netting, tennis nets and household rubbish above ground level to prevent entanglement.
If you do have ‘hogs in your garden, you could set up a feeding station by cutting a hole in a plastic storagebox and weighing down the lid with bricks: this will stop cats and foxes taking the food.
If you are worried about rats, don’t put out grain-based foods on the floor. Take in any excess food when your hedgehogs have been for a visit. Keep an eye out for people doing work on their gardens, or using fencing contractors - this is a prime time to get a hedgehog hole put in and create connectivity.