Hedgehogs are one our most charismatic species of mammal – who doesn’t love those cute bundles of spines and little black snout rustling through the undergrowth!
At this time of year, when the leaves are falling and the seasons are turning, hedgehogs start to see a nice warm, safe place to hibernate over winter, and will also be searching for food to feed themselves up before they go to sleep.
If you want to help hedgehogs in your local area, there are plenty of things you can do in your own garden or school grounds. Here are some great ideas.
Helpful hedgehog dos and don’ts
- DO make a log pile – these are great for all wildlife, not just hedgehogs. Not only are they a good place to hide, they are also perfect for insects, the hedgehogs favourite food.
- DO make a leaf pile – those lovely crispy autumn leaves are perfect for a hibernating hedgehog, so pile some up in a safe, quiet corner of the garden and leave them be.
- DO check bonfires before lighting them – although autumn bonfires are fun at this time of year, hedgehogs can often crawl their way into the piles of wood and leaves thinking they’ll be a good place to hibernate. Make sure you check bonfires carefully before lighting them, especially if they’ve been left over night or for a few days.
- DON’T give them milk – it can make them ill! Instead, leave them out some clean, fresh water.
- DO think about buying or even making a hedgehog house! St Tiggywinkles, the hedgehog charity, has a downloadable guide to making one.
- DON’T leave out bread – instead, you can either buy specialist hedgehog food from garden centres and wild bird food suppliers OR fresh dog or cat food (not fish-based), crushed cat biscuits or chopped boiled eggs.
- DO cover drains and holes – this will prevent hedgehogs falling in or getting trapped.
- DON’T use slug pellets – if you can avoid it! This is because they can poison hedgehogs. Try a natural alternative.
More info and advice
There are plenty of organisations and charities out there who have great advice.
St Tiggywinkles is a wildlife hospital that has a lot of expertise and advice about hedgehogs, how to help them in the winter and what to do if you find one that might be ill or injured.
Hedgehog Street is a brand new website with loads of information on how to help hedgehogs, plus you’ll be able to record any hedgehogs you have living near you so researchers can work out how hedgehogs in the UK are doing.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) also has some great advice!