As the leaves begin to fall, what can we do to help our hedgehogs?

From our Hedgehog enthusiast Chris Lassam

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There are lots of ways you can help hedgehogs at this time of year as they’re trying to bulk up in time for hibernation over the cold winter months.

Check out our free A-Z guide for helping hedgehogs this Autumn, with tips on how to danger-proof your garden and encourage happy hedgehogs to come and rest over those cold wintery months.

Our top tips:

  • Leave some leaves. Decay processes support the fungi and bacteria which underpin the garden ecosystem. More rotting leaves = more insects = more hedgehog food.
  • Sort, don’t burn. Burning everything is a waste. Sort your woody debris from leaves and shoots. Pile the former in a corner of the garden, the latter can go into the compost heap. The result: less pollution, more nesting opportunities for hedgehogs.

Plant a fruit tree. Apples, pears or cherries all produce fruit which encourages insects, and they have the right type of leaves for hedgehog hibernation nests.

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Wondering what plants/trees are good for hedgehogs? 

There are several varieties that hedgehogs can benefit from, including these:

  • Cherry (try varieties ‘Stella’ or ‘Sunburst’). A good urban tree: pick the right rootstock and it will fit in any sized garden. The leaves are the right size for hedgehogs to make their hibernation nests from so this will provide a ready natural source of bedding.
  • Thyme. Plant this between the cracks in your patio or in the sunny edge of a bed.  Aside from being great for cooking, it is the food plant for several moth species = caterpillars = hedgehog food.
  • Willow. One of the best plants for encouraging insects, it ranks up there with the mighty oak. For smaller gardens consider growing a willow structure or maintaining as a coppiced plant to keep in check.
  • Bird’s-foot-trefoil. This legume is the food plant for the common blue butterfly (and five others), and is also very attractive to flying insects when in flower. Does well in a perennial wildflower mix.
  • Honeysuckle. Aside from the glorious nectar-rich flowers, this plant keeps its structure during winter which makes it attractive as a nest site. Grow it over your log pile to maximise the potential of this feature.

Good luck and remember to always think of our hedgehogs when pottering around in the garden.

P.S. Having a bonfire? Always remember to check it for hedgehogs before burning.

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