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.

Liquid refreshment for Hedgehogs

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Please leave water out for the hedgehogs

 

In this hot weather it is especially important to leave water out day and night.

A thirsty hog may come out during the day and it could be a life saver.

Shallow plant saucers are ideal and try to leave them dotted around the garden not too far from cover and ideally in the shade. 8 inches across or larger are best – hogs are very good at tipping the smaller ones over!

Make sure they are not so deep that a hoglet could get trapped.

 

Last Minute addition to Agenda for Hedgehogs and Rats

If the preservation of Hedgehogs or the elimination of Rats is of interest to you you may like to make a note in your diary. Following the decision of the Chandler’s Ford and Hiltingbury Local Area Committee meeting to refer the motions about Rats and Hedgehogs  to the Eastleigh Borough Council Cabinet for resolution you may be interested to know that the public can attend and speak at these council meetings.

The Cabinet meeting is on Thursday 14th June at 18:30 at Eastleigh House.  The public can speak to any item on the agenda when that item is reached. Members of the public can also speak on any item not on the agenda at the start of the meeting provided they’ve let the attendant officer know they wish to speak before the meeting starts. The Hedgehogs and Rats are to be Item 7 on the revised agenda. Apparently Cabinet meetings are usually ‘very brisk’ and Item 7 should be reached quite quickly.

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HEDGEHOG AWARENESS WEEK

2 HHog 20170810 112957 RCB.jpgComing up in May is: Hedgehog Awareness Week: 6 – 12 May 2018:

https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/hedgehog-awareness-week-runs-6th-12th-may-2018/

Hedgehogs are under threat: Numbers have fallen sharply in the last ten years and there are thought to be fewer than one million Hedgehogs left in the UK.

So how can we help our local hedgehogs?

On the roads: Slow down where hedgehogs might cross: near hedges or grass at dusk and after dark.

Last year several hedgehogs were killed in Hursley Road and North Millers Dale. If safe, stop and help them to get across. Hedgehogs natural defence mechanism is to roll up into a ball – no protection against Road Traffic.

On pathways & shared spaces we can pick up rubbish: plastic bags; Plastic beer can rings; rubber bands & hair bands are the most dangerous for Hedgehogs as their spines get trapped in them.

4 HHog 20170807 220234 RCB.jpgMake our gardens more accessible for Hedgehogs

North Millers Dale is already a good place for hedgehogs as we have pathways where cars can’t go.

Adult hedgehogs travel over a mile at night ranging over entire neighbourhoods looking for food.

We can help them by providing more gaps under fences and gates:

A 13 cm x 13cm hole is all they need: See: hedgehogstreet.org.

By giving Hedgehogs better access to our gardens we can provide the safe habitat and food source that they desperately need – giving Hedgehogs a better chance of survival in North Millers Dale. Hedgehogs are good for the garden and with extra encouragement we might be lucky enough to see more of them.

Make our gardens safer for Hedgehogs

  • Store garden netting indoors. It is dangerous for hedgehogs as they get their
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    This hedgehog was lucky he was found before the bag got him

    spines caught and become trapped.

  • Ponds: Hedgehogs can swim but they need an escape route [like a plank] to climb back out
  • Cover drains and gullies: Hedgehogs have poor eyesight but are curious – they fall into holes and get stuck
  • Say no to slug pellets and weedkillers: common sources of poisoning for Hedgehogs and pets. Insect-rich lawns and flowerbeds make excellent feeding grounds at dusk.Hedgehogs hoover up over 100 invertebrates: snails, slugs & beetles every night.
  • Check for Hedgehogs in long grass before strimming and mowing or better still, leave some grass long for the insects.
  • Check compost heaps and bonfires for hedgehogs before digging in a fork or setting alight.

1 HHog 20170810 103005 RCBMake our gardens more Hedgehog friendly:

  • Provide shallow bowls of fresh water – not milk as Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant.
  • Attract natural hedgehog food. Hedgehogs particularly like big, crunchy beetles, earthworms and slugs, making them a gardener’s best friend. Leaf piles will encourage earthworms & create better soil. Wood piles provide good habitats for beetles and insects.
  • Hedgehogs are creatures of habit so if you see hedgehogs in your garden the chances are you will see them the same time the next evening.
  • Hedgehog food: Offer cat or dog meat but not fish based. Put it out at dusk & take in the excess.

Pets Corner near Waitrose sell Hedgehog food. If you are worried about rats, don’t put out grain-based foods.

 

What to do if you find a sick or injured hedgehog: If you see a Hedgehog out during the day they are probably unwell or underweight, offer food and water. Hedgehogs need to weigh 600grams to hibernate safely. Contact your local Vet or Rescue Centre for advice before intervening or The British Hedgehog Preservation Society: Telephone: 01584 890 801 Website: https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk

No single garden is large enough for a hedgehog population, and no single garden can offer everything they need. Think of your garden as part of a local network: https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/about-our-hedgehog-street-campaign/

 

Wildlife Trusts: Helping hedgehogs around the UK:

Small, round, brown and famously covered in spines, the hedgehog was one of the most familiar of Britain’s wild mammals. http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/hedgehogs

 

Order a hedgehog crossing from the British Hedgehog Association.

It is 14 inches across the diagonal

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https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/shop/product/hedgehog-crossingsign/