How you can protect the prickly guests in your garden
The humble hedgehog is one of Britain’s favourite mammals, and for good reason! These much-loved mammals are famed for their gentle nature, snuffling their way through the undergrowth or leaf piles in our gardens on their quest for food and shelter. Alarmingly, though, hedgehogs are now on the UK Red List of endangered species, with numbers down 50% since the turn of the century. A recent report published by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) found that this scary statistic could even be as high as 75% in some areas of the country!
Wildlife specialist, Vivara, is on a mission to help save Britain’s hedgehogs, and with Hedgehog Awareness Week around the corner, its experts are sharing some simple steps to make your garden more hedgehog-friendly.
Provide prickle-safe shelter
With many UK gardens now perfectly landscaped, it can be difficult for hedgehogs to find a safe space to rest and rear their young. A hedgehog house is a great investment for your garden, providing refuge during the long winter months for hibernation and a quiet corner to breed during the summer.
Vivara’s Hedgehog Baskets are available in a variety of sizes and shapes to suit your space, and importantly, each hedgehog house is lined with plastic to prevent the prickly creatures from getting their spikes caught on the inside.
Simply line your hedgehog house with loose leaves and some Hedgehog Bedding to make a cosy, warm habitat for them. Cover the basket with a thick layer of leaves, branches and other natural material, making sure that the opening is left clear, and place it somewhere quiet in your garden. Just make sure it’s not facing north or north-east to protect them from chilly winds!
Offer a hedgehog-friendly feast
After emerging in the spring from months of hibernation, hedgehogs are on the hunt for food as their fat reserves will be running low. A hedgehog will wander between 3km and 5km in search of food each night, so it’s important to offer your prickly garden guests something to eat and drink.
During summer, it’s especially important that hedgehogs are well-fed, to keep them healthy during breeding, feed their young and help them gain extra weight to see them through hibernation.
Putting out supplementary food in your garden means that they don’t have to roam for miles each night in search of food sources, which can be scarce in urban environments.
Vivara’s Organic Pate for Hedgehogs is a tasty, moisture-rich food containing organic meat which mimics their natural diet – simply remove the foil lid and serve! Put the food in a container along the hedgehog’s walking route and it will soon be gobbled up! Use a container like Vivara’s Hedgehog Feeding Bowl, which features recesses along the rim to allow the hedgehog to easily enjoy its meal. Don’t forget a bowl of clean water, too!
Build a hedgehog highway
Sadly, many of our gardens are now inaccessible to hedgehogs, particularly if you live in a new build or urban area where your garden is completely enclosed by fences. Accessibility in and out of your garden is crucial, as this lack of connectivity makes it extremely difficult for these small mammals to find food, shelter and mates. So, creating a hedgehog highway is one of the most important things you can do!
It only takes a small gap through to your neighbours to give hedgehogs free passage, and it’s easier than you think to create. Simply cut a hole approximately 13cm by 13cm at the bottom of a fence panel and sand down the edges, or dig a hole in the earth where your fence meets the ground to allow them to pass underneath. Why not team up with the other families on your road to create a full hedgehog highway for the small, prickly residents in your neighbourhood to pass through gardens with ease.
Join Vivara on its mission to help save Britain’s hedgehogs and bring wildlife back into all kinds of environments. Vivara provides a range of ideas and solutions to help create more habitats and food for all kinds of creatures, from hedgehogs and birds to bees and butterflies.
For more information and to check out Vivara’s full range of hedgehog products, visit www.vivara.co.uk.