In the tranquil retreat of your garden, an assortment of wildlife seeks refuge, plays, and forages. Among these creatures, the humble hedgehog, with its distinctive spiny coat and endearing face, holds a special place in the hearts of many British gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts. However, despite their popularity, hedgehogs are facing a decline, with habitats being threatened by urban expansion, traffic, and lack of food. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to make your garden a haven for these delightful animals.

Provide Easy Access

One of the first steps in making your garden hedgehog-friendly is to ensure these little wanderers can enter and exit without obstruction. Hedgehogs roam extensively in search of food, mates, and nesting sites, often covering more than a mile in a single night.

  • Create Hedgehog Highways: Use our gravel boards with hedgehog hole or cut a 13cm x 13cm (5in x 5in) square hole at the bottom of your garden fence or gate to allow hedgehogs to pass through. Encourage your neighbours to do the same to create a network of gardens for hedgehogs to explore. 

Offer Shelter

Shelter is paramount for hedgehogs, providing them with a safe space to nest, hibernate, and rear their young.

  • Leave Wild Patches: Allowing areas of your garden to grow wild can provide natural nesting materials and cover for hedgehogs. Piles of leaves, logs, and twigs emulate a hedgehog’s natural habitat.
  • Build or Buy a Hedgehog House: There are many varieties of hedgehog houses available to purchase, or you can build your own. Place it in a quiet, sheltered part of the garden, preferably against a fence or wall, and fill it with leaves or hay to encourage hedgehogs to move in.

Supply Food and Water

Providing food and water can be a lifeline for hedgehogs, especially during late summer and autumn when they are building up fat reserves for hibernation, and in spring when they are emerging from their winter sleep.

  • Water: Leave shallow dishes of water out, especially during dry spells. This is vital for hedgehogs’ survival.
  • Food: Offer hedgehog-specific food, chicken-based cat or dog food, or cat biscuits. Avoid bread and milk, as they can cause digestive issues. Feeding them at dusk is best.

Create a Safe Environment

Whilst making your garden inviting, it's equally important to ensure it’s a safe habitat for hedgehogs.

  • Check for Hedgehogs: Before using strimmers or mowers, check for hedgehogs hiding in the undergrowth. Similarly, inspect piles of rubbish or bonfires for sleeping hedgehogs before burning.
  • Limit Chemical Use: Reduce the use of pesticides and slug pellets in your garden. They can poison hedgehogs and reduce their food sources. Encouraging natural predators like hedgehogs is a better solution for pest control.
  • Keep Netting and Litter Away: Garden netting, plastics, and litter can trap and harm hedgehogs. Keep netting raised off the ground and dispose of litter securely.

Foster a Diverse Ecosystem

Finally, fostering a broader ecosystem in your garden supports hedgehogs indirectly by ensuring a steady food supply.

  • Encourage Invertebrates: Insects, worms, and other small creatures are the mainstay of a hedgehog’s diet. By planting a mix of native shrubberies, flowers, and leaving areas of the garden untended, you can attract a healthy population of these invertebrates.

In Conclusion

Making your garden hedgehog-friendly not only aids in the conservation of these charming creatures but enriches your garden ecosystem, making it a bustling hub of wildlife activity. By opening up your garden to hedgehogs, providing them with food, water, and shelter, and ensuring their safety, you play a vital role in safeguarding the future of one of Britain’s most beloved mammals. Plus, there’s nothing quite as rewarding as watching a hedgehog meander through your garden, knowing it's a safe haven for them.