These endearing and fascinating nocturnal creatures are one of the most recognisable of our wild mammals but numbers have unfortunately declined dramatically over the last few years as they struggle to cope in our modern world.
In Risby, we appear to have a thriving population, but with the various man-made hazards they now face, they still need as much help as possible. Small things can make a big difference, so here are a few things we can do: Photo Courtesy of Vale Wildlife
· Hedgehogs travel up to 2 miles a night, so if you can create a Hedgehog Highway to allow them access through your garden this helps them avoid busy roads. Perhaps you can remove a brick from the bottom of a garden wall; cut a CD-sized hole in your fence, if there are no gaps, or dig a channel underneath your wall or fence.
· Leave a heavy based, low sided dish of fresh water as they can become severely dehydrated. You can go one step further and leave out another dish with specific hedgehog food or dry cat biscuits - they are particularly fond of Tesco Kitten biscuits!
· They are lactose intolerant so please NEVER feed milk and avoid bread, mealworms, whole peanuts, sunflower seeds, currants etc. These are of NO nutritional value and/or can cause major health problems.
· If you have a pool or pond, please make sure there are slipways for wildlife to use to climb out - eg. bricks at the edge; chicken wire for them to scramble up.
· Every year rescues see horrific injuries caused by strimmers as hedgehogs love curling up in long grass and garden debris to sleep during the day. It doesn’t take long to quickly check the area you are about to strim and therefore potentially save a life.
· Avoid garden netting where possible and always tidy away when not in use as they easily get tangled. This also applies to sports netting.
· NEVER use poison, slug pellets or harmful insecticides as these kill a large number each year.
· ALWAYS check a bonfire/leaf pile before you light a fire. These are unfortunately favourite nesting areas for our prickly friends and another cause of many death each year.
· Leave part of your garden to grow wild, allowing longer grass and woodpiles near hedges.
If you see a hedgehog out ‘sunbathing’ during the day, they are more than likely to be poorly, usually dehydrated and need to be taken to a local vets asap. Most vets will take in wildlife and usually treat for free to then pass on to a rescue. The ONLY time it is ok to see them out in daylight is if it is a mother making a nest or looking for food for her hoglets. Her movements will then be purposeful and ‘busy’.
Let’s give them as much of a helping hand as we can!