Wildlife of the Month - October
It is believed that 15 MILLION years ago hedgehogs evolved on our planet! Which makes it even more tragic that they are now struggling. The sad news is their numbers have fallen below one million in the UK – down by 30% in just over ten years. They are now officially classified as vulnerable to extinction!
The good news is we can all make a difference to help these captivating creatures…
Any piles that you have been making will easily attract hedgehogs (and other mammals) as somewhere to lay their heads for their winter sleep. Many are lost every year so please move any piles just before burning to ensure there are no sleepy residents.
· Leaf Piles
Instead of clearing the garden of winter leaves, leave a corner with leaves and log piles for them to use.
Hedgehogs hibernate over winter generally from November to April, although it is flexible depending on temperatures and they will only begin to hibernate when it is consistently below 10 degrees. It is not unusual for hedgehogs to be active when there is milder weather. Which brings me to food and water…
Encouraging insects to your garden is the best food you can provide - log piles, garden compost, nectar rich flowers all encourage worms, beetles, caterpillars, and earwigs for hedgehogs to munch on. If you leave food out for them during Spring and Summer, continue to leave out dry biscuits and water for any hogs that wake during winter. This will help ensure their fat reserves are built up. If they do not have enough reserves to keep them going, they may not even be able to wake from hibernation!
A shallow dish of fresh water should be left out all year round. If you have a pond always make sure there is a way for hedgehogs/small mammals to climb out.
· Autumn Juveniles
The winter months can be a huge problem for babies born late season. If you see a small hedgehog out during Autumn and Winter intervention is likely required so they survive. If in doubt, contact the local rescues who do an amazing job 365 days a year – they will then advise what to do.
A hedgehog highway through gardens is crucial. It makes a huge difference if you can make a 13cm/5inch hole in your gate or fence to connect to your neighbours.
Hedgehog rescues do an amazing job and are inundated every year. Suffolk Hedgehog Hospital, based in Ousden, treated 300 hedgehogs over a 12-week period! Ranging from poorly adults and injuries to tiny hoglets that need feeding every two hours, 24/7. Please do what you can to support them. www.suffolkhedgehoghospital.com
Photos courtesy of Suffolk Hedgehog Hospital, registered charity: 1190795