Hedgehog numbers in Britain have been declining for many years. This is predominantly due to loss of habitat, crucially woodlands and hedgerows.
This has meant that gardens are becoming increasingly important for the species survival. Here are some ways in which you can help do your bit for our spiky slug eating friends.
If you have already taken smaller measures but you are keen to do everything you can to attract animals, there are more substantial measures that we can take that will take your wildlife to the next level.
Make sure that your garden is accessible. The average hedgehog travels around 2km every night in search of enough food to sustain them during the hibernation period (November to March). Fenced gardens are an impenetrable obstacle and severely segment the hedgehogs habitat. Try talking to your neighbours and seeing if they mind you creating a few hedgehog sized holes on each of your perimeter fence lines, maybe even ask if they mind talking to the neighbours on the other side (The more gardens linked the better!).
In the absence of a pond, having a small dish of water will also work well. If you have an unused bit of garden, perhaps behind the shed or at the back of a plant bed, try making a small hibernation spot. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just some old logs, twigs and leaves with a small area left inside where they can build a den.
If you don’t fancy building your own, there are hedgehog houses available from garden centres or online. These holes can be made in discreet places such as behind the shed or can be easily hidden from view with a carefully placed plant or pot. These holes don’t need to be very large (13cm or 5inches is enough) so you don’t have to worry about the dog getting out. Hedgehogs often drink from garden ponds but have been known to fall in due to their small legs.
Make sure that if you have a pond that it has a shallow end or strategically place a piece of driftwood or a rock to allow an escape route. Make sure not to use chemical products to kill slugs as this can be fatal to hedgehogs. If you make your garden appealing enough for hedgehogs to make it their home, they will take care of the slug problem for you!