Hedgehogs are cute nocturnal mammals and about seventeen species can be found around the globe. In Britain the number of hedgehogs has declined significantly and it is our duty to help. Here’s how:
You can start by creating a wild corner in your garden. You can do this by allowing grass to grow bigger in one part of your garden. You can even plant some wildflowers and leave them in over winter as this will be a great place for insects to hide and a dedicated place for hedgehogs to find food. Make sure you don’t spray your garden with chemicals as this affects hedgehogs. If space allows it plant a tree, ideally an oak, beech or lime tree because their leaves are perfect for hedgehogs to built nests. You can also help them with this by building a hedgehog house. Tiggywinkles offers a step by step guide on how to build one.
You can tell if you have hedgehogs visiting your garden by looking for tracks, small prints, noise (huffing, wheezing or snuffling) and droppings (usually dark and can reach 5 centimeters long).
So which hedgehogs need special help?
Never pick up a healthy hedgehog, unless you find it in a dangerous area, anywhere near cars for example. The hedgehogs who need help are the injured ones, the orphans, and the underweight ones. They are nocturnal animals and they sleep in their nests during the day so if you find a hedgehog during the day it means that he is likely having some sort of trouble. Also hedgehogs hibernate during the winter so if you find one out in the cold season, give the little one some help. Call a local wildlife hospital or the British Hedgehog Preservation Society at 01584 890801. If you find out that the problem is not grave and you can take care of your spiny new friend yourself here is what you should do:
Make a nest for them in a box (preferably a spacious one if you will have to keep it over winter, because they need to move and exercise their muscles to be in shape when you release them). Put a tea towel that the little animal can hide underneath, place a water bowl inside, wet dog or cat food for a meal and dry food for a snack. Don’t give them bread, milk, raisins and any type of food rich in sugars and salt. If the hedgehog is cold, place a hot water bottle in the box with a few more towels to keep warm.
Hedgehogs need to weigh at least 600 grams for hibernation. If they weigh less it means they are not ready and you have to keep them in a warm place to prevent hibernation so they can eat and reach a normal weight. However, overweight hedgehogs will not be able to curl and defend themselves so don’t give them too much to eat!
You can also find more details at St Tiggywinkles.
Take care of your spiny friends!
by student blogger, Irina Cristache