How to attract hedgehogs to your garden
Hedgehog numbers have been dwindling in the UK for some time, but making our gardens a little more hedgehog friendly can help.
Shannen Godwin, spokesperson for plant company J Parker’s, points out that over half of the hedgehogs in rural areas have disappeared since the 2000s, and a third have been lost in urban areas.
Making your garden more hospitable to hedgehogs isn’t just good for keeping their numbers up, but it can be good for your garden too.
Shannen tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Just like the shrew and the vole, the hedgehog is an insectivore with a voracious appetite, but also an opportunist eater.
‘An adult hedgehog can eat up to 200 grams of insects per night, making the perfect pest controller in your garden.
‘Apart from insects and plant material, they help with controlling other types of garden-bound pests such as slugs, snails and, on occasion, even mice and frogs, if they are easy prey.’
If you want to make your garden a safe haven for these little cuties, Shannen recommends: ‘Leave areas of the garden naturally unkempt with fallen leaves, twigs and dead vegetation, which they can use to build nests.
‘Leave bowls of water out in the winter as hedgehogs drink lots of water, and top the water up regularly.
‘Even though they feed off pests, food stations are recommended to act as a supplement.’
She says hedgehogs tend to avoid open spaces, so you might want to think about letting some of your grass grow tall.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep the rest of your garden tidy for them.
Shannen instructs: ‘Maintain general cleanliness and order in the garden, so that there is no netting or litter that they might get injured in.’
She adds: ‘Try to build homes for extra shelter if garden debris is scarce.’
You should also make sure there are hedgehog friendly exit routes leading out of any ponds.
What not to have in a hedgehog friendly garden
When it comes to things you shouldn’t do, Shannen advises swerving slug pellets, because they are fatal to the little guys.
She goes on: ‘Try not to instal fences that would deter their circulation. If they cannot be avoided, make holes for the hedgehogs.
‘It’s not a good idea to mow the lawn without making sure there are no hedgehogs around first.
‘Avoid chemicals for the garden that might be harmful for them, or even reduce the quantity of natural food available.
‘Don’t leave pools uncovered, especially overnight, and don’t go disturbing their hibernation.’
Shrubs and hedges are great habitats for hedgehogs since they offer the little dudes hiding spots and free access between gardens when used instead of fences.
Shannen adds: ‘Species with large deciduous leaves are great for hedgehogs collecting leaves for their nests. Here are some top picks: Beech, Berberis, Buddleia, Pyracantha.
‘Because hedgehogs are opportunists and enjoy plant material and fallen fruit, Pyracantha and Berberis varieties are particularly beneficial as they produce berries.
‘Bonus, the berries serve as food for birds when nature fades towards the end of the year, and as a source of nectar for bees too.
‘Beech is especially well-suited for British weather, which means that it has lasting power throughout the year, when other plants and trees might no longer provide adequate shelter for the little creatures.
‘Buddleia, as a deciduous shrub, comes in handy when needing to populate the garden with hedgehog-friendly greenery, as it is above-average resistant to pests and diseases… just until the little spiky warriors arrive.’
J Parker’s is a plant and bulb company based in Manchester.
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