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Hedgehog Friendly Gardening

One Voice for Animals UK Guest Blog by Prickly Edge Hedgehog Rescue


Despite repeated warnings, every year we are seeing the same injuries in rescue.

So far this year (January to April), 30% of the hedgehogs admitted to our rescue have been as a direct result of human actions. YOU can protect hedgehogs by sharing this article with your family, friends, colleagues and by putting this advice into practice. Every year, hundreds of hedgehogs are injured or killed by people using garden machinery, such as mowers and strimmers.


Hedgehogs do not have good eyesight and will make a nest anywhere that they feel safe. They will not be aware that they have made a nest in the middle of dense, overgrown, grass or weeds. You can protect them by cutting the foliage to a height of 30cm above ground level and then carefully checking the area a section at a time by hand! There have been incidents where hedgehogs have been blinded by people checking using sticks; the stick has accidentally penetrated the hedgehog’s eye as it uncurled in response to being disturbed.


Be mindful when turning compost heaps, hedgehogs could be asleep in there. Compost heaps are safe and warm places for hedgehogs to build their nest and they are full of bugs which provide a convenient meal for them.



Although we would prefer people didn't use them at all, rat traps and poisons must be placed inside a wooden or plastic box with a vertical entrance which narrows to only allow rats inside. They, as with humane basket traps should be placed on a ledge that hedgehogs will struggle to reach. Many hedgehogs caught in rat traps may initially survive but have sustained significant injuries which mean they cannot be released. Injuries such as fractured limbs or irreparable damage to the vessels supplying the extremities, which ultimately results in euthanasia. If using humane basket traps they must be checked 2–3 times per day. If not checked regularly throughout the day, any hedgehogs or other animals that become trapped must be checked by a rescue or vet to make sure they are not suffering from dehydration before being released.


Please raise football nets off the ground when not in use. Netting that is used to protect crops, should be at a height of at least 20cm off the ground. If hedgehogs become entangled in netting, they must be taken to a rescue or vet to be fully examined. Hedgehogs can suffer concealed injuries and dehydration when caught in nets. If they have a concealed injury that becomes infected on release, it will attract flies and lead to a slow, painful death.


Hedgehog Houses

If you have hedgehogs in your garden or want to encourage them you can purchase or build a hedgehog house to keep them safe. Get advice from a local recue or hedgehog charity to make you choose a suitable one. Many hedgehog houses sold commercially are unsuitable because they are too small and not built using untreated exterior pine.



Pesticides

Pesticides are harmful. They kill the hedgehogs’ natural sources of food. Slug pellets, not only poison the slugs, but the hedgehogs as well. There are natural alternatives available.


Ponds

Hedgehogs will seek drinking water wherever they can find it. Hedgehogs are great swimmers, but if you have a pond make sure there is a ramp or some other form of escape route that hedgehogs can use to climb out. Wildlife ponds with sloping beach access are ideal as they offer a safe environment for hedgehogs to drink from and with careful planting, they provide the perfect habitat for some of the hedgehog’s natural sources of food, such as amphibians, invertebrates, and insects.



Why not have a go at creating a hedgehog, friendly garden?

Leave an area of your garden overgrown for nature and support the hedgehogs natural habitat and food supply.

Plant pollinating wildflowers to support other wildlife such as birds and bees as well.

Plant low growing evergreens to provide ground cover for small mammals, and remember there are plants that you can put in to deter slugs, such as ferns and lavender.


You might like to take inspiration from ITV’s Love Your Garden with Alan Titchmarsh. Watch them create a beautiful garden, supportive of our UK Wildlife on the 2nd of May at 8 pm. ITV1.


Happy Hedgehog Awareness week 2023 from Penny and the team at Prickly Edge Hedgehog Rescue C.I.C


 

One Voice for Animals UK has a rescue directory of almost 300 organisations that need support. If you enjoyed this blog, head over and find your local rescue and make a donation

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