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Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs have been declining, but statistics show that there have been increases which are attributed to public awareness, improving access between walled gardens and specifically from people putting out the correct food and water and the right kind of feeding stations that keep cats and foxes off the grub.

click to view video of a hedgehog feeding in Pippa’s garden

Feeding Hedgehogs

There is some misinformation that has been published advising that the public shouldn’t support feed hedgehogs in the winter because it deters them from hibernating. This is absolute rubbish and quite damaging.

Local vets are also known to euthanise hedgehogs in the belief that they have slug pellet poisoning, but dehydration causes them to walk in a staggered manner that resembles poisoning. 

Hedgehogs particularly need feeding and access to fresh water daily at the moment as with the warm weather, the ground is dry and hard. Otherwise the rescues will be inundated with dehydrated hogs and abandoned hoglets now that they are entering mating season.  Heavy shallow bowls of water are less likely to be tipped over. Dry kitten food helps clean their teeth and less likely to attract flies than wet food.

See images below of home made feeding stations. The idea is to put food where cats and foxes can’t access it. Ideally with two entrance/exits so that a hedgehog can escape if a more dominant hog shows up.  It’s a good idea to put fresh food and water in clean bowls, out each evening, to avoid flies and other vermin, and to minimise contamination with parasites. 

Please take care to not feed mealworms to hedgehogs. Whilst they love them and some rescue centres feed them as a limited treat (approx 3 per day), the current opinion on forums is that mealworms and sunflower seeds cause metabolic bone disease. It’s perhaps more common to know that milk and peanuts should also be avoided, and anything containing sugar which rots their teeth.

See Country Living’s article on this subject.

See also the forum on Hedgehog Street.

Local Rescues

You can also contact Sara King in Boston Spa who will help to take any hedgehogs that need rescuing to any of the above rescue centres. You can contact her on 07928 536295.

What Can You Do?

Sign the petition, ‘Make Hedgehogs a Protected Species’.

Sign up to British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

Develop hedgehog awareness or learn how you can support them in the wild – Toni Bunnell gives talks and the Vale Wildlife Hospital & Rehabilitation does courses.

Report a Sighting at Big Hedgehog Map.

Create hedgehog highways – hedgehogs like to roam significant distances each night to find food and to mate. If your boundary is enclosed, create a 13cm hole in your garden wall or fence to allow free movement between gardens. Label the hole so that it is recognised by future home owners. Encourage your neighbours to do the same. This may not be possible where dogs are off lead at night. See Hedgehog Street for more information.

Garden with care – would you recognise a hedgehog nest? Check long grass before using a garden strimmer and make ponds safe. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society has more information on this.

Bonfires – check for nesting or sleeping hedgehogs before setting light to a long standing pile of wood. Ideally move the wood on the day of lighting. Where this really isn’t possible, only set fire from one side of the wood pile to enable sleeping hedgehogs to escape.

Littering – hedgehogs like to investigate cans, bags, plastic rings, rubber bands, but struggle to retract from them, often suffocating when they get stuck. Cut all plastic rings before disposal. Picking up litter can also help alleviate this problem.

Hedgehogs out in the day – a hedgehog may look OK, but if out in the day, it’s a sign that they are severely dehydrated and in trouble. Vital fluids in the first 24 hours can be life saving. Please don’t just move under a bush and don’t delay. Phone a rescue centre and they will advise.

Support feeding in your garden – as above.

See Hedgehog Street’s Top Tips.