Hedgehogs are one of the most beloved and iconic animals that can be found in gardens all over the world. Not only are they adorable and entertaining, but they also play an essential role in our ecosystems as natural pest controllers. Unfortunately, hedgehogs are in danger due to habitat loss and fragmentation, pesticides, and other threats.
As gardeners, we can help support these prickly creatures by taking a few simple steps to create a safe and welcoming environment in our gardens.
- Create a Hedgehog-Friendly Environment
One of the most important things you can do to support hedgehogs in your garden is to create a hedgehog-friendly environment. Hedgehogs need access to a variety of habitats to thrive, including areas with plenty of cover, water sources, and a food supply. You can create a hedgehog-friendly environment in your garden by:
- Planting dense shrubs or hedges: Hedgehogs prefer areas with plenty of cover, so planting dense shrubs or hedges in your garden can create a safe space for them. Avoid pruning these areas too frequently to give them plenty of cover.
- Creating a wildflower meadow: Wildflower meadows are an excellent way to attract insects, which are a primary food source for hedgehogs. Consider creating a wildflower meadow in your garden to provide a diverse range of insects.
- Providing a water source: Hedgehogs need access to fresh water, so provide a shallow dish of water in your garden. Make sure to clean and refill the water regularly.
- Avoid Using Pesticides
Pesticides can be harmful to hedgehogs and other wildlife. They can reduce the hedgehogs' food sources, such as insects and other invertebrates, or even cause direct harm. It is essential to avoid using pesticides in your garden whenever possible, and consider alternative methods for pest control. For example:
- Companion planting: Companion planting is a method of planting different species of plants together to help deter pests. Certain plants like marigolds and chives can help deter pests without harming hedgehogs.
- Biological control: Biological control involves introducing natural predators or parasites that feed on pests, such as ladybirds or nematodes, to help control the pest population.
- Provide Shelter
Hedgehogs need a safe place to rest during the day, so providing shelter is essential. You can create a hedgehog house or leave a pile of logs and leaves in a quiet corner of your garden to provide shelter for hedgehogs. Hedgehogs will also use compost heaps or leaf piles for nesting, so avoid disturbing these areas.
- Watch Out for Hazards
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals and often venture out at night when it's dark. It's essential to be mindful of any hazards that may pose a risk to hedgehogs. For example:
- Garden netting: Hedgehogs can get trapped in garden netting, so make sure to remove any unused netting from your garden or secure it tightly against the ground.
- Ponds and swimming pools: Hedgehogs can fall into ponds or swimming pools and struggle to get out. Provide an escape route, such as a ramp or steps, to help them get out.
- Supplement Their Diet
Hedgehogs need a varied diet to stay healthy. You can supplement their diet by leaving out food and water for them. Hedgehogs are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods, including insects, slugs, and snails. You can leave out cat or dog food or purchase specialised hedgehog food from a pet store.
In conclusion, creating a hedgehog-friendly garden is an excellent way to support these adorable creatures and help them thrive in our changing world. By providing a variety of habitats, avoiding pesticides, providing shelter, watching out for hazards, and supplementing their diet, you can create a safe and welcoming space for hedgehogs in your garden. Not only will you be supporting these important creatures, but you'll also be creating a beautiful and diverse garden that benefits other wildlife too. It's important to remember that every little action can make a difference, and together we can all help protect these beloved animals for future generations to enjoy. So, why not start creating your hedgehog-friendly garden today?