Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Wild About Gardens Week - Holes and Hideaways: Part 1

Today in my garden I have been going a little 'H' mad - looking at creating Holes, Highways, Homes and Hideaways - checking out  my garden's Habitat for Hedgehogs! 

Hedgehog poo - found in my garden June 2015!
I was fortunate during the summer to meet our local hedgehog, first spotting it running down the road outside the house. (See blog post here) I have never seen it actually in the garden, but I know one visits by the signs it leaves behind. I like going out into the garden in the morning and spotting hints and clues as to who has visited the garden overnight; the hedgehog leaves little triangular holes in the grass where he has snuffled for grubs and slugs, or occasionally even a poop on the paving! 

Today I wanted to assess the suitability of my garden for the hog. I know at least one comes in, but how attractive is my plot from a hoggy point of view?

Access Permitted!
A major issue affecting hedgehogs is our habit for security and enclosing our gardens. Despite being a creature of little legs, a hedgehog will have a large territory and needs to travel surprisingly long distances every night to find food (and a mate in the season!). One of the simplest things everyone can do to help hedgehogs is create a Hog Highway. A simple gap beneath a hedge, or a small hole in the bottom of a fence would allow your local hedgehogs to travel in and out of your garden with ease. 
The Wild About Gardens website has some top tips on this, so get chatting to your neighbours and lets get our gardens reconnected! 

This is a photo of my own hedgehog highway! 

Welcome Hogs!

A Hungry Hog is not a Happy Hog!
Once a hedgehog is in the garden, its thoughts are undoubtably going to be on finding food! Mostly insectivorous, hedgehogs have long been known as the gardener's best friend, a title awarded due to their munching of slugs, snails and other garden 'pests'. 
The best way to provide food for hedgehogs is to ensure that you leave some scruffier areas; damp fallen leaves, a log pile, the sort of places where slugs and other 'creepy-crawlies' love to hang out.

In my own garden I do not use any pesticides or chemicals, keeping poisons out of the food chain.  I also try not to be too tidy (it's easy really!) so that the hedgehogs have places to forage for their natural food. 
If you are concerned about your local hedgehogs finding enough to eat, especially at this time of year when they need to store as much energy as they can to sustain them through their winter hibernation, you can put out food especially for them. Stay away from the traditional 'bread and milk', as both are actually very bad for hedgehogs. (Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant!) Instead, a small amount of meat-based cat food is fine, or you can buy special hedgehog mixes from many bird-food retailers. 

Danger Deep Water!
Water is as important for hedgehogs as food. Many of us may put out a bird bath for our feathered visitors, but we often forget about the wildlife that we don't see. I have a plant/seed tray which I keep filled with water year round. In the daytime the birds visit for a splash, and even bees land on the rocks I have placed in the water, to take on moisture. I hope the hedgehog makes use of it on his nighttime wanderings! 
I also have a small pond. Hedgehogs are great swimmers but I have designed my pond to have rocky edges and a ramp to ensure any clumsy creatures can easily climb back out! 

Hedgehog photographed at the British Wildlife Centre

Inspired to help hedgehogs in your own garden? Download your free guide from Wild About Gardens, or visit HedgehogStreet to find out more! 

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