Have you got a prickly visitor in your garden? If yes, consider yourself lucky! Though hedgehog pays your garden a visit every now and then, remember that they’re threatened byloss of habitat and food. So, on their every visit to your garden, make them feel at home.
Hedgehogs love to roam around freely. So, just a little heads up – don’t be possessive. In case you didn’t know how to be extra nice to these little mammals, here are a few tips for you.
I have a hedgehog in my garden. What do I do?
1. Check if they need any help
Hedgehogs are nocturnal. If you see them at night, they are most probably fine by themselves. However, if you see them during the day, they might be in problem.
You might be thinking ‘How’d I know?’. Is the hedgehog looking lethargic and sunbathing? Is the hedgehog surrounded by flies? Or, are they wobbling while walking? Are there any other signs of injuries or weakness?
If your answer is yes to any of these questions, the hedgehog most likely needs your help. Wear your garden gloves and place the hedgehog slowly inside a high sided box.
To keep them warm, wrap a warm hot water bottle with a towel. You can place the hog on it and wrap them loosely with another towel. However, make sure that they have enough room to get off the bottle.
Once they are kept safe and warm, offer them some meaty dog or cat food and a bowl of freshwater. However, remember not to overfeed them. Feeding a hedgehog by force is also not a good idea.
Also, keep in mind that female hogs, sometimes, forage in the late afternoon. So, if you don’t see any of the above signs of trouble, picking up a completely fine hedgehog is an absolute no-no.
2. Contact hedgehog rescue
If the hedgehog is injured, your help alone will not be sufficient for them. Contact a nearby wildlife resource centre immediately if you feel the hedgehog is not in its best health.
3. Feed healthy guests
On the other hand, if you realise that a healthy hog is paying you a visit every night, you might want to keep a dog or cat food in your garden for their welcome.
Hedgehogs are not a fan of fish-flavoured food, and neither do they like bread. These foods are known to upset their stomach; thus, be careful of what you’re feeding them.
If you’re desperate to keep them in your garden, buy some hedgehog biscuits from a garden centre or a pet shop.
4. They’d want some water too
Offering water to a hedgehog is essential. Especially if it’s a hot summer day, pour some freshwater onto a bowl and leave it in the garden. And remember – refrain from offering milk to hedgehogs.
5. Protect the food from other animals
If you have a pet and they’re likely to steal hedgehog’s food and drink, building or buying a small food centre for hedgehog will probably be the best way to go.
An alternate way is to cut a 4’’to 5’’ mini door in a plastic box such that hedgehogs can easily move in and out of the box and place their delicacies inside. This way, their food will be safe, and they can enjoy their meals at peace.
6. Make highways for them
As we’ve warned you before – don’t be possessive! A hedgehog travels over a kilometre in search of food every night. So, your garden will obviously not be enough for them. They’ll be going round and round with no meal to be found.
To solve this problem, make a small hole in the bottom of your fence. You can even convince your neighbours to do the same such that they can forage around the neighbourhood freely.
7. Avoid using slug pellets, insecticides, and pesticides
Hedgehogs feed on slugs, caterpillars, snails, and other garden pests. So, refrain from using slug pellets, insecticides or pesticides in your garden if you have these tiny guests in your garden.
Though these toxins will kill hog’s dinner, they will also indirectly impose health risks on the hogs.
8. Remember – their spines are sharp!
Now that you know, how hedgehogs can be a garden ally to you, you might want to be too friendly with them or even pet them. However, don’t on picking around every hog you see just because they are cute.
Remember that their spines are too sharp and can cause injuries to your hands. On top of that, these prickly mammals don’t like to be disturbed at all. Also, always make sure you have garden gloves on when you are handling a hedgehog.
9. Make your garden hedgehog friendly
We’ve said before; make them feel at home. But how? Well, the first thing you need to know is that neat gardens are not hedgehog-friendly.
But that doesn’t mean you shall let your garden turn into a dirty bush, does it? However, you can leave a small area of your garden untrimmed for them. Another option is to pile some leaves or logs for them.
You can also collect fallen autumn leaves and dump them in one corner of your garden to create a wild corner for the hogs.
10. Be extra attentive while using your gardening tools
If you’re deciding to use power tools in your garden, be incredibly careful as hogs are very small and could be hidden in places you’ve never thought of. So, whenever you’re using tools, even if it’s just forking over the compost heap, you have to be very attentive.
11. Add a ramp to your pond
Hedgehogs are pretty good at swimming, and if you see them enjoying the drink form your garden pond, it’s quite normal. However, if your garden pond has steep sides, hogs might not be able to get out.
To prevent such situations, you can add a small beach to your garden pond. Alternatively, you can attach a chicken mesh wire on the ground and fold it towards the pond.
12. Cover your garden holes
If a hedgehog falls into any of your garden pits or holes, it’s challenging for them to get out. So, if you have any such hole in your garden, cover them all.
13. Make sure your pet is not giving them a hard time
If you have a pet dog, this tip is for you. Dogs won’t necessarily kill hedgehogs. However, they might chase and annoy them. So, if you want hedgehogs to feel welcomed in your garden, control your pets!
14. Are there any vegetable nettings lying around?
Just imagine having hundreds of spines in your body and suddenly stumbling upon a fabric full of holes. Getting out of that would be a real nightmare.
So, if you have a habit of throwing vegetable nettings here and there in the garden, stop doing that immediately. Also, as long as hedgehogs keep visiting your garden, we recommend using and storing vegetable nettings 30 cm above the ground.
Same is the case of strings. Make sure no string is lying around your garden as they can also act as a snare and trouble your little visitors.
15. Are they roaming around in late autumn or early winter?
In case you didn’t know, hedgehogs hibernate. So, if you see them wandering around your garden in late autumn or early winter, they might not have enough fat in your body to survive hibernation.
To survive hibernation, hedgehog must weigh at least 600 gm. To weight the hedgehog, wear your garden gloves and place the hedgehog gently on a scale. If it is only slightly underweight, offer them enough food and water for 2-3 days and weight again.
However, if the hog is below 500 grams, they must be overwintered indoors. Contact a local hedgehog rescue centre if the hedgehog is in critical condition. Else, you can overwinter it yourself.
Keep them indoors at 18 ºC constant temperature to prevent them from hibernating and let them out at dusk once in a while for exercise. You must feed them about 100 grams of dog or cat food daily.
Also, digestive biscuits and raisins being too sweet are not quite recommended when it comes to feeding a hedgehog.
In case you’re interested in overwintering a hedgehog, this hedgehog FAQ is a must-read. Moreover, if you want more hedgehog related advice, you can contact a hedgehog or wildlife rescue or resource centre.
Hedgehogs are very garden friendly, but is your garden friendly to hedgehogs? We should help the hogs not only because they are cute and eats all the slugs, snails and pests from your garden, but also because they have nowhere else to go.
The loss of habitat and food has threatened them enough. So, making our garden and neighbourhood welcoming to hedgehogs is the least we can do for them.
Now that you know what to do and what not to do when you have a hedgehog in your garden, treat these little mammals preciously.