Spring is here and hedgehogs are starting to wake from hibernation. They will be sleepy and very thirsty and will head for the nearest water. Although good swimmers many die in ponds because there is no way out for them. By putting some green plastic coated wire netting down into (not across) the pond you can provide a ladder for them to use should they fall in.
It's not only hedgehogs that are out and about but gardeners as well. Whilst the hedgehog is the gardeners' friend the gardener is not always the hedgehogs' friend. Many of the jobs we do in our gardens can affect and even harm hedgehogs. So please take care when tidying up, pulling down sheds (a favourite nesting site) and strimming long grass and brambles.
Hedgehogs are not territorial; they tend to have home patches. A females’ home patch will be just big enough to support her and her hoglets. A males’ patch will be much larger in the breeding season as they wander long distances searching for females. Once the autumn comes their home patches will become smaller. So if you see a hedgehog on a regular basis in the springtime it is more likely to be a female. If you are able to leave food out each night then this will encourage any females to stay around and eat your slugs and snails. However males, will have other priorities and will have a nomadic lifestyle at this time of year.
The following are a few suggestions for feeding stations that can keep the food dry and deter cats from stealing the food.
- Try a paving slab on bricks (leave a gap between 2 of the bricks as an entrance hole)
- A box with a small hole cut into it
- A large box upside down with a brick propping up one end
- A rabbit hutch with its door wedged partly open
- An upside down pet basket
- An upside down toy box with the hand holds cut away
As a final suggestion try to get one of those blue plastic mushroom boxes. Cut a 12.5cm x 12.5 cm (5" x 5") hole in one of the short sides so when the box is upside down the hole becomes an entrance. Put the food at the far end and weigh the box down with a stone. Sometimes a brick needs to be placed 10cm - 12.5cm (4 - 5”) away from the entrance, so if a cat has tried to reach in with a paw the brick should make it more difficult.
Finally do remember hedgehogs are nocturnal and usually only come out in the day when they are in serious trouble.
The above was kindly supplied by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society who can be contacted for help and advice on 01584 890801.