Much fun and laughter for many on bonfire night…. but brings DEATH for others! Hedgehogs and other wildlife find bonfire piles a natural habitat to shelter, sleep, and give birth within.
Hedgehogs curl up in fear- rarely run away. DON’T KILL by being lazy! RELOCATE the bonfire ON THE DAY of lighting to prevent burning wildlife alive.
Every year, Hedgehogs that escape the fires, arrive in rescues with melted spines & smouldering skin, others with burning lungs through smoke inhalation. THEY DIE TOO!
THINK, MOVE IT, and if you must, LIGHT it.
Put it in a corner to serve as a wildlife habitat to enjoy all year around without setting light to it. It will attract life to your garden and the natural food chain of insect life for Hedgehogs & other wildlife.
HALLOWEEN & PUMPKIN fun is upon us! Please, Please, eat your pumpkin or dispose of it sensibly – do not leave upon the ground as it could KILL your Hedgehogs if they eat it. Pumpkin causes Diarrhoea in Hedgehogs, which then dehydrates them, potentially leading to their death.
APRIL is when we start seeing everything springing to life again, plants, bugs, Bees, Butterflies, birds gathering for their nests….and of course, many more Hedgehogs emerging from Hibernation. It is also when many with gardens and allotments get busy too – please be careful and check everything before digging, strimming and discarding rubbish. Piles of leaves, clumps of grass, pampas grass, piles of rubbish or wood, compost heap, green gardening bags, opened compost bags are all inviting to Hedgehogs to nest or hibernate and often are so well camouflage that you will not see them until it is too late. So please, wear thorn proof gloves and CHECK through before using tools.
So this is also the month to carefully check your Hedgehog houses. If they are occupied, leave them alone. If they are empty in the daytime, it is time to clean them out. Pick a sunny day. Empty contents into the dustbin and brush out thoroughly. Then use a scrubbing brush and boiling water to give the inside of the box a thorough scrub. Be extremely careful about using cleaning products as these can be toxic to Hedgehogs; if you want to disinfect after scrubbing, use Anigene disinfectant or Safe4 disinfectant. Let the box dry thoroughly before filling with Straw and placing it back in the garden for use.
Remember to make your garden Hedgehog friendly…. Here are a few tips,
- Encourage Hedgehogs through gardens by providing 13cmsq access holes in fences and gates, ‘hedgehog highways’.
- Provide hibernation/shelter houses filled with straw in shady & quiet parts of the garden. Nearby provide food & water in another house.
- Cover ALL drains so that Hedgehogs cannot fall in nor be poisoned by what drips from your pipes into level drains.
- Lift ALL types of netting, garden, football, trampoline to 12“ off the ground at night, to prevent entanglement.
- Stop using chemicals on plants & lawns as they will kill off the food chain for both birds and Hedgehogs and if ingested will kill them too. If you must use poison, traps & baits, put them in the specialised boxes out of reach of Hedgehogs crawling in.
- Garden bags, piles of rubbish & leaves, compost heaps, under sheds & decking, unmanaged borders, clumps of grass, bamboo & pampas, are all very attractive to Hedgehogs for shelter/nests. Check areas for life, very carefully before using sharp equipment and strimmers.
- Ponds are fantastic for wildlife, but there must be a slope or shallow steps into the pond to prevent Hedgehogs and other critters drowning.
- Clutter on floors of sheds, garages & summer houses attract nesting Hedgehogs so please keep the floors clear or keep the doors open all year round.
- Bonfires kill so many wildlife. Please build your bonfire during the day & light it the same day so as to prevent any life resting there.
- Feeding the birds is wonderful, but allowing Hedgehogs to eat their leftovers that fall to the floor can KILL Hedgehogs. Place bird feeders over a tray or table approx 18” off the ground or sweep up before dusk.
- To avoid injury to Hedgehogs, please keep your dogs on leads in the garden from dusk until dawn and after 6pm in Summer when the Hedgehogs are foraging.
- Finally, try to keep an area of the garden wild. Plant for attracting pollinators, insects, beetles. This will keep the food chain alive for birds and hedgehogs. A pile of logs, twigs, grass cuttings, leaves & garden debris will attract hedgehogs to nest too. If you fence it off with chicken wire, approx 6” off the ground, it will prevent dogs disturbing the area.
REMEMBER, next month to look out for nests as May & June are popular birthing months for Hedgehogs.
NATIONAL HEDGEHOG AWARENESS WEEK is 30th April to 6th May 2023….
Let us know what you are doing for Hedgehogs that week – can you help us fundraise?
We would love to hear from you at email@example.com
MARCH can be a very confusing month for Hedgehogs. Spring is on the way but the weather is extremely variable and a few days of warm weather can slowly awaken Hedgehogs that have hibernated. This awakening can take several days, by which time the weather may turn icy again. They awaken very thirsty and hungry. Their wild foods are still slumbering; caterpillars, beetles, worms… slugs and snails are the ‘emergency’ feed when nothing else is
available, as slugs & snails cause lungworm and without treatment will kill them.
Please provide food and water every night of the year just in case a Hedgehog not in hibernation should pass through your garden, without it, they will perish. Do not clean out your Hedgehog houses yet.
It is often the Males that hibernate & awaken first, because the females have been rearing an Autumn litter which prevents their early hibernation and therefore will usually be later in emerging. Those that did not hibernate and managed to forage supplement foods from us all will be in ‘action’ first for mating, so there may well be early litters produced in April. May and June are the more common months for mating.
Many gardeners will be itching to get started but for most it is too cold to plant or seed anything. So now is the best time to plan for planting to attract pollinators, insects and beetles, which in turn, assists feeding Hedgehogs, birds and other wildlife. Without the insect world we will see a decline in many species. You can also plant ‘companion’ plants too that will divert the insects eating your favourite plants. A wood pile covered in grass cuttings,
leaves and garden debris is a great magnet for insects and as a nesting site for Hedgehogs. Generally, shop bought Hedgehog houses are shelters, not nesting boxes for pregnant Hedgehogs. Females search for a quiet position, close to a food supply, and with enough room to enlarge their nest as the Hoglets grow, hence why many are found under sheds and decking. They need an area at least 3ft sq. Think of Hedgehogs as small loaves of bread.
Mummy Hedgehog = 1 loaf, she will have up to 10 hoglets but the general average is 5, so 5 hoglets will each be almost half the size of mum, so they = 2.5 loaves. Your nesting box needs to be able to hold at least 3.5 small loaves of bread plus a huge amount of straw, leaves and other nesting materials to keep them warm and safe from predators. The doorway is best kept 5” w x 4” h, and preferably with a tunnel.
If you do have Hedgehog activity in your garden at night, please keep your dogs on leads to prevent them from killing or maiming but also preventing seriously nasty mouth injuries to themselves from attacking.
Remember to put fresh food and water out every night of the year under cover. We recommend the branded food for Hedgehogs by Brambles, it comes in tins, semi moist and crunchy. By putting out a bit of each you will attract all age groups of Hedgehogs. The elderly often have bad teeth and can only eat soft foods, Hoglets like to crunch whilst teething, and all others will eat everything! If you prefer to give cat foods, ensure they are meat flavoured,
and that the first ingredient in dry foods is meat, not cereal and that the protein level is high.
Never feed any foods containing anything that you would feed wild birds.
Next month, APRIL, has National Hedgehog Week… look out for our information of what you could do for your local rescue during that week.
FEBRUARY is a month when people can get unsettled and want to start tidying their gardens and often this can be a danger for Hedgehogs. Many shelter or hibernate under piles of leaves, in compost heaps, under tarpaulin, under piles of rubbish, in log piles, in opened bags of compost, under decking and sheds etc. So please, tidy with caution. If you disturb a Hedgehog, please simply cover it back up and if you are worried, you can ring us on 07590756833 for guidance.
Let’s see what can be done in the garden to make it Hedgehog friendly….
- ENCOURAGE Hedgehogs into your garden and ask your neighbours to do the same, by providing 13 cm sq access holes (Highways) in fences and gates.
- PROVIDE hibernation/shelter boxes filled with straw in shady quiet parts of the garden & feeding station boxes to provide meaty flavoured wet & dry cat foods or Brambles Hedgehog foods all year around as many Hedgehogs do not hibernate. Always have shallow saucers of water available nearby too.
- COVER all drains, so that Hedgehogs cannot fall in or stand under and be poisoned or burnt by what comes out of your pipes. Secure the covers by screwing to the surface as Hedgehogs are very strong and will lift the cover when they are thirsty.
- LIFT all types of netting to at least 12 inches above ground before dusk to prevent Hedgehogs becoming entangled. Trampoline, Football, garden netting, they all injure or kill Hedgehogs every year.
STOP using chemicals of any sort in the garden. Rat poisons, baits and traps KILL any creature that can access them and so should be placed in specialised boxes off the ground where rats can climb but Hedgehogs cannot – bear in mind that Hedgehogs are great diggers and climbers! The use of chemicals on plants and the use of lawn treatments will kill off the food chain for Hedgehogs and birds, and if ingested, whether eaten or licked, often kill them too. Let nature take over, no use of chemicals WILL bring nature into your garden and they WILL control what you otherwise would have used chemicals for.
- CHECK carefully before disposing, clearing, and using sharp equipment such as forks and strimmers. Garden bags, piles of rubbish, leaf piles, compost heaps, under sheds & decking, unmanaged borders, clumps of grass and bamboo are all very attractive for Hedgehogs to shelter, hibernate or rear young in.
- DECLUTTER the floors of your sheds, summer houses, greenhouses and garages. Your clutter encourages Hedgehogs to hide and nest within and will creep in undetected whenever the doors are ajar late afternoon until dawn. Please check for them before closing the doors for any length of time… or make a highway door for them to come and go, with a hedgehog house inside… you might just get a nesting female quietly raise her hoglets there. Provide food and water if she does.
- BIRD feeding is always encouraged, BUT, allowing the Hedgehogs to clear up after them is likely to KILL your Hedgehogs. Sweep up left overs before dusk, or have a bird table set up at least 16 inches off the floor, under the feeders to catch the fallen foods.
- BONFIRES attract a lot of wildlife and especially Hedgehogs. Always MOVE the bonfire to its lighting position ON THE DAY of lighting to ensure no wildlife will be burned to death. Hedgehogs curl up in fear and defence and therefore will not leave your bonfire and will burn to death. Be safe, not sorry….. Better still, don’t burn your garden rubbish, make a wild area with it.
- PONDS are fun for us and great for wildlife too… so long as there is a way out if any have fallen in! Please, ensure that there is a plank of wood with gripping areas, or a nobbly tree branch/log, or brick/stone slopes, so that wildlife can escape. Hedgehogs can swim, but not for long, and many drown each year after falling into ponds. Also ensure that all buckets or containers that can fill with water, have tight lids or are stored upside down as Hedgehogs have been known to fall or climb in for water, then drown.
- DOGS attacking Hedgehogs is very common and often fatal. The pressure of a dog’s jaw alone can crush the fragile skeleton of a Hedgehog, puncture wounds will get infected, and the Hedgehog will die. Please keep your dogs on leads when in the garden from dusk until dawn and after 6pm in Summer months. This will not only prevent a Hedgehog injury, but will save you a vet bill too as when a dog bites a Hedgehog it can cause awful mouth infections.
- FINALLY, try to keep an area of your garden wild and plant to attract pollinators, insects and Beetles. This will keep the wildlife food chain active. Have a pile of logs/twigs/garden debris. Keep the leaves that fall and add to the pile as they are not only nesting materials but also have next year’s insect world laid on them. Deter dogs entering that area.
Wishing you a very happy and safe gardening experience.
Next month will be about Hedgehogs coming out of hibernation and finding their mate.
January is still an unsettled month for wildlife. The weather is so unpredictable and the temperatures changeable.
Hedgehogs of varying sizes are still out and about. It is a misconception that all Hedgehogs hibernate. Hedgehog hibernation is encouraged when the weather dips below 5 degrees, when food and water is sparse and when they simply need to recharge. Many do not survive hibernation often due to not being well and often through not being fat enough. As a rescue we recommend continuing to put food and water out for Hedgehogs all year around so that those that are not hibernating, often Autumn born juveniles that are too small, and their Mothers needing to fatten after nursing their late born, do not starve to death. The hedgehogs that do hibernate, often awaken intermittently for a food and water top up, and they too rely on your Hedgehog restaurants, or they could possibly die too.
Please provide shallow dishes, large flower pot saucers of fresh water and shallow dishes of food every night for the Hedgehogs in feeding stations (google for designs). They may not find you straight away, so expect to waste some, and if they find nothing, they will not return. A starving Hedgehog’s immune system will start failing, thus inviting life threatening illness and worm burdens. We highly recommend Brambles brands of Hedgehog food as is perfectly balanced for them. If you want to feed wet or dry Cat foods, check that the protein level is high and that the first ingredient is meat and not a cereal. As for other Hedgehog food brands, which are not regulated, be aware and not buy any that contain anything that you would feed to birds such as mealworms, peanuts, sunflower seed, dried fruit, grains etc as these are harmful to Hedgehogs even if they appear to eat them.
Provision of straw filled wooden waterproofed Hedgehog houses in sheltered parts of the garden will also offer life saving shelter for many Hedgehogs out on their food hunt.
Please also remember, that a Hedgehog seen out in daylight is poorly, even if you think it looks ok. Take it straight to your nearest rescue for treatment.
If you are unsure where your nearest rescue is, you can call us, Lucky Hedgehog Rescue in Grimston HU11 4QE on 07590 756833 as we are available 24/7 to advise and receive.
Next month we will talk about how to make your garden Hedgehog friendly.