There is nothing nicer than seeing a hedgehog snuffle it’s way across your garden. Secretive little fellows that they are, spotting one in their natural habitat means you are truly privileged. You probably know that they munch on worms, slugs and beetles but did you also know that they can swim?! These surprising wee chaps travel several miles during the night, seeking out the finest invertebrate cuisine as they shuffle through the undergrowth.

With numbers on the decline, we’ve put together a list of top ways you can encourage a little hedgehog action in your garden:

1. Feed them

Hedgehogs are quite partial to dog or cat food so leaving small amounts out for them can encourage them into your garden. Avoid feeding bread and milk as their stomachs cannot digest either and it can make them very ill.  

 

2. Access all areas

Make sure hedgehogs can travel freely. If your garden is locked down with tight fencing, think about loosening a panel or two, or cutting a hedgehog tunnel to ensure they have smooth passage during their nocturnal ramblings. It’s also a great plan to leave a little wild space in your horticultural planning. Areas of long grass and leaf piles, even stone piles and hedgerows make great living accommodation for our spikey buddies.

 

3. Hedgehog box

If you’re pretty handy with the old DIY, you can fairly easily make a hedgehog nesting box from a few bits of wood and some nails.

Make sure it has an entrance  chamber and a nesting chamber – igloo shaped is the idea. If you don’t know your screwdrivers from your spanners, you can always pick one up quite reasonably. The best place to locate your box is against a fence or shed, and near to any piles of leaves or overgrown areas of your garden.

 

4. Keep them safe

Avoid slug pellets at all costs if you want to encourage our prickly friends. Because of their slimy diet, any slug pellets you put out will be absorbed by hedgehogs too making them extremely ill and even killing them. Similarly, watch what you burn and when you burn it. Hedgehogs love nothing more than to nestle during the day in a huge pile of leaves. Ensure you check your leaf pile carefully for any curled up hogs before you burn your garden waste. The same advice goes for mowing long grass and forking your compost bin.

 

5. Pond life

As mentioned, hedgehogs make pretty awesome swimmers. They also really enjoy a midnight frolic in a lovely pond but often struggle to get out again. Make sure your pond has a gentle slope at some point around its edge rather than a straight drop. This way, they can climb out easily after a few gentle laps.

Often referred to as the gardener’s friend, hedgehogs really do have a special place in any green space. They consume so many common pests that encouraging them really is one of the best things you can do for your garden. With a little thought and some TLC, you can do your bit to coax our hedgehog friends into the safety of our gardens.