With spring comes the start of the gardening season. The warmer weather wakes nature up. Bees, worms, butterflies, and hedgehogs crawl out from their winter rest. With these creatures crawling around, gardeners start planting and trimming for the summer. Many people don’t know that hedgehogs can be great helpers for gardeners. They munch on the same slugs and insects many gardeners struggle to repel! Yet they are often unintentionally harmed or warded off.
Hedgehogs are most active from March until October when they come out of hibernation. Now is the perfect time to provide a comfortable environment for hedgehogs to nest. They love hedges and long grass, as it provides protection from predators and curious humans. A wild corner can be an easy yet effective solution. Just leave a corner of your garden untouched and it will attract all kinds of wildlife! Piles of logs, leaves and compost are great for nesting materials and creepy crawlies that hedgehogs eat. Don’t forget to check for hedgehogs before raking or mixing piles. Make sure nesting materials or hedgehog houses are in quiet parts of the garden where our spiky friends can live without being disturbed.
Access is another huge hedgehog attracter. Hedgehogs need a large territory for nesting and feeding, as they walk an estimated 2 kilometres each night. In urban gardens they can struggle with territory size, and therefore have issues finding food or mates. Fences limit hedgehogs’ movements and might also encourage hedgehogs to walk on unsafe roads. Cutting a hole the size of a CD in your fence can direct hedgehogs to safe gardens in the neighborhood where they can find food and shelter. It’s even better if you get your neighbors to do the same!
Once you have a hedgehog visitor in your garden, keeping it safe is quite simple. Safe actions are equally as important as safe environments: a quick check for hedgehogs before mowing or strimming can save lives. Additionally, doing it less often is an easy way to keep all critters happy and healthy in your garden. Don’t light a bonfire without checking for local residents! There are a few hazards to be aware of, such as anything hedgehogs can get tangled in or fall into. Netting, wire, and litter are all a hedgehog’s enemy. Water elements, on the other hand, can be great for hedgehogs, not only as a source of drinking water, but also for swimming. Hedgehogs love swimming but can struggle to climb out of ponds. Make sure there is a clear exit route they can use to climb out, like a ramp or sandbags.
Keeping a wildlife-safe garden can be fun and easy. Most of the time, the critters will help you as much as you help them. Insects attract all kinds of gorgeous animals to your backyard, like hedgehogs, birds, and bats. These animals will return the favour by eating the critters harming your plants. For more hedgehog-friendly tips and information, head over to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) website or follow the University of Stirling Hedgehog Friendly Campus (HFC) initiative.
Stirling HFC: https://hedgehogstirling.wixsite.com/home
By: Sammy Berninger