November is when hedgehogs start preparing their nest and eat extra food in preparation for winter hibernation.
Hedgehogs are very useful to gardeners as they feast on slugs, snails, beetles and caterpillars – pests that gardeners want to keep at bay. Hedgehogs are a protected species as their numbers have declined by around 50% over the past 10 years.
3 steps to create a haven for hedgehogs:
Improve access to your garden
Hedgehogs need access to your garden but fences are a barrier. Provide hedgehog sized holes in fences to enable them to move freely between gardens as they search for food and shelter.
Provide shelter for hedgehogs
Hedgehogs will use their shelter to hide during the day and to hibernate when it gets to November. Females will also use the shelter to raise their young. Unfortunately hedgehogs make their own nests in compost heaps and bonfires, as this seems to be an ideal habitat for them – but is very dangerous.
Provide food for hedgehogs
Give the hedgehog a suitable location to forage or put out food for hedgehogs. You can provide a suitable foraging location in an area of rough grass or a small pond, as this will attract insects which the hedgehog can eat as well as giving them a water source. Steep sided ponds can cause a problem for hedgehogs as they can often fall into ponds with no way of escaping, this can be solved by either making the water’s edge shallower or placing a submerged brick near the edge for the hedgehog to stand on.
If you decide to leave food for the hedgehog, you should do this on a regular basis as they will become dependent on this food source. Hedgehogs love dog or cat food (no fish) and a bowl of water. Do not leave bread and milk, hedgehogs can’t digest milk and it makes them ill, and bread will fill hedgehogs up without providing nutrition.