Stonehouse Gardening Club were treated last week to an engaging and very informative talk on Hedgehogs and Your Garden by Annie Parfitt who has founded the local Help a Hedgehog Hospitals in three local towns.
Hedgehogs are in serious decline in the UK with perhaps only 1.5m now – down from around 16m in the 1960s. The decline is due to many factors including
- Loss of habitat (yes, hedges of course)
- Use of pesticides which reduce food sources
- Increased road traffic
- Accidental destructions such as bonfire night with hibernating hogs
Being Hedgehog Friendly
- Hedgehogs like to roam freely so making holes in fences to encourage travel between gardens helps them gain a wider range of food sources
- Slug pellets should be avoided since eating a poisoned slug also poisons the hedgehog
- Plastic pea and bean netting can also cause distress and death if the animals get tangled
- Take care with strimmers as these can be lethal for resting hedgehogs; being nocturnal they will find a secluded spot during the day
- Being lactose intolerant, hedgehogs should be fed meaty cat food rather than the old wives’ tale of milk and bread
Providing a garden feeding station can help, particularly with the recent changing weather patterns; first litters are getting later due to low food availability and then second litters are often too weak to sustain the onslaught of Autumn with insufficient body fat to successfully hibernate
The Help the Hedgehog Hospitals supported 140 hoglets last year who would otherwise have been too small to survive.