Help your local hedgehogs
Hedgehog numbers are in decline. In the last twenty years numbers have fallen by a third. By supporting your local hedgehogs you can help slow the decline in numbers. We have lots of ideas so you can help your local hedgehogs.
How you can help your local hedgehogs.
- Help Them Roam: Hedgehogs need to be able to roam so they can find enough food. Make sure they can easily move in and out of your garden. If you have a fence you might want to cut an access hole.
- Make Ponds Safe: Ponds are great for attracting wildlife to gardens. If you have one make sure that yours has an easy way for hedgehogs to get in and out.
- Avoid Chemicals: Don’t use slug pellets and weedkiller in your garden.
- Rewild Your Garden: Create a wild area in your garden to encourage beetles and caterpillars which are a great food source for hedgehogs.
- Food & Water: If you want to feed your local hedgehogs leave out fresh water and cat biscuits or specialist hedgehog food (which you can buy in garden centres and pet shops).
How to help sick or injured hedgehogs
If you find a sick or injured hedgehog follow these steps:
1. Find a box to put the hedgehog in: Make sure the box is deep enough so it can’t escape. Put an old towel or newspaper in the box to mop up any accidents.
2. Put the hedgehog in the box: Wear thick gardening gloves or use a towel to pick the hedgehog up – their spines can be very sharp!
3. Keep the hedgehog warm: If the hedgehog feels cold to the touch provide some heat. You can use a hot water bottle, heat pad or you could fill a bottle with hot water and wrap it in a towel. Make sure you keep checking the water bottle – if the bottle gets cold it will leech heat from the hedgehog.
4. Give the hedgehog some water: Put the water in a shallow dish and pop it in the box.
5. Don’t give the hedgehog any food: Giving food to a dehydrated hedgehog may kill it. The body takes all the fluids away from the vital organs to digest the food and the animal collapses.
6. Get help: Take the hedgehog to your nearest rescue or vet, who will treat the hedgehog under their RCVS code of practice.
Helping hedgehogs through the winter
Hedgehogs hibernate throughout winter to avoid the cold weather. They usually go into hibernation from October onward, depending on the temperature. The ideal temperature for hibernation is 5°C.
In recent years winters have become milder and many hedgehogs aren’t going into hibernation until January – that’s a lot of hungry hedgehogs looking for food at a time when food is scarce!
When hedgehogs do hibernate they’ll wake up during when the weather is milder and temperatures rise. Waking up from hibernation requires using up their stored fat reserves so before temperatures drop and they go back into hibernation they’ll need to go find food.
What you can do to help your local hedgehogs
Provide shelter: Provide a safe place for a hedgehog to hibernate in. You can buy hedgehog houses or you could make you own. It needs to be waterproof and placed somewhere quiet – under a bush or small tree.
Provide food: There’s much less food about in winter so help the hedgehogs build up their fat stores for hibernation by leaving food out. Hedgehogs also need food if they wake up during hibernation.
Dog and cat food is a good choice for hedgehogs. Leave out dog/cat biscuits on cold nights as tinned food will freeze. Don’t forget to leave out fresh water too – but never leave out milk as it makes hedgehogs poorly.
Survival Weight: A hedgehog needs to weigh over 600 grams to survive hibernation. If they have not managed to eat enough food to reach this weight then they may not hibernate.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal: meaning they are active at night and asleep in the daytime.
Hedgehog Diet: They eat insects, such as worms, beetles and slugs. They will also eat frogs, fallen bird eggs and fruit.
Hedgehog Street’s website is packed full of activities kids can do to help hedgehogs including building a hedgehog house and becoming a Hedgehog Champion!
More Outdoor Activities
Find lots more outdoor activities: We’ve lots more activities including our free downloadable nature hunt sheets, mini beast guide and guide to pond dipping.