What to Feed Hedgehogs in Your Garden

What to Feed Hedgehogs in Your Garden

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How wonderful to be watch wild animals visiting your garden and if you’d like to help and encourage hedgehogs, they will surely visit your garden if you put out any of the following:

  • Hedgehog food found in garden centres and pet shops
  • Cat/dog meat – chicken in jelly preferably – no fish or meat in gravy.
  • Cat biscuits  but not fish flavour
  • Dried mealworms, crushed peanuts and/or sunflower seeds (just the hearts).
  • Water in a shallow bowl
  • No bread or milk – it makes them ill

How to stop other animals from stealing the food. 

Buy or build a small feeding station/house to put the food in.  These tend to be built so that only hedgehogs can get into them.

Put the food under a tile or a platform to prevent other animals stealing it.  It also keeps it drier, especially if you put things out like biscuits.

Keep  the water OUTSIDE the feeding station unless it’s freezing and then put it inside.

Why Are Hedgehogs in Decline?

Why Are Hedgehogs in Decline?

Over the past decade, numbers of hedgehogs have fell sharply again.  In the 1960’s they numbered over 35 million and at the last count this year  – 2013 , there were 1 million (yes, you read that right – ONE MILLION).

WHY?

How come these gorgeous creatures have gotten themselves on the endangered species list?

Hedgehog preparing for winter

Simple – like most wildlife they are being pushed out the fertile margins of farmland as farmers struggle to survive.  A lot of farms are now realising that adopting these wildlife preventation techniques actually help them in their businesses as well as the very wildlife we are striving to protect.

As farmers struggle for more and more productive land and yields from produce, it is inevitable that they feel compelled to use every bit of spare land they can lay their hands on.  You can’t blame them, but that’s a whole other story for people who are far more competent about farming techniques than me.  Suffice to say that hedgehogs have increasingly become frequenters of suburbia in the forms of forests on the edge of conurbations, parks and urban gardens.

This worked really well for both the farmers and the hedgehogs for a while until what I call the ‘Titchmarsh Blue’ revelution.  And before anyone thinks I’m having a go at Alan Titchmarsh, I am NOT, I think he’s a great guy and he does a fantastic job of bringing gardens to life.  I was an avid watcher of his transformational gardening programmes.  However, since then, the average British gardener has decided to utilise their space outdoors as much as their indoor space.  Absolutely nothing wrong with that, I’m all for using our bit of England’s green and pleasant land.

However, in our attempts to cram 48 hours into every 24 (and we’re all guilty of it and it drives most of us nuts) – we have to make compromises along the way.  We all like our gardens to look neat and tidy and free of those dreaded weeds that everyone hates so much.  Well that is except for me.   I’d hate to think what my neighbours think when they look out of their bedroom windows and see a massive carpet of dandelions on the first third of my garden (30’x60′) and if they could see the 70′ beyond they wouldn’t see anything much different.  We are very lucky to have bought a house that acquired an extra piece of land at the back measuring around 30′ x 50′ and we have a shed there plus a log store and all our compost bins.  You need a pith helmet and scythe at the moment to get up there – and that’s just from the cow parsley.  Wildlife must think they’ve died and gone to heaven.  And before anyone shouts me down and says, well, yes that’s okay for you but I don’t want that mess in my garden – I will say, hands up, I can’t see the mess because of the way I’ve planted a nice little hedge across half of the garden.

BUT – YOU don’t have to have ALL of your garden grow wild.  Just a small patch will help and will give hedgehogs that much needed boost to one of the major reasons they are in decline – food shortages.

Planting ground cover like rosemary and thyme creates environments for bugs and beetles to flourish and so provide food for visiting hedgehogs.  If you want to know what foods you can supplement for visiting hedgehogs, sign up for our 5 No-Cost Tips and Mini-Course and you’ll discover other ways YOU can help.

So – other reasons they are in decline:

  • Driven out of farmland as we’ve discussed
  • No food in urban gardens such as bugs and beetles
  • Killed on the roads
  • Killed by urban foxes
  • Getting tangled in football nets, wounds become infected and they die
  • Killed by pesticides – especially slug pellets
  • They are too weak to find food, mate and breed

And it’s that final point, that I want to make sure that everyone understands.  Because of the garden design revolution, everyone is fencing their gardens off.  Gone are the old-style hedges (prickly ‘n all) where hedgehogs could scramble through.  They have a range of about a mile but a lot of hedgehogs find their way to rescue centres with sore feet, simply because they are having to circumvent blockages.  They can’t climb 6 foot fences, so we either need to cut small holes in our fence to allow them access or allow them to tunnel underneath it.  Give it some thought and see what you can do.  And don’t forget to sign up for your FREE tips and learn more about creatures and how YOU can help.

Yvonne ‘Champion for Hedgehogs’ Richards

Slugs & Snails & Puppy Dog Tales

Slugs & Snails & Puppy Dog Tales

Say No to Snails!

It’s a common misconception that hedgehogs go around our gardens like some kind of natural environmental hoover, gobbling up any and all slugs and snails in their way.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the only reason that hedgehogs will eat slugs is if they are desperate for food, and I mean desperate, because most of the hedgehogs arriving in rescue centres are suffering with lungworm, caught from slugs.  Lungworm, as the name implies, attacks the lungs and airways and has the poor little mites coughing and spitting their way through a painful death.  I wouldn’t eat slugs if they did that me either, would you?

So how can we help?  Simple really – feed them!

Yep, they eat good quality cat and dog food and as long as they have an adequate supply of food, will steer clear of the pesky little slugs that they dislike almost as much as we do!

We have to find another way to control our slug problem and please DON’T then resort to slug pellets as these do untold damage to other wildlife.  Find natural alternatives where you can.  There are loads of different ideas on how to handle the slug issue and I wouldn’t claim to be an expert in any of them.  We simply don’t get them in our garden really as it’s very sandy soil and they seem to prefer damp, moist conditions.  I cringe now at the thought of putting those horrible little blue pellets around my bedding plants when we were first married, 25 years ago.  Time moves on and we all do things we’re not proud of.

But – there is always time to change, and the time is NOW!

Let’s help our little prickly friends get the food they require, so they only eat the beetles and worms nature intended them to eat – that means less hogs will die of lungworm and the population will at least be more stable.

On top of that – we need to make our gardens more eco-friendly.  Planting stuff that encourages other little critters into our gardens like beetles and worms so the hedgehogs have an abundance of natural food.  More on that in another post.

Go get that pet food!  Good brands though – not though bulked out with tons of cereal, they aren’t too good for hedgies either.

Yvonne ‘Champion of Hedgies’ Richards

Hello from Prickly Hedge

Hello – and a very warm welcome to all you hedgehog and nature lovers from Prickly Hedge HQ.

As the local street co-ordinator, it’s my job to raise the profile of hedgehogs, their decline and what we can do as communities to help them.

We’ll be letting you know all the hints and tips and news from the hedgehog world as it happens.

Thought I’d share a cute video of hedgehogs here

 

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