hedgehog-feeding-station

In the wild, hedgehogs have quite a varied diet as they eat lots of creepy crawlies, called invertebrates, such as: worms, beetles, slugs, caterpillars, and millipedes. Hedgehogs have been known to attempt to eat wasps and bees before as their stings interestingly do not affect them, but hedgehogs will usually enjoy eating frogs, baby rodents and bird’s eggs, too – if they are lucky!

As hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, they hunt for the delicious creepy crawlies at night, which can often be found in hedgerows, undergrowth or in the soil. When hedgehogs are foraging for their dinner, they often make a loud snuffling noise as they search. Some people say this sounds similar to a pig’s grunt, which is why they are called ‘hedgehogs’.

Feeding hedgehogs in your garden

With winter fast approaching, food in the wild will soon become sparse, meaning not all hedgehogs will have enough fat stored. For this reason, you should provide food for wild hedgehogs in your garden ahead of the change in weather.

In your garden, you should try to provide a safe habitat for hedgehogs and supplement their natural diet. You can do this by providing nutritious dry and wet food that is high in protein in your garden, such as Spike’s Crunchy Dry or Spike’s Meaty Feast. This will not replace their natural diet, but instead act as a supplement or an addition.

You should also leave out a shallow bowl of fresh water every night for the hedgehogs so they can stay hydrated while on their journey. It is important that you do not leave out milk for hedgehogs, this is a common myth, as they are lactose intolerant and milk can make them quite ill.

Building a hedgehog feeding station

Putting food out in your garden is bound to attract other types of wildlife, including predators, like foxes. 

To prevent this from happening, you could create a hedgehog feeding station, which will make it much more difficult for larger animals to access and steal the food that is intended for hedgehogs. The station could be created from an upside-down plastic box with a piece of piping leading inside, where the food and the water will be safely placed.

As multiple hedgehogs could be feeding from the same station, be sure to wash the compartments thoroughly and use shallow bowls for your spiky visitors and be sure to keep these separate from those that you use yourselves or for other pets.

Beginner's Guide To Hedgehogs

This time of the year sees the arrival of thousands of baby hedgehogs across the country and, with less of us going on holiday this summer, we’re getting more sightings than ever of these tiny spiky mammals. 

While June and July are the typical birthing season for hoglets, after the mating season in early summer, hedgehogs often have a second litter of hoglets in August and September.

This time of the year is crucial for hedgehogs, as they need to build up fat stores ahead of hibernation in October or November. 

However, with less food and water available due to urban sprawl and the use of pesticides killing insect populations – which are their main food source – many aren’t able to build up the reserves they need to make it through winter. 

Officially classed as a ‘vulnerable to extinction’ species according to The Mammal Society’s Red List, if you spot a hedgehog in your garden for the first time, check out our hedgehog guide for beginners so you know what to do. 

How to help hedgehogs in your garden

If you want to help protect one of Britain’s best-loved animals, there are lots of simple tips and tricks to make life a little easier for them:

  1. Leave a small gap in your garden fence to allow them to get in and out easily. You could even chat with your neighbours and encourage them to do the same, this creates a safe Hedgehog Highway through your gardens, which is crucial to their mating rituals and feeding habits.
  2. Leave out hedgehog food, such as Spike’s Tasty Semi-Moist, and water in a shallow bowl to help them build up fat stores ahead of winter.
  3. Create a hedgehog habitat, using a plastic tub with a lid with a 15cm hole cut out for access, and place bricks on top to keep secure from predators. Put a little hay or grass inside and cover the top with leaves to make them feel at home.
  4. Leave an area of grass uncut to grow wild  because not only are lawnmowers responsible for a large number of hedgehog injuries, but keeping the grass long helps encourage more insects  into your garden which acts as a food source for hedgehogs.
  5. Help us record hedgehog population numbers in your area by noting any sightings on our Hedgehog Hotspot Map at https://www.spikesfood.co.uk/submit-sighting/

Hedgehog Myths vs. Facts 

Despite being one of our favourite British species, there’s still a lot of misleading information out there that could potentially harm hedgehogs. 

MYTH 1: ‘Hedgehogs like milk and bread​’

BUSTER 1: Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. Instead, leave them a shallow bowl of water and something to eat which is protein based, like Spike’s Tasty Semi-Moist.​

MYTH 2: ‘Hedgehogs transmit fleas to your pets​’
BUSTER 2: Hedgehogs are often labelled as ‘fleabags’. However, the hedgehog flea (archaeopsylla erinacei) can only survive on hedgehogs. If the flea was transmitted onto your pet, it would simply drop off.​

MYTH 3 ‘Hedgehogs hibernate all winter long’
BUSTER 3: Hedgehogs will often venture out from time to time during the hibernation period to top up on food and even move nests!

What now for hedgehogs?

Despite these challenges, there are reasons to hope. Lockdown saw a mini-resurgence in hedgehog population levels and we’re hoping our efforts to raise awareness about the need to protect UK wildlife will continue to boost numbers. 

Hedgehog Garden

Despite hedgehogs being named Britain’s favourite mammal in 2016, some Brits are still unsure as to what to do if they have a hedgehog visit their garden and more importantly, how to keep their gardenhedgehog friendly and casualty-free. 

How to prepare a Hedgehog friendly garden 

Here are our top tips that keep the prickly visitors safe and happy for when they next come to visit: 

1.  Leave a nutritious bowl of food and water out 

The hedgehogs and their newly born hoglets are going to be very hungry and thirsty, so we recommend leaving out a bowl of nutritious food for them to eat, such as our Crunchy Dry Food alongside a bowl of water.
 

2. Create a small gap in your fence  

Create a small hedgehog size hole in your fence, so that they can pass through safely and easily on their journey to other gardens as well as yours. We’d recommend making your hole approximately 15cm wide so hedgehogs can easily fit through the gap.
 

3. Cover any exposed drains  

It is important to cover any exposed drains in your garden as it is easy for small hedgehogs to get trapped and potentially suffer from chemical burns from the residue of your kitchen cleaning products, which would be very distressing for the hoglets 

4. Clear your garden of any rubbish 

Hedgehogs are curious creaturesmeaning that they sometimes rummage through any open rubbish bags, which may contain sharp objects, like a tin can lid. We’d always recommend ensuring that your rubbish bags are tied tightly so hedgehogs and their hoglets can’t make their way inside. 

Hedgehogs also love to nest in bin bags, so it is vital that you check them before throwing them away! 

5. Avoid using pesticides and other garden chemicals 

Many pesticides and other garden chemicals contain poisons – for example slug pellets  which are deadly to hedgehogs and other garden wildlife. We would advise you to use more organic methods, such as soapy water, marigolds, or peppermint plants. Hedgehogs like to munch on bugs so often they are a natural form of pest control themselves 

If you do need to use pesticides as a last resort, it is important that you read the ingredients and instructions on how to use beforehand to ensure that you are using them safely. 

6. Build a ramp for any ponds or pools in your garden 

Although hedgehogs are surprisingly good swimmers, they can become exhausted and drown if they cannot escape the pond or pool easily. 

For this reason, we suggest that you build a ramp around the edge of your pond or to leave a piece of chicken wire at the edge of your poolwhich will act as an escape ladder for the hedgehog. 

Submit your hedgehog sighting 

Once you have made your garden hedgehog-friendly and you do see a hedgehog, we encourage you to record your sighting in our online Hedgehog Hotspot Map at https://www.spikesfood.co.uk/submit-sighting/ which will help us track population levels of hedgehogs moving forward. 

Fill out the form with the date, time, location, photo, plus any other noteworthy information, in order to help educate your neighbours as to where and when they can expect spiky visitors in your area, so that they too can help to do all they can to care.

Hedgehog Sightings During Lockdown

We’re encouraging you to get in involved in our campaign to help record hedgehog sightings, as populations enjoy a resurgence.

Hedgehogs across the UK have used the quiet of the lockdown to indulge in some “noisy lovemaking”, according to experts who are now predicting a boom in hoglets this summer.

With more of us spending time outside and in our gardens, we’re seeing a huge increase in hedgehog sightings as well as many reports of hedgehogs mating.

Britain’s wildlife appears to have benefitted from the UK lockdown, as less cars on the road means there has been a dramatic drop in the number of roadkill accidents.

A recent study from Nottingham Trent University revealed that the mortality rate for hedgehogs has nearly halved as people were urged to stay at home, with data showing that between the last week of March and the first week of April, around 140 hedgehog deaths were recorded, compared with up to 381 for the same period in 2019

Hoglet Baby Boom’

Hedgehog numbers have been in sharp decline for decades, with the last report from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, showing that hedgehog populations in rural areas have halved since 2000. In urban areas, they have fallen by 30 per cent.

However, there is some good news. Much like the anticipated human baby boom in early 2021, we believe the rise in reported hedgehog sightings and mating instances could lead to a hedgehog ‘baby boom’ in June and July, which is when the six-week gestation period typically finishes.

Stay vigilant

This is fantastic news for wildlife lovers everywhere in the UK. However, now that lockdown rules are starting to lift, we’re urging people to stay vigilant to hedgehogs when they’re out and about or in the garden.

If you want to encourage hedgehogs into your garden, putting just a small gap in your garden fence to allow them to get in and out easily or leaving out hedgehog food and water are just two simple ways you can help them survive as habitat loss continues to threaten their existence.

We need your help in ensuring that one of Britain’s best loved animals continues to thrive. As well as making your garden a little more hedgehog-friendly, recording any hedgehog sightings in our online Hedgehog Hotspot map at https://www.spikesfood.co.uk/submit-sighting/ will help us track levels moving forwards.

Fill out the form with the date, time, location, photo, plus any other noteworthy information, in order to help educate your neighbours as to where and when they can expect spiky visitors in your area, so that they too can help to do all they can to care.