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.

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.

Photo credit: British Hedgehog Preservation Society

By building a hedgehog feeding station, you can encourage hedgehogs to visit your garden without worry of other animals, such as your cat or dog, stealing the food you provide for your spiky visitors. A feeding station will also protect the hedgehog and its food from inclement weather.

You only need this simple list of materials to build your hedgehog feeding station:

  • Large plastic or wooden box
  • Hacksaw or strong scissors*
  • Strong, thick tape
  • 2 bricks or large stones

How to build a hedgehog feeding station:

  1. The first step would be to carefully cut, using a hacksaw for a wooden box or scissors for a plastic box, a 13cmx13cm/4.5’’x4.5’’ hole in one side of the box. This will be your hedgehog entrance point.
  2. Next, if using a plastic box, ensure that all sharp edges are covered with thick tape. This will ensure that the hedgehog will not be harmed by any sharp bits.
  3. Turn the box upside down and place your hedgehog food and water at the furthest point away from the hedgehog entrance.
  4. Place one of your bricks on top of the plastic box to ensure that the box does not fall over or move and expose the hedgehog and its food.
  5. Place the second brick approximately 13cm away from the hedgehog entrance point.

And there you have it… your own hedgehog feeding station! We’re sure that your spiky garden visitors will love their new restaurant!

What do hedgehogs eat?

In the wild, the majority of a hedgehog’s diet is made up of invertebrates (creepy crawlies) like worms, beetles, caterpillars, earwigs and millipedes. But hedgehogs can also eat specialist hedgehog food like Spike’s. Also make sure to leave a dish of water out to help keep your hedgehog visitors hydrated.

When should I put out my hedgehog house?

Hedgehogs hibernate during the winter months, so the best time to put your hedgehog house is between April and October.

*Please always be careful when using sharp objects. Children should seek assistance from a parent or guardian.

Hedgehogs need our help to ensure their survival now more than ever, as numbers in the UK have dropped from 30 million in the 1950s, to fewer than one million today*. We have put together this handy list of top tips so that you can get to know the ways in which you can do your bit to help save our spiky friends:

Cultivate a wild corner in your garden to make your hedgehog feel at home. Hedgehogs love to hide and wild corners also provide a natural food source.

How to help hedgehogs in your garden

  1. Avoid using slug pellets and other strong pesticides if possible. These are extremely harmful to hedgehogs.
  2. Leave a ramp or slope out of your pond so hogs can climb out
  3. Avoid handling baby hogs unless orphaned, as the mother will abandon them. If you do have to handle a sick or injured hedgehog, ensure you are wearing protective gloves i.e. gardening gloves or thick plastic ones
  4. Hogs seen in daylight are usually hungry, thirsty or ill. When in doubt, contact your local hedgehog hospital
  5. Leave food and water out in shallow dishes each evening at dusk
  6. If you have a fully fenced garden, ensure that you create a ‘hedgehog highway’ by cutting a small hole in the bottom of your fence so that hedgehogs can come and go as they please.

*sourced from gracethehedgehog.co.uk: https://www.gracethehedgehog.co.uk/about-hedgehogs/197-general-facts

What is an autumn juvenile hedgehog?

Autumn juveniles are second littler hogs. They are born later in the year and therefore have a shorter time to get up to hibernation weight. An autumn juvenile hedgehog is one which is old enough to be away from its mother, yet too small to hibernate for the winter. The autumn juvenile season usually begins in September and ends in November. Being an autumn juvenile can cause problems for a hedgehog, as it will not have enough time to build up the necessary amount of fat in order to hibernate for the winter due to long, cold nights and lack of food availability.

How can I tell if an autumn juvenile needs help?

Yearlings will need to get their weight to 600g or more in order to give themselves the best chances of survival. It is highly unlikely that a hedgehog will survive if it weighs 450g or less.

How can I help autumn juveniles?

If you would like to do all that you can to help our spiky friends, a good way to start is by providing a good food source for them. It is advised that food should be left out for hedgehogs all year round nowadays, as some hogs will be seen well into the winter season and have been sighted even past Christmas. Through the winter months, it might be a good idea to provide Spike’s Crunchy Dry Food, always ensuring that there is clean, fresh water available for our friends.

If you spot a hedgehog out in the day, it could be a tell-tale sign that the hog is poorly and needs medical attention. If you see a hedgehog which appears to be in need of assistance, take it inside, place in a high-sided cardboard box lined with a sheet, towel without holes or ripped up newspaper and ensure that the hog has heat by placing a well-wrapped hot water bottle inside the box. If you are placing a hot water bottle in the box, make sure that the hedgehog has enough room to move away from the hot water bottle to avoid overheating. It is vital to keep this hot water bottle warm, as letting it go cold will do more harm than good. Ensure that you check the temperature of the hot water bottle very frequently and change the water if necessary. Some autumn juveniles may need over-wintering and the best place for this is at a hedgehog rescue.

Once you have taken all of the advised steps stated above, you can contact The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) on 01584 890 801 who will further assist you on next steps.  If you think that the hedgehog needs urgent or professional medical attention, you can take it to your local veterinary practice.

With reference to:

‘Autumn juveniles’: https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/leaflets/L15-Autumn-Juveniles.pdf

‘Autumn juvenile hedgehog care’: https://www.arkwildlife.co.uk/Wildlife/Post/179/Autumn_Juvenile_Hedgehog_Care.html

 

How can I tell if a hedgehog is sick?

A hedgehog seen out in the day is uncommon. Seeing one out in daylight could be a key indicator that the hedgehog is sick and in need of your help, especially if it is during winter time when most hedgehogs should be hibernating. Sick hedgehogs could be thin, dehydrated, possibly poisoned or have breathing problems. Injured hedgehogs may be seen with open wounds, fractures, bites or burns.

Image credit: Bill Fairs

If you suspect a hedgehog is sick, in the first instance, you should visually examine it in order to gage an understanding as to whether or not it may need medical attention. Things you can look out for are:

  1. Does its skin spring back when you pull up a couple of spines? If the skin appears to stay in place, the hedgehog could be dehydrated. Ensure the hedgehog has access to plenty of water if you suspect dehydration.
  2. Does the hedgehog look thin? It could be malnourished and will need a nutritious food source in order to build up its weight.
  3. Does the hedgehog have a funny smell? It could have an infection somewhere on its body, meaning it will more than likely need professional medical attention.
  4. Is the hedgehog having trouble breathing/coughing? This could be a sign of lungworm and the hog will need urgent medical attention.

What should I do if I find a sick or injured hedgehog?

If you are concerned about a hedgehog which you have come across, you should think carefully about deciding what to do next. You should not take a hedgehog too far away from where you originally found it unless it is severely injured, in which case you should take it to the vet or a local hedgehog rescue centre in a sturdy, high-sided cardboard box lined with a sheet, towel without holes or ripped up newspaper. If you find a hedgehog alive and in a dangerous place, for example on a main road, you should move it to a safe location nearby to where you found it. Ensure that you wear thick gloves at all times when handling a hedgehog to avoid being pricked.

If you are caring for a sick hedgehog, it is important that they have a good heat source from, for example, a heat lamp or well-wrapped hot water bottle (to avoid burning the hedgehog). The hedgehog will also need to be kept clean, meaning its ‘bedding’ (i.e. the towel, sheet or ripped up newspaper) will need to be changed daily.

Sick or injured hedgehogs are susceptible to hypothermia. You can look out for symptoms such as the hedgehog staggering around or ‘sunbathing’ (spreading themselves out on the floor in an attempt to quickly get some heat into their bodies). If you suspect that a hedgehog has hypothermia, again, take it inside placed in a high-sided cardboard box lined with a sheet, towel without holes or ripped up newspaper and ensure that the hog has heat by placing a well-wrapped hot water bottle inside the box. If you are placing a hot water bottle in the box, make sure that the hedgehog has enough room to move away from the hot water bottle to avoid overheating. It is vital to keep this hot water bottle warm, as letting it go cold will do more harm than good. Ensure that you check the temperature of the hot water bottle frequently and change the water if necessary.  

Once you have taken all of the advised steps stated above, you can contact The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) on 01584 890 801 who will further assist you on next steps.  If you think that the hedgehog needs urgent or professional medical attention, you can take it to your local veterinary practice.

With reference to:

‘Care and Treatment of Sick and Injured Hedgehogs by The British Hedgehog Preservation Society’: https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/leaflets/L8-Care-and-Treatment.pdf

‘Sick or injured hedgehog? What to do if you find a hedgehog that looks unwell’: https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/sick-or-injured-hedgehog/

What is lungworm?

Lungworm occurs when there is an infestation of the lungs with parasitic worms. Slugs are carriers of lungworm and as a hedgehog’s natural diet contains slugs, this is where part of the problem lies. A hedgehog can become very ill due to the amount of slugs it consumes within its diet.

How is lungworm diagnosed?

Some tell-tale signs of lungworm which you can look out for in hedgehogs are wheezing, coughing, gurgling, snuffling, respiratory distress and loss of weight and appetite in hedgehogs.
Diagnosis of lungworm can be achieved by microscopic examination of hedgehog faeces to look for Crenosoma larvae or Capillaria eggs, with help from a medical professional.

Hedgehogs which appear in your garden are wild and there is no known control for lungworm in free-living wild hedgehogs at this moment in time. This being said, you can do your bit to help with trying to prevent it.

How can I reduce the risk of lungworm?

If you feed wild hedgehogs in your garden, make sure that you are consistently and thoroughly cleaning feeding sites to prevent accumulation of faeces. If you rotate the hedgehog feeding site,
you will also be helping to reduce accumulation of faeces.

If you are handling a hedgehog, always make sure that you are wearing thick gardening or rubber
gloves and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.

You can also reduce the amount of slugs that our spiky friends consume by offering an alternative
food source. We suggest providing daily hedgehog food and to also build a wild corner or log pile
which will encourage insects and bugs to thrive in your garden. Both of these methods will make our
hogs extremely happy.

With reference to:

Lungworm in hedgehogs

Care and Treatment of Sick and Injured Hedgehogs by The British Hedgehog Preservation Society

Lungworm kills hedgehogs