How to Encourage Hedgehogs to Your Garden

I love hedgehogs, they are such beautiful creatures and it's the time of the year when they will be hibernating in your garden.

Created by David Coton on Thursday, 9th of January, 2014.
Updated on Friday, 25th of April, 2014.

Wildlife World Hedgehog House

The heartbreaking reason for me writing this is that the hedgehog population is declining each year.

So encouraging them into your garden and looking after hedgehogs is important, if you value wildlife and the benefits that they bring.

Every animal needs looking after for them to survive.

So make them feel at home with a safe place to live and suitable food. 

Hedgehog Gardening Tips

Forget about manicuring the whole of the garden. Here are some ideas for keeping your hedgehogs happy:

  • Leave an overgrown patch with logs, leaves and prunings.
  • Provide them with a dry cosy home, just right for hibernation.
  • You can build one from an old box with some straw inside or buy a ready made nest.
  • I would recommend the Wildlife World Hedgehog House. Its spacious and safe and will blend in with your garden.

What to Look Out for with Hedgehogs?

What you don't want to leave around the garden includes cans that aren't crushed, those plastic loops that hold them together, bottles and cartons. Wire mesh, barbed wire and netting are also hedgehog death traps.

Be careful with insecticides and other pesticides including slug pellets, if hedgehogs eat the corpses of garden pests they'll also ingest the poison. Buy wildlife friendly brands that are easily obtainable.

Remember to clean up any spillages in the shed, you don't want noxious substances seeping through the boards onto any hedgehogs below.

When you're gardening, watch out for hedgehogs in the long grass. Strimmers and lawnmowers aren't hedgehog friendly at all.

Ensure that there's a gap in your fence to let hedgehogs through, they can forage for long distances and fences are insurmountable barriers. 

Give Hedgehogs an Escape Route

Although hedgehogs can swim (yes hedgehogs can swim), make sure they can extricate themselves from ponds by having sloping sides and from swimming pools by hanging a length of chicken wire over the edge.

Cover up any open drains, hedgehogs can fall in and might not get out.

If you enjoy the November 5th festivities, or use bonfires to get rid of garden rubbish, check for hedgehogs first before lighting them. They like a warm place to nest but not that hot.

It's also worth while checking a compost heap before digging into it with a spade.

What Food do Hedgehogs Eat?

Food is a top priority when looking after hedgehogs. Dog or cat food that doesn't contain fish is ideal but, as hedgehogs are omnivores, there's lots of other food they'll eat in addition to the specially prepared hedgehog food that's also available.

Any cooked left over chicken, lamb, turkey or beef (without gravy) will be eaten, but avoid salty bacon.

Chopped unsalted peanuts and sultanas are good together with most vegetables, bananas, apples, mango but not citrus fruits. Chop the food up as hedgehogs cannot chew or easily tear up large pieces. 

The best time for feeding hedgehogs is at night. Any food should be removed in the morning so that flies aren't attracted and the dish washed ready for the evening.

What do Hedgehogs Drink?

Provide them with plenty of water but not milk as this can't be digested properly and can lead to dehydration and death.

Food and water should be left out all year round, even when hedgehogs are hibernating they may wake up and need food, if you go on holiday ask a neighbour to help.

If hedgehogs can't find food during the summer they're liable to fall victim to parasites and disease and they need to put on weight to see them through hibernation.

Looking after hedgehogs isn't rocket science, all they need is a warm nest and nutritious food, they've been around for 15 million years so we don't want to lose them now.

Have you got a hedgehog in your garden? If you haven't then look out during the next couple of days and you might see one. 

Further Information

Read my other blog on What do Hedgehogs Eat In Your Garden? For more information. 

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society is a great source of information about hedgehogs.

The BBC also have a dedicated page about hedgehogs on their wildlife pages: BBC Nature Wildlife - Hedgehogs

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