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A brief guide to looking after hedgehogs in your garden

Vine House Farm tell you how you can help the prickly little mammals in your garden. Make sure any spiky visitors to your garden are well fed and well looked after with these great tips.
























Spotted some hedgehogs in the garden but aren't sure how to best take care of them? Don't worry - we've got you covered. The following hints and tips are based on the best practices for hedgehogs. 



The biggest tip when it comes to looking after your spiky friends is to never give them bread or milk. Because they can’t digest either of them, it can actually upset their stomach and leave them very unwell.


So, what can you leave out for hedgehogs?

  • Puppy and kitten food – stick to meat flavours and avoid leaving wet food out in winter.
  • Leftover, cooked, unprocessed meats – chicken is best. They love it!
  • Specialist hedgehog food – available online and in good pet stores.
  • Eggs – hard-boiled or plain scrambled, hedgehogs love eggs!
  • Chopped peanuts – plain peanuts only.
  • Raisins/Sultanas
  • Water

What else can you do to look after the hedgehogs in your garden..?


Avoid using pesticides and slug pellets where possible. There are so many great alternatives available that don't harm hedgehogs, there's no real need to use them. Sadly, hedgehogs don't know not to eat slug pellets and they also have a habit of eating poisoned slugs - both of which make them very poorly. 


So, instead of pellets and pesticides, why not try one of the following:


  • Putting bowls of stale beet into holes in the ground
  • Sprinkling coffee grounds around the base of plants
  • Putting copper bands around the base of your plants

 
I know - these sound pretty crazy. But, trust us, they really do work!


Approach your compost heap with caution.


Okay, so you don't need to creep up on it like you're a ninja...just be aware that a hedgehog - for a family of hedgehogs - may have decided to make your compost heap their home. To you, it might just be a pile of rotting waste but to them, it's luxurious. It's cosy and full of yummy worms - what more could they want?!


So if you're going to be moving it about or are planning on putting lots of stuff in there, just be careful.


Build bonfires on the day.


Chances are you won’t be having bonfires all that often – maybe only on fireworks night. But however often you build them, it’s important to build them on the day.


Why? Because hedgehogs see this as a place to build their home. They don’t know you’re about to light it on fire – they just see it as a cosy place to sleep and, potentially, hibernate. Building it on the day means there’s less chance of any hedgehogs crawling in.


Lighting your bonfire from one side is also a good idea. That way, if any cute little hedgehogs have crawled in, they have an escape route to get out.


Watch out for high grass.


Let’s face it; sometimes we can get a bit lazy with the gardening. Mowing the lawn can become one of those tasks you put off for tomorrow… and the next day… until suddenly your grass has got a little bit too high.


Before you start to tackle the problem, it’s worth taking a look and seeing if there are any little hedgehogs hiding in the grass.


Bin it.


“Bin what?” we hear you cry. Bin your litter. Most of us are pretty good with keeping our gardens clean but every so often the wind sweeps something in, or a guest leaves something lying around. So just keep an eye on litter.


If your postman accidentally drops an elastic band, pick it up before hedgehogs can find themselves caught up in it. If you have friends round, make sure they don’t leave any 6-pack rings lying around. The last thing you’ll want is a hedgehog to get caught in one.


Like we say, most of us are pretty good at this anyway but it’s worth being super careful if you think you get any spiky little visitors.


Build it and they will come.


If you really want to make sure your hedgehogs are safe all year round, you build them a little hedgehog house. And if DIY’s not your thing (don’t worry, you’re not alone!), you can buy one online.


They’re designed to protect them from predators – so they have somewhere nice and safe to hibernate in winter.



Vine House Farm


Image credits: Top image (c) Tom Marshall; Second image (c) Richard Bowler

 

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