Don’t be surprised to find hedgehogs roaming around in your garden! These spiny creatures are famous for spending time in all gardens close their natural habitation. But having hedgehogs visit your garden raises a lot of questions. In this post, we’ll go over the main things you need to know about having hedgehogs in your garden. After reading all the useful information, you’ll be perfectly equipped to make their stay perfect and keep them coming back in the future!
Table of Contents
What do you need to know about hedgehogs in your garden?
- Hedgehogs love gardens. Owners can make the gardens more hospitable and less dangerous to the visiting hedgies.
- Bonfires and compost heaps need attention because hedgehogs feel safe inside these materials.
- Slug pellets are dangerous to hedgehogs. Instead, use some natural alternatives like eggshells and coffee grounds.
- Connect the gardens with your neighbors. Hedgehogs need plenty of space to roam around after the sun has set.
- Contact your local wildlife services when you find injured or sick hedgehogs in your garden.
These are just the main points that you should keep in mind when discovering hedgehogs enjoying the food and shade in your garden. In the following sections, we’ll go over each of the questions in a more in-depth fashion. Before committing to make the best of hedgehogs keeping you company in the garden, read through all the paragraphs regarding the food options, safety concerns, and all the other important basics.
What can I do to make my garden safer for hedgehogs?
There are quite a few practical steps you can take to make your garden as safe as possible for hedgehogs. In any unkempt garden, a lot of hazards await the hedgehogs. Each year, many accidents happen in home gardens involving hedgehogs. Most importantly, all of these hazards contribute to the loss of hedgehogs’ lives at a time when their population in home gardens is on a steady decline.
Now, let’s look at what you can do to minimize any dangers for the hedgies visiting your backyard…
Danger #1: Bonfires
- Do you have any bonfires in your garden? Construct them as close to the actual lighting moment as possible. By doing this, you’ll minimize the chance that hedgehogs start to live between the branches. But that’s not enough. Before lighting, go over the bonfires thoroughly to ensure that there’s no wildlife inside. Too many hedgehogs lose their life every year as people light the bonfires without doing any checking beforehand.
Danger #2: Compost heaps
- Similarly to bonfires, compost heaps are another place hedgehogs just love to hide in. Before getting rid of the compost, check inside the heaps. If you have hedgehogs frequenting your garden, there’s a significant chance that they could be enjoying the time inside the compost.
Danger #3: Mowing the lawn
- Mowing the lawn is another danger to hedgehogs. Sometimes, they love to stay in the long grass. And they particularly enjoy spots that are located under the hedges.
Danger #4: Ponds
- Ensure that your ponds have some bricks or other sturdy materials at the sides. Hedgehogs can easily fall in the ponds. If the sides are too high without any additional structures, they will drown inside the pond. The same goes for swimming pools. You obviously won’t build some brick forts next to the pool. Instead, you can make sure that you cover the swimming pool every time when not using them actively. Additionally, you should use the swimming pool covers as an overnight solution.
Danger #5: Slug pellets
- Slug pellets are one of the main reasons for hedgehog deaths in gardens. Putting the pellets in your garden raises the risk of hedgehogs ingesting one of them and getting poisoned as a result. Instead, use alternatives that aren’t dangerous to hedgehogs. For example, people are successful in keeping the slugs at bay using coffee grounds or broken eggshells. If you absolutely insist on using the pellets, then hide them under something where hedgehogs aren’t able to reach them. Still, it’s better to use none at all. Hedgehogs love to eat slugs. When the slugs have been consuming the pellets, then your garden hedgehogs will indirectly get the same chemicals in their bloodstream.
Danger #6: Nets and trash
- Nets and trash are both dangerous things for hedgehogs. First, there could be many different nets in your garden. For example, the nets can be used for playing football or protecting the fruit from scavenging birds and animals. Hedgehogs get easily stuck in these nets. Also, any trash lying around in the garden may become a hazard to the wandering hedgehogs. Typically dangerous trash includes containers, beer cans, plastic cups, and large plastic bottles. Keep your yard clear of any trash: it will benefit the hedgehogs and the overall look of the garden!
What else can I do to keep hedgehogs in my garden?
Cutting all the grass is a sure-fire way to keep hedgehogs away. Don’t cut all of the grass and leave some swaths of untouched grass in your yard! The reason is that hedgehogs can find insects hidden away in the grass. Your best bet is to keep the grass unkempt at your garden’s edges. If you do decide to mow the lawn in this area, be extra careful to see whether any hedgehogs might be spending time in the grass.
Organic gardening isn’t only healthy for you and your family, it’s a perfect way to welcome hedgehogs. Using pesticides kills insects that hedgehogs would love to eat. Also, spraying all that insecticide in your garden means that hedgehogs will be exposed to poisonous chemicals. Additionally, don’t remove any natural hiding places while throwing out all the trash lying around in your garden. These hiding spots include bushes, piles of leaves, sheds, stones, and dead tree roots. The hedgehogs love to spend time hiding away in these naturally formed spots.
What food can I give to garden hedgehogs?
It’s important to never forget that the hedgehogs frequenting your garden are wild animals. Essentially, you shouldn’t provide any food that’s entirely unnatural to them. But we know that people love to hand out treats and really knowing what to give makes a difference. The number one rule is not to hand out any bread or milk. People happen to have these at home, which makes them a convenient choice. But both of these are not food for wild hedgehogs (or any hedgehogs, for that matter).
Dry cat food poses no problem to hedgehogs, but you shouldn’t leave too much of that outside. Otherwise, you could start contributing to hedgehogs’ obesity problem. While obesity is usually something that only domestic hedgehogs have to deal with, there’s a risk that if you overfeed your garden hedgies, they might experience something similar. Also, a bowl of water will always come in handy. All of that exploring around the garden will make the hedgies thirsty!
My neighbors have hedgehogs, I don’t. Why?
One of the most important things for hedgehogs is to have a lot of freedom. They love to roam around. Scientists put tracking devices on hedgehogs and saw that the hedgies moved around for over a mile during any single night. For such small creatures, that’s quite a lot of steps. Hence, it’s very important to have enough space in your garden to search for food.
Another thing to keep in mind is the connectedness of the gardens. Yes, your neighbor’s garden hosts hedgehogs, but are the gardens even connected by an open hole? If not, there’s no point in expecting the hedgehogs to come to your garden. Definitely, they won’t start to climb over the fence. Ensure that both your garden and your neighbor’s one is part of what’s called ‘a hedgehog highway’. Basically, its sole purpose is to ensure a steady pass of hedgehogs from one garden to the other.
What if I find an injured hedgehog in my garden?
Remember that hedgehogs are nocturnal. That means they won’t be lurking around in the garden during the daytime. If you see one of them roaming around when the sun is shining, then there’s a great chance that they are sick or injured. When that happens, then call the closest wildlife rescue services to you. They will be able to offer help and consultation. There are regional differences in dealing with sick or injured wildlife, so the best way is just to contact the services in your state or county.
Not all hedgehogs wandering around are sick. When it’s early autumn, you could easily find newly born hoglets moving around the garden. Usually, they look quite disoriented and can’t seem to find the right way. They won’t survive the harsh winter without proper intervention. The proper course of action is to carry them indoors and put them in a large cage. Feeding them cat food will do just fine. Just make sure not to cause any dangerous situations to the hedgie if you have other pets at home. If everything goes well, you’ll be able to release the hedgehog back to the wild when the spring arrives.
Bottom line: what do garden owners need to know about hedgehogs?
You can count yourself lucky if hedgehogs visit your garden! But there are some things you should know in order to keep the hedgehogs safe and sound. Keep your yard clear from trash because hedgies can get stuck in plastic containers and similar objects. Don’t use slug pellets, these can be a hazard even if your hedgehog doesn’t directly consume the pellets. Leave some water and dry cat food for the hedgehogs. Connect the different gardens, so the hedgehogs would have more room to roam around. When you find an injured or a sick hedgehog, contact your local wildlife services straight away.