Help the Hedgehogs by Kelsey Warren-McCann
This article by Kelsey Warren-McCann of Wallflower Wildflower was originally published in issue 11 of the Procrastination Paper, but as it's British Garden Wildlife Week May 31-June 6 I thought I'd publish it here too!
Hedgehogs may be Britain's favourite wildlife species, but we are not only failing to protect them, we are contributing to their decline. It's estimated hogs could be extinct within a decade. As a keystone species, if they are struggling, it shows what a dire crisis the whole ecosystem is in. Our actions affect all life on Earth, so let's care and be kind. Here are some tips on how to help our prickly friends...
Do create hedgehog highways - a small 13cm by 13cm hole in a fence is sufficient for any hedgehog to pass through.
Do move bonfire piles before lighting them and light from one side.
Do add ramps to ponds to allow exit from water sources.
Do check gardens before strimming etc.
Do feed and water them. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant so should never be given milk. Water is perfect and much needed; 90% of all hogs coming into care are dehydrated. Wet and dry cat food is fine - no need for expensive hedgehog food. It's a myth that hogs can't eat fish flavoured food, but many don't like it.
Do make hedgehog houses, create compost heaps and leave leaf litter for them to nest in.
Do avoid leaving out netting/wire/litter they can become tangled in.
Do let an area of your garden grow wild.
Don't put up a solid fence, if you can avoid doing so - hedgerows are much friendlier to wildlife, allowing access, shelter and sometimes food.
Don't feed hedgehogs bread, milk, peanuts, sunflower seeds or mealworms. Feeding mealworms in any circumstance is incredibly dangerous, causing metabolic bone disease.
Don't keep your garden pristine. Wild gardens (or wild patches) are a haven.
Don't use pesticides or harmful slug pellets.
Don't pick hedgehogs up for fun - stress weakens their immune system.
Don't ignore hogs. If you see an injured hedgehog, or one out in the daytime, call your local wildlife rescue centre.