Hedgehogs are an important and beloved companion of our garden environments. While they have a varied diet hedgehogs are referred to as insectivores since they like to munch on many different garden invertebrates including snails and slugs, beetles, caterpillars and worms. In that way, they provide a natural pest control for your gardens!
Moreover, hedgehogs are known as a so called ‘indicator species’, meaning they can be seen as a sort of barometer for the health of our local environment. In other words, when hedgehogs are well and thriving, we can assume that other wildlife creatures such as invertebrates will be too. A thriving hedgehog population is also a sign of a diverse and big enough habitat as these are important conditions for hedgehogs to be healthy and happy.
Urbanisation and increased use of pesticides among other things are threatening our hedgehog populations as their habitats are lost or become fragmented and their food sources (invertebrates) are poisoned or few in numbers.
Hedgehogs are mostly nocturnal. They seek shelter under sheds and like to roam around freely while looking for food (especially at night). Our fenced off gardens make that difficult or even impossible so while a dedicated hedgehog home is great, it can only benefit the little creatures if they have access to it! So, South Downs National Park Ranger Jan Knowlson recommends cutting a hole/a few holes in your fence(s) about the size of a CD to create an entry and exit point for them and then “get everyone in your street to do the same”. This way you can help create a hedgehog highway!
Follow this link for an illustrated step by step guide on how to cut/create hedgehog holes.
Chairman and chief horticultural advisor for the ‘Gardening In’ association, Dan Ori says that while you can build a proper hedgehog home “even stacks of wood are fine”! Check out our post about creating habitat piles and dead wood logs shelters here:
If you prefer building a more steady and wooden home for the hedgehogs in your garden you can follow this guide by the Kent wildlife Trust.
Photo by Piotr Łaskawski on Unsplash. Illustration by The Wildlife Trusts.