According to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, numbers of our prickly pals are on the decline. I think this is very sad, and we should look after the ones we have left before we potentially lose these iconic creatures from British gardens.
Hedgehogs are intrepid creatures and they enjoy roaming around large spaces – an area the size of at least ten back gardens! The first thing you need to do to help hedgehogs into your garden is to give them a way in… we’ve cut a small hole in our garden fence to give the local hedgehogs access from the garden next door (we also nailed a tiny pitched roof over the hole, which isn’t essential but is very cool – see the photo in the gallery below).
Hedgehogs will travel up to two miles a night for a good meal, and giving they only have little legs I think this is pretty amazing. Place a dish of something tasty in a sheltered area to make it tricky for cats, dogs and other hungry animals to get at it, and don’t forget to provide a little bowl of fresh water too. They can eat the following goodies: – Dried mealworms, sunflower hearts, and crushed peanuts. – Hedgehog food, such as Spike’s Dinner and Spike’s Tasty Semi-Moist, which is wonderfully nutritious for hedgehogs of all ages, including baby hedgehogs (“urchins”!). – Wet cat and dog food (no fish please, as apparently it can make them feel quite sick!) such as Nature’s Menu Beef and Chicken tins and Nature Diet Chicken pouches. – This great mix of dried mealworms with raisins and sultanas can be given as an occasional treat to liven up their after dark visits. Raisins and sultanas aren’t a staple part of the diet, but make a tasty surprise for your regulars!
What about bread and milk?
I decided to do some research into the reasons why the previously popular choice of bread and milk is harmful to hedgehogs. It seems that the combination of bread and milk is too soft for proper dental care, which when you consider they’re used to scoffing the crunchy bugs in the garden (nice!), it becomes obvious why this is the case.
Also, hedgehogs are apparently lactose intolerant and can end up with tummy ache and diarrhoea. On top of that, milk is iron deficient and according to the experts, can lead to a dietary imbalance because hedgehogs love milk and have been known to choose it over healthier options! Some people use whole fat milk to fatten up their snuffly visitors for winter hibernation, but offering good quality tinned dog and cat foods does a much better job without the above problems.