Home > Garden Mammals > Caring for Hedgehogs in the Garden

Caring for Hedgehogs in the Garden

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 23 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Hedgehogs In Garden Caring For Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are a useful ally to gardeners in that they eat snails slugs and other pests which can cause damage to plants. Their numbers are in decline which is partially due to environmental pollution and the steadily increasing loss of their own natural habitat.

How We Can Help Hedgehogs
In order to help hedgehogs, gardeners should avoid using slug pellets because, as well as hedgehogs helping you get rid of a slug problem naturally, the pellets can also kill hedgehogs and even if they don’t eat the pellets directly, if the slugs they eat have been poisoned, this will also be absorbed into the hedgehogs’ body tissue too. You can supplement a hedgehog’s natural diet especially in autumn when they need to accumulate fat before they go into hibernation for the winter.

What to Feed Hedgehogs
Tinned cat or dog food and even dry dog food is a useful addition to a hedgehog’s diet. They’ll also eat things like bacon rind. You should also ensure that you put out fresh water with any food you leave but you shouldn’t feed a hedgehog milk or bread in large amounts as they can cause diarrhoea.

Providing Nesting Sites
Although some gardeners choose to build hedgehog houses, they are very resourceful creatures and will make nest sites under sheds, amongst piles of wood and under mounds of leaves so it’s useful to keep a part of your garden a little bit ‘wild’ if you want to attract hedgehogs to it.

Beware Of Holes and Ponds
Hedgehogs seem to have little fear of danger when it comes to locations into which they might fall, so you should keep ponds covered along with any steep-sided holes you might have in your garden. Falling into drains is another problem which hedgehogs can encounter. If it’s not possible to cover holes entirely, you should create some small makeshift ramps out of small planks near to any dangerous holes so that if a hedgehog should suffer a misfortunate fall, it can climb out again with relative ease. Some people with ponds, for example, will often place chunks of polystyrene in the pond which can act as a makeshift float until a hedgehog can be safely rescued.

Making a Careful Check
Always check carefully before carrying out any routine gardening duties. If you’ve been gathering wood and other material which you intend burning on a bonfire, for example, check underneath it first before lighting as this is an obvious place for a hedgehog to build its nest. Likewise, when using spades, forks, mowers and strimmers etc., be sure that you are not operating your equipment in a location where a hedgehog might be seeking refuge or hibernating. Netting can also cause problems with hedgehogs getting trapped within it. You should keep an eye on any netting which you are using to cover plants off the ground – the same goes for similar material such as barbed wire.

Contact With Hedgehogs
Whilst having a hedgehog in your garden can seem very similar to keeping a pet (especially to children), it’s important to remember that these are wild animals and their spines are also sharp, so you should avoid picking one up unless you suspect that it’s injured. They can also harbour hedgehog fleas so personal contact should be avoided where possible. If you do have to pick up a hedgehog, make sure you wear suitable gardening gloves.

Injured Hedgehogs
Hedgehogs are generally nocturnal creatures so if you do see one in the daytime, it’s possible that it’s injured or sick. New borns found wandering around in a disoriented fashion in early autumn are possibly not going to be able to survive the winter without human intervention but they are extraordinarily capable of adapting to being brought indoors. A large box or cage with straw at the bottom in a ventilated room is perfect, but once again remember that they carry with them a whole armada of fleas and ticks so if you have other pets be wary and try to handle them as little as possible as hedgehogs are not pets after all. Your pet might not take too kindly to this extra presence either. However, if things seem to be working out OK, a hedgehog can survive on a diet of dog and cat food along with regular drinking water until it’s safe to release it in the springtime. If you require more help because of a sick or injured hedgehog in your garden, call your local RSPCA or the British Hedgehog Preservation Society for more advice.

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Not knowing whether or not I had hedgehogs visiting the garden, I had my husband make me a hedgehog house last year.There had been no sign of any hedgehogs at all until about three weeks ago, when I happened to look in the box and was very excited to see one had taken up residence.I put out dried hog food, plus a little cat food and fresh water every night.Food all gets eaten, but I am a little concerned that I have never seen the hog come out foraging at all.Looked in his box last night at 10 o'clock, - obviously quite dark by then - and he was still in there.Does anyone know if this is normal behaviour?Don't like to disturb it because someone suggested it might be pregnant as some occasionally do at this time of year!
Bluebird - 23-Sep-17 @ 2:08 PM
We have 4 possibly 6 hedgehogs in the garden. They come out after lunchtime - after 2pm, and one is rather large, looks like the mother, and the rest are smaller, they are the children. They roam continuously across our small garden all the time, which has lots of small bushes and hedges. We have given them a little bread and water, and they all seem very healthy, and one is very tame. We know that they are nocturnal animals and only if they have a problem, do they venture out in daylight, but our hedgehogs are coming out in the afternoon all the time. Should we be worried about this? Should we doing anything to help these hedgehogs. What is the best things for them to eat? What is the best course of action to take about our roaming hedgies?
Mish - 22-Sep-17 @ 2:42 PM
morty - Your Question:
My wife and I are in our late 70,s, and not very good with digital contact.We have these 3 or 4 Hedgehogs coming into our patio every night because we are leaving out the food that they eat. We have now started off with one house for Hoggs and we have one in residence. Should we have more houses in our patio? and see if any of the others want to reside with us?

Our Response:
Hello there. We really can't advise on specific issues like this...please try contacting the British Hedgehog preservation society, here for more information.
WildlifeGardener - 18-Sep-17 @ 2:11 PM
My wife and I are in our late 70,s, and not very good with digital contact. We have these 3 or 4 Hedgehogs coming into our patio every night because we are leaving out the food that they eat. We have now started off with one house for Hoggs and we have one in residence. Should we have more houses in our patio? and see if any of the others want to reside with us?
morty - 16-Sep-17 @ 6:27 PM
Were can i get a cheap house for the hedgehogs and i can put the food and weter in to it.
Nillie - 25-Aug-17 @ 7:49 AM
I get one/three every night and i hope out weter and hedgehogs food for them .
Nillie - 25-Aug-17 @ 7:46 AM
firebird69 - Your Question:
We have discovered we have two hedgehogs visiting the garden have built a den in our disused shed , we left dome hay outside and now that has disappeared into there den,We are leaving lots of dried mealworm and fresh water out for them toWill they hibernate together or should I provide another area for one of them?

Our Response:
It's probably best to leave them to nature. If they made their own den to start with, they are probably capable of doing so again if another is needed.
WildlifeGardener - 8-Aug-17 @ 12:28 PM
We have one hedgehog house at the most but have purchased another two,can they be put next to each other?There are three adults and two babies.
Scary - 7-Aug-17 @ 1:07 PM
We have discovered we have two hedgehogs visiting the garden have built a den in our disused shed , we left dome hay outside and now that has disappeared into there den, We are leaving lots of dried mealworm and fresh water out for them to Will they hibernate together or should I provide another area for one of them?
firebird69 - 6-Aug-17 @ 3:47 AM
I love reading these messages and they have given me food fir thought. I was in my front garden last night with my little papillon only 1 year old and he jumped out of his skin and ran into my hall it was a hedgehog and I saw it scurry away into my bushes then it popped out again.I don't want to disturb it or themore not sure how many are in there but I will putility water and some dof food down tonight ato dusk for them. We must feed these little critters up now prior to the winter months. I guess we are very lucky if they chose our garden to reside in as their numbers are on the decline we don't want to have a world without these cute little critters who have fun roaming our gardens at night do we.
Butterfly man - 31-Jul-17 @ 6:44 PM
I usually see the odd hedgehog in my garden and tonight I had to rescue one from my dog. Fortunately only the dog had any injuries and a bit of a dented ego. I brought the hog indoors and waited until it started moving around and I was sure had no injuries before I offered food and water. I took it outside to release back into my garden and there was not one but two more to what I could see wandering around my garden. What a lovely sight.
Kerrie - 26-Jul-17 @ 1:12 AM
I had 3 small hedgehogs visiting my garden 4 a few weeks..they were venturing right up 2 the back door..so i put some food out 4 them..dried chicken based cat biscuits,chopped up hard boiled eggs,mealworms & a bowl of water..they came & ate & drank the water at same time every night & sometimes 2 at once climbing all over the dish of mealworms crunching them up..it was so lovely 2 c them..theyre such cute little creatures!..i bought them some hedgehog food & insects to put out 4 them last wk..but not one of them has turned up or eaten apart from a solitary cat eating the cat biscuits on2 nights not a single little hedgehog has come 2 eat??..does anyone know why they may have stopped coming 2 feed suddenly?as itsJuly so i know they wont be hybernating yet.
hogsrus - 22-Jul-17 @ 7:13 PM
Early Monday morning I noticed mother hedgehog and 2 babies in my garden, and they have returned between 5and 7am each morning. Apart from putting water out I have left them alone and just enjoy watching them wandering around. They can climb up the raised bordersto forage and sleep and I'm a bit concerned if I leave my patio doors open will they venture into my house?
ladyggardener - 12-Jul-17 @ 1:44 PM
Bunny - Your Question:
I have never had hedgehogs in my garden though had a very distressed baby last week, decided to make a house with shavings, grass & leaves of which two hedgehogs have made a home with tonight!I now have 6 hedgehogs one definitely is very young as really in steady on his/her feet.Iam feeding them mincemeat, boiled egg & red nuts with water by the side of which is completely gone in the morning!Should I put 6 trays of food out for each hedgehog as want them to all get enough food?Would this be a family of mum dad & babies do you think?Thanks

Our Response:
They do really need to learn to fend for themselves, so it's best not to put too much food out really. Contact the British Hedgehog society oninfo@britishhedgehogs.org.uk for some individual advice.
WildlifeGardener - 4-Jul-17 @ 10:37 AM
I have never had hedgehogs in my garden though had a very distressed baby last week, decided to make a house with shavings, grass & leaves of which two hedgehogs have made a home with tonight! I now have 6 hedgehogs one definitely is very young as really in steady on his/her feet. Iam feeding them mincemeat, boiled egg & red nuts with water by the side of which is completely gone in the morning! Should I put 6 trays of food out for each hedgehog as want them to all get enough food? Would this be a family of mum dad & babies do you think? Thanks
Bunny - 3-Jul-17 @ 12:38 AM
we have just started getting hedgehogs in the garden and today we saw a baby one what a fantastic day this is i love these little animals
julie - 17-Jun-17 @ 8:22 PM
I have two hedgehog homes and oth are being used. I recently bough a hedgehog feeding station and now a hedgehog has taken up residence in it. The trouble is it is in a fairly sunny spot, so I am worried it will get too hot. Should I buy another hog home and try and move the hedgehog? Or I could try and move the feeding station, but it has no base. Has this happened to anyone else?
Pitstop - 8-Jun-17 @ 8:31 PM
Came home late last week and found literally on the doorstep hedgehog size of a small cat! I am almost convinced that it's a pregnant female because I had few of them in the previous garden. She absolutely loves cat's dry biscuits. I have been advised by the vet few years ago that's? the best food for them. Haven't? tried dog food yet. Loves sleeping in the bush, roaming around the garden and even became friend with my 2 little cats! I am on the mission to try to take the pictures.
choirlady - 9-May-17 @ 11:13 PM
Teasleflower could your visitor be a squirrel?
Bagsy - 26-Apr-17 @ 8:46 PM
Teasleflower - Your Question:
After what seemed many years without visiting hedgehogs to my garden I was delighted to have one or two visiting last year. So I bought them a hedgehog house and created a feeding station. They disappeared over winter and recently came back. Sadly one died last week. I noticed that one of the contributors puts fruit out for their hedgehog, I have been advised by the hedgehog protection society that this is not good for them as it increases the acid in their digestive system.But my question is, does anyone have the experience of a visiting creature that is able to reach into the plastic storage box (feeding station) to the far end and get hold of the ceramic feeding bowl and remove it then carry it up about four steps to the garden lawn? There is no sign of badgers in the garden - but could a fox do this. Also I have made the entry to the feeding station difficult for a larger animal to access it. Suggestions would really be appreciated as I am baffled.

Our Response:
We're not sure that a hedgehog would be able to do this. Perhaps some of our readers can help with suggestions. It might be worth trying the British Hedgehog Preservation Society for some advice too.
WildlifeGardener - 26-Apr-17 @ 10:38 AM
After what seemed many years without visiting hedgehogs to my garden I was delighted to have one or two visiting last year.So I bought them a hedgehog house and created a feeding station.They disappeared over winter and recently came back. Sadly one died last week.I noticed that one of the contributors puts fruit out for their hedgehog, I have been advised by the hedgehog protection society that this is not good for them as it increases the acid in their digestive system. But my question is, does anyone have the experience of a visiting creature that is able to reach into the plastic storage box (feeding station) to the far end and get hold of the ceramic feeding bowl and remove it then carry it up about four steps to the garden lawn?There is no sign of badgers in the garden - but could a fox do this.Also I have made the entry to the feeding station difficult for a larger animal to access it.Suggestions would really be appreciated as I am baffled.
Teasleflower - 26-Apr-17 @ 10:22 AM
We have been lucky over the last few years with hedgehogs in our garden, last year at one point we had seven some of these were hoglets. We also fostered two, had them checked over by a vet, they were 2 females.We have 2 hog houses both occupied and we believe our 2 foster hoglets are bedding down together in the larger house, which is great. We feed our hedgehogs on a mixture of kepplenuts,sunflower hearts & dried meal worms and plenty of fresh water. We monitor them during the night with our infrared cameras and see them squabbling and courting.
CJ - 18-Apr-17 @ 9:23 PM
Bagsy - Your Question:
Hi, since my last update I'm pleased to say the hog houses have now got residents. They love the banana but left the apple, I've now mixed the mealworms in with the adult cat food which they eat, I'll now try mixing them in the kitten cat food and see how that goes. A few questions I have is with the bedding in the houses, I put in fresh straw, do I leave that in for the winter, change it or add to it?

Our Response:
Yes putting bedding down will be good and straw is fine, as our leaves or hay. You don't need to change it - it's a hedgehog's nature to this/replace it, so you can help by leaving piles of "spare" bedding nearby from time to time (especially in winter).
WildlifeGardener - 12-Apr-17 @ 2:22 PM
Hi, since my last update I'm pleased to say the hog houses have now got residents. They love the banana but left the apple, I've now mixed the mealworms in with the adult cat food which they eat, I'll now try mixing them in the kitten cat food and see how that goes. A few questions I have is with the bedding in the houses, I put in fresh straw, do I leave that in for the winter, change it or add to it?
Bagsy - 11-Apr-17 @ 11:35 AM
Hi, since my last update I'm pleased to say both hog houses are now in place and have been viewed by prospective tenants, no one has made an offer ?? hopefully they will be occupied in time. I have a few hedgehogs visiting my feeding station at different times during the night. Very selective with what they eat, don't care for the dried mealworms or the kitten cat food but love the cat biscuits, the adult cat food and lots of fresh water. Going to try them on banana and apple tonight to see how that goes, I don't seem to be able to get specialist hedgehog food locally so will do some searching on line.
Bagsy - 8-Apr-17 @ 12:01 PM
Bagsy - Your Question:
Hi, since I reported my two hedgehogs leaving their hibernation nest I'm pleased to report I've got at least one visiting my feeding station which eats a whole packet of cat food and cat biscuits. I've added some dried mealworms and beetles tonight to give them some variety.I've finished building one hedgehog house and will put it in place over the next few days and then make another one.

Our Response:
How lovely! Thanks for the updates.
WildlifeGardener - 7-Apr-17 @ 1:55 PM
Hi, since I reported my two hedgehogs leaving their hibernation nest I'm pleased to report I've got at least one visiting my feeding station which eats a whole packet of cat food and cat biscuits. I've added some dried mealworms and beetles tonight to give them some variety. I've finished building one hedgehog house and will put it in place over the next few days and then make another one.
Bagsy - 1-Apr-17 @ 9:52 PM
Bagsy - Your Question:
I had two hedgehogs hibernate in my garden under piles of leaves this winter and notice today they've left so I have made a feeding station out of a plastic storage box in the hope they might return.I have nearly built one hog house and intend to build another which I'll place in the garden where the original piles of leaves were.My wife passed away last year and this has given me something new to focus on, in fact it's quite exciting.Will I be successful? Watch this space.

Our Response:
That's very exciting, we're sorry to hear about your wife and hope this helps as a divertion.
WildlifeGardener - 29-Mar-17 @ 12:13 PM
I had two hedgehogs hibernate in my garden under piles of leaves this winter and notice today they've left so I have made a feeding station out of a plastic storage box in the hope they might return. I have nearly built one hog house and intend to build another which I'll place in the garden where the original piles of leaves were. My wife passed away last year and this has given me something new to focus on, in fact it's quite exciting. Will I be successful? Watch this space.
Bagsy - 27-Mar-17 @ 7:12 PM
We found a hedgehog in our garden several weeks ago and took him in weighed at 10ounces been feeding etc now at 14ounces. We are going on holiday next week, will it be safe to put him back in the garden in a hog house, also seen what I can assume is a sibling in the garden or should we catch the other and find a rehoming center?
Bryn - 12-Nov-16 @ 10:22 PM
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