Home > Garden Mammals > Caring for Hedgehogs in the Garden

Caring for Hedgehogs in the Garden

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 26 Apr 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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[Add a Comment]
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
I have lots of hedgehogs visit my garden every night, there was tiny baby ones in July ams I feed them all every night by scattering lots of cat and dog biscuits andpouches of cat food all around the garden.I also have several little bowls of water dotted about which I refill each night with fresh water.But the last couple of weeks or so I have seen several little babies again.I think a few of the females had late babies with all the nice weather we have been having.It is almost the end of October ams I'm scared that they are not going to be big /fat enough to last through hibernation.Has anyone got any suggestions please.I'd hate to think they go into hibernation and they won't make it through the winter.It's really cold tonight and it's only going to get colder.
Angelangi03 - 21-Oct-16 @ 3:45 AM
I have up to 4 hogs come in my garden some nights and I have become a mother to them all. My husband has made 2 hog houses and I made a food station from a plastic storage box and every night I put food out and check them and both houses have hogs in. I feel very lucky to have themas I know they are becoming a smaller population. My weekly shop now concist of chicken cat food meal worms ?? My husband makes fun but I know he loves having them around too ??
Sam-do little - 8-Oct-16 @ 11:03 PM
We have had a tortoisefor 45 years.A few weeks ago we noticed he was having a problemgettingintohis house. We noticed as he was pushing in, a head of a hedgehog came out and tried to stop him. For a coupleof nights the tortoise had to sleep half way out acrossthe door way. After a few nights the tortoisepushed by, and they now share the house. I now put special food and waterout every night for the hedgehog,which he scoffs down. I would like to know if it safe for a tortoise and hedgehog to keep on sharing a home. The tortoise is due to hibernate in the nest 2/3 weeks
corsalady2 - 2-Oct-16 @ 9:09 PM
We started off with, we think, with one Hedgehog who stayed in the Hedgehog house last winter, happily it grew to six over the summer,but we want to clean the house ready for the winter or is it best to leave it ? BB.
Bilbo Baggins - 25-Sep-16 @ 8:05 PM
My dog ?? was in the garden a few weeks ago Barking I went out and saw the biggest hedgehog I think he is living under a old door roof so I have just bought him a hedgehog house hedgehog food bedding and give him boiled egg as a treat he is. Family pet now don't think he will be leaving soon
Britgirl - 18-Sep-16 @ 8:36 PM
Gingerrolo - Your Question:
Yesterday we had a hedgehog wandering round in the afternoon on our patio,,,it was red hot,,so I know a lady who cares for hedgehogs ,I gave her a ring for advice,,,her reply was that if they show in the daytime they could be hungry,, thirsty,,or injured as hot dry weather is not so good for hedgehogs as they can't dig for worms as soil is hard,,and dry weather brings up few slugs only usually early morning,,,so to put cat or dog food down not tuna,,,why I don't know also fresh cold water,,,early evening when it gets dusk.So I did this and put the hedgehog back under a thick bush with food and water,,and after about 15 mins I heard him eating and he hasn't appeared since.I knew we had hedgehogs under the bush as we have seen them come from there in the evening.So today I visit the pet shop to buy the hedgehogs there own dishes,,instead of using the cats,,also special hedgehog food.Hope other people care for them this hot weather.

Our Response:
Well done, we hope your hedgehog family thrives.
WildlifeGardener - 15-Sep-16 @ 2:36 PM
Yesterday we had a hedgehog wandering round in the afternoon on our patio,,,it was red hot,,so I know a lady who cares for hedgehogs ,I gave her a ring for advice,,,her reply was that if they show in the daytime they could be hungry,, thirsty,,or injured as hot dry weather is not so good for hedgehogs as they can't dig for worms as soil is hard,,and dry weather brings up few slugs only usually early morning,,,so to put cat or dog food down not tuna,,,why I don't know also fresh cold water,,,early evening when it gets dusk.So I did this and put the hedgehog back under a thick bush with food and water,,and after about 15 mins I heard him eating and he hasn't appeared since.I knew we had hedgehogs under the bush as we have seen them come from there in the evening.So today I visit the pet shop to buy the hedgehogs there own dishes,,instead of using the cats,,also special hedgehog food.Hope other people care for them this hot weather.
Gingerrolo - 14-Sep-16 @ 6:48 PM
I just let my two dogs outside & they jumping & barking playfully and wouldn't come in but when I went to get them I seen their was a hedgehog he's out in the open he's breathing as you can see !! What do I do ?? X
Lola123 - 6-Sep-16 @ 11:49 PM
I spotted a small hedgehog in my garden four years ago ,and started feeding it dog food I now have three living in the garden ,I can set my clock by them. Every night they come out at ten pm even the dogs watch for them now ,my dogs don't bother them as they are used to seeing them in the. Garden,and likewise the hedgehogsdon't seem to be bothered either is there anything else that I could do to make things more comfortable For them for the winter .?PUT
mags - 15-Aug-16 @ 1:42 AM
AJ - Your Question:
We were tidying up our garden when we found a hedgehog under lots of wood that we have. When we realised he was there we put the wood straight back, but now I'm worried that we've disturbed him. Could this mean that he might move now or are hedgehogs fairly tolerant if not disturbed too often? Now I know he's there I will leave water and dog food out for him over night :)

Our Response:
He should be OK if you haven't disturbed his habitat too much.
WildlifeGardener - 1-Aug-16 @ 11:10 AM
We were tidying up our garden when we found a hedgehog under lots of wood that we have. When we realised he was there we put the wood straight back, but now I'm worried that we've disturbed him. Could this mean that he might move now or are hedgehogs fairly tolerant if not disturbed too often? Now I know he's there I will leave water and dog food out for him over night :)
AJ - 31-Jul-16 @ 1:56 PM
Female hedgehogs may be feeding young and will only come out briefly to eat and may even be seen in daylight. This can account for not seeing them when you expect. They may reappear with young soon.
Helsbells - 27-Jul-16 @ 10:46 PM
We have had a pair of hedgehogs visit regularly for the past 5 years. We have given them hedgehog food and fresh water which they seem to enjoy. Thet haven't visited for the past 3 weeks ???
lilly - 23-Jul-16 @ 4:57 PM
For the past 5 years we have had 2 hedgehogs visiting our garden. I purchased hedgehog food and left out with plenty of water. they usually come as dusk falls but for the past few weeks they haven't appeared. please could you explain ?
lilly - 23-Jul-16 @ 4:54 PM
I have just found 2 hedgehogs in my back garden.I have given them cat food and water but I am concerned as my garden is enclosed by brick walls...I presume there must be a hole somewhere for them to get in!? There are a lot of cats in the area, would cats attack them and I am unsure of how they will get out again. What would be the best thing to do...just leave them?
Hol134 - 17-Jul-16 @ 1:12 AM
Spike and peanut my regular visitors haven't been for about 5 nights. Cat food, sunflower seeds and peanuts all still there in the morning. I'm quite worried about them both, does anyone have any ideas?
Jacwar - 16-Jun-16 @ 8:36 PM
I had one hedgehog in my garden whole of last year, this year I have noticed a family of 4, love seeing them same time every night
pdsawomen - 18-May-16 @ 10:08 AM
I moved to a new house last October and a few weeks after moving we found a hedgehog in our garden. So started feeding her. She put on quite a bit weight before going into hibernation. In March this year she came back which was brilliant, but then 3 weeks later another one arrived and now we have 4 or 5. I feed the hedgehog biscuits, mealworms and some water. Every night about 9.30pm they come into our garden and costing us a fortune but wouldn't have it any other way. Love you them and feel privileged to have them.
Rustyboots - 7-May-16 @ 10:34 PM
We built a home for a visiting hedgehog (Bilbo Baggins) last autumn and happily it stayed overwinter. Since the end of hibernation (5-6weeks) and has happily consumed a tray of catfood + mealworms each evening up until last Sunday when it suddenly disappeared: Q 1. Is this normal? We are quite concerned for BBs safety as our neighbour has put poison in what he thinks is a Vole hole!! We were very pleased to care for a hedgehog and the grandchildren miss watching BB eating on the floodlit patio. Q
Bilbo Baggins - 22-Apr-16 @ 10:36 PM
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