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Caring for Hedgehogs in the Garden

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 11 Nov 2018 | 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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I have what looks like a young hedgehog in my garden I leave worter and cat food for it what else can I do
Spike - 11-Nov-18 @ 6:02 PM
When would be the best time to put my hedgehog house out with hay and hedgehog food.
RoseBower - 10-Nov-18 @ 10:26 PM
I have seen a a hedgehog in my garden the last few nights been feeding with kitten food and water. Should I put a hedgehog house there with some straw ready for his hibernation? Would like some advice please. It looks like a young hedgehog. Sheila
Sheila Terry - 8-Nov-18 @ 6:56 AM
There has been a hedgehog coming through my garden now for 8 years. Yes 8 years. I am worried for my dog. Should I be ??
Wee mee - 24-Oct-18 @ 9:29 AM
We saw a hedgehog in the garden about 3 months ago and have been putting out kitten biscuits for it and it now comes every evening for supper. Then about a month ago there were two of them and to our elation last night there were 3. We will continue to put the biscuits out and we think they are possibly living behind the shed. We are surrounded by fields so we are fairly sure they are reasonably safe from the quiet lane. Is there anything else we should be doing to keep them coming and most importantly keep them safe ?
Derrick - 18-Sep-18 @ 10:32 AM
I have 2 adults and a baby ,small garden but quiet ,I have left top part overgrown and log piles .The 2 large ones have been there for 2 yrs and don't venture out of garden All though they can .saw baby with them last night ,I used to have a slug problem so thanks hedgehogs ??.catbuiscuits and fresh water treats tonight ...every night for 2 yrs in fact
Dazza - 29-Aug-18 @ 9:56 AM
I've recently seen a largishHog in my garden// & in the past few days a small one eating left over cat food (for birds !)/ but this morning a small one was behind a basket in my bedroom... my cat is young & naughty... could he possibly carried it in? I don't think the hog cd manage to walk in/only other thing... a naughty young visitor playing tricks !//Also.. how many babies do they have?
PiP - 20-Jul-18 @ 2:58 PM
Saw a hedgehog on our farm today first time for 15 years. Came out from under log pile at 6 am. Pulled at dry grass. Mouth looked full, rather like he/ she had a moustache . Disappeared back under the Woodpile. Would he/ she be making a nest? Fetched my camera , but did not appear again. When would he / she be likely to appear again? How can I help him or her or both to lead a happy life. Surrounded by pasture land, field pond 50 yards from woodpile. Thank you Atta
Atta - 12-Jun-18 @ 7:27 PM
We have been feeding a hedgehog now for two to three weeks and all of a sudden tonight we have two hedgehogs that have turned up to supper of dog food!! So pleased to see them eating and moving about the garden looking well , my question is do hedgehogs mate at anytime of the year or a certain period in the year only? If anyone could help please
Aidey6417 - 8-Jun-18 @ 11:05 PM
My hog not woke up for a few days is that normal
Fishy1 - 26-Feb-18 @ 11:49 PM
So. Should you or shouldn't you feed your hedgehog meal worms because I thought it can be used ad a treat. Can you explain to me if they can or can not. Or if they can only eat dead or alive meal worms ? If they can't eat dead or alive meal worms can they eat dead crickets. Or what will be the best protein for my hedgie. And what is the best food I can provide for it?? Thank you Kind regards Natalica Robertson
Natzie - 19-Feb-18 @ 12:06 PM
I have a polystyrene box would this be ok if lined with leaves and to use for a hedgehog to hibernate in.
Mistletoe - 14-Nov-17 @ 8:29 PM
Tony - Your Question:
Don’t assume that food left out at night is eaten by your hedgehogs! It is more likely to be taken by cats, as my security cameras discovered, or even by foxes. One answer is to get an electronic cat repeller such as the PestBye mark II. Cats turn and run as soon as they get within range of my device.

Our Response:
Just out of interest, are the hedgehogs not affected by the repeller?
WildlifeGardener - 14-Nov-17 @ 12:05 PM
Don’t assume that food left out at night is eaten by your hedgehogs! It is more likely to be taken by cats, as my security cameras discovered, or even by foxes. One answer is to get an electronic cat repeller such as the PestBye mark II. Cats turn and run as soon as they get within range of my device.
Tony - 12-Nov-17 @ 1:32 PM
Please don’t feed bread ,milk or mealworms to hedgehogs . Just meat based cat food . Milk and bread will kill them . Mealworms cause problems with their bones
Lovekatts - 29-Oct-17 @ 11:09 PM
I have read recently that meal worms should not be fed to hedgehogs, because there is not enough goodness in the meal worm. This is causing hedgehog bones to be less strong and some are having trouble walking due to weakened bones..
none - 29-Oct-17 @ 5:19 PM
goingfor holiday during nov. no one to feed hedgie is he going to suffer so near to hibernation?
madhatter - 24-Oct-17 @ 8:13 PM
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
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