Homeschool Garden Club - Hedgehogs
Hedgehogs are on the decline, according to a new report, but there are plenty of things we can do as home schoolers to encourage them into your garden. They are particularly useful animals for the gardener, eating large quantities of slugs and snails. They are usually most active after dark in the hours before midnight. Often they travel approximately around one mile very night looking for food, finding shelter or search for a mate.
How To Encourage Hedgehogs In Your Garden.
To roam freely, Hedgehogs need open gardens. An open garden means there must be a gap in the fence or hedging in which they can come in and out by. You can create a gap, a 15cm hole in the bottom of the fence will do) or you can dig a channel under it. This will help them a great deal.
We understand if you have a dog, you will not want your dog getting out of the garden. So, make this hole at the back of the shed out of reach of the dog and allow a channel for the hedgehog to access the garden but the dog cannot escape.
Food supplies can run low for hedgehogs in cold or very dry weather. Hedgehogs are very fond of meaty dog food (it might be time to encourage your dog to share). The sunflower hearts from our sunflower competition would be great for the hedgehogs, so do put some of these on the ground. Unsalted chopped peanuts, like the ones you feed the bird can also be placed on the ground. You can also buy ready-made hedgehog food. Leave out some water at ground level, but please don't give them milk, bread or a mixture of bread and milk.
Don't be so tidy with the leaves when cleaning up. Leave some autumn leaves untouched in quiet corners of your garden. This will offer excellent shelter and foraging ground for your prickly visitors.
Gardening organically helps too - slug pellets are harmful to hedgehogs. As part of the Homeschool Garden Club we try our best to garden organically, using natural deterrents such as beer traps or broken eggshells, this will help to boost hedgehog survival rates.
Ensure that ponds have a shallow end or place a small ramp into steep sided ponds to facilitate their escape, should a hedgehog fall in, and they do from time to time .
Bonfires, strimmers, garden forks and other tools are all pose a danger for sleepy hedgehogs. Make sure you disturb any areas of long grass, bonfires or mounds of fallen leaves prior to starting work to give Hedgehogs an opportunity to escape beforehand. Get into this habit all year round, and not just in autumn.
Gardening with hedgehogs in mind will help to alleviate many of the dangers that they face and make your garden a much safer place for our shy friends. If you spot an injured or sick hedgehog, contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890801.
If you haven't already made a hedgehog house for Design and Technology, we will be making them this November.