Wild about hedgehogs

© Darin Smith

Hedgehogs are disappearing from our countryside as fast as tigers are worldwide – a shocking situation for a species that was once common. However, with around fifteen million gardens in the UK, covering an area larger than all the UK’s National Nature Reserves put together, we have a great opportunity right on our doorsteps to help the humble hog.

There are some simple steps you can take to help hedgehogs:

Create hedgehog highways

Hedgehogs need to be able to roam far and wide in search of food, mates and nesting sites, racking up between 1 and 2km per night. Put a 13cm hole in your fence or dig a channel beneath garden boundaries to connect your gardens.

Avoid the use of pesticides

Ditch the slug pellets and avoid the use of pesticides. Hedgehogs are natural pest controllers and need a plentiful and varied supply of invertebrate prey to stay healthy.

Provide nesting sites

Log and leaf piles, wilderness areas and purpose-built hedgehog homes make great places for hedgehogs to nest and hibernate. Fallen leaves also make a perfect nesting material, so make sure you do not clear all of these away.

Help our Hedgehogs talk, South Downs Group

Hedgehogs might be declining, but with some small steps, in even the smallest of urban green spaces, together we can make sure hedgehogs have a home in our gardens.

10 things you did not know about hedgehogs

  1. An adult hedgehog has up to 7,000 spines, and a small hidden tail.
  2. On average, hedgehogs live for 2-5 years in the wild, but some have lived up to 10.
  3. Baby hedgehogs are known as hoglets.
  4. Adults have a big appetite and can get through get through 100 or more invertebrates a night.
  5. They can travel up to two miles per night in search of food.
  6. A group of hedgehogs is called an array, but the word isn’t used much, since hedgehogs are solitary creatures who usually only come together to mate.
  7. Hedgehogs have a long snout to help them hunt and forage for their staple diet of insects, worms, caterpillars and berries.
  8. They are called hedgehogs for a reason; the ‘hedge’ part of their name comes from where they build their nests - hedges, bushes and shrubs. The ‘hog’ part comes from the small grunting sound they make which sounds like a pig.
  9. There are estimated to be fewer than one million hedgehogs left in the UK.
  10. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, so milk should never be left out for them. Water is perfectly fine.

Nature at home  - How to provide water for wildlife

All animals need water to survive, by providing a water source outside you can invite a whole menagerie into your garden!

During hot weather, it’s important to have plenty of water for animals and birds to drink, but water is not just for drinking. Amphibians like newts, frogs and toads use water as shelter and breeding grounds. Butterflies get valuable minerals and salts from slightly muddy water, and birds use water to bathe and remove parasites.

Any source of water, from a tiny puddle, to a bowl or a pond can be used. To make it as practical as possible, ensure the water source is shallow with gradual and rough-textured edges, so that anything that climbs in can get out again.

Why not put the water where you can watch the activity as you’re not going to want to miss anything!

Duke of Burgundy

Duke of Burgundy © G Hoggarth

Nature Notes - Great News for local butterflies

HIWWT are delighted to announce the purchase of Deacon Hill near Winchester following a successful fundraising appeal. Bought using a kind gift in the Wills of two local residents as well as more than 1,500 individual donations this site will now be managed for the benefit of local wildlife, and in particular for Duke of Burgundy butterfly.

This fabulous site is Winchester’s only remaining stronghold for the Duke of Burgundy butterfly and supports a range of breeding farmland birds including whitethroat, yellowhammer, linnet and blackcap; as well as many other wildlife species, like the harvest mouse and glow worm.

Deacon Hill will become another piece of land in a whole network of sites around Winchester that are managed with wildlife in mind.

Visit https://www.hiwwt.org.uk/deaconhill to find out more