Helping hedgehogs survive the winter – how you can play your part

Sussex Wildlife Trusts’s WildCall Officer Charlotte Owen has been writing this week about the top five ways to help hedgehogs at this time of year. Here’s what she has to say.

With the nights beginning to draw in hedgehogs are now preparing for hibernation. This means they’ll be busy ensuring they have enough fuel to survive through to the spring.

Here are five ways you can help your local hedgehogs this autumn:

  • Ensure there are holes in fences
  • Hedgehogs can travel up to two kilometres a night foraging for food. Being able to pass easily through gardens will help keep them safe from busy roads and provide access to a wider variety of food sources so they can fatten up ready for the winter months.
  • Avoid using slug pellets
  • Slugs are one of the main food sources for hedgehogs, so if you kill them off hedgehogs will struggle to survive. If you encourage hedgehogs into your garden they’ll do the hard work for you!
  • Check your bonfires
  • Bonfire piles are very attractive to nesting hedgehogs, so it’s best to build and burn bonfires on the same day to avoid tragedy. If this isn’t possible gently search though the bonfire with a rake or spade before burning to make sure any wildlife can escape, or move the pile before you set it alight.
  • Be aware of common hazards
  • Garden ponds can be death traps for hedgehogs, so ensure they have gently sloping sides, or a plank of wood leading out of the pond, as a means of escape. Any netting, wiring or string should be kept above ground so hedgehogs can go underneath rather than becoming entangled.
  • Supplementary feeding
  • Hedgehogs need to fatten up ready to hibernate through the winter and will appreciate a bowl of meaty cat or dog food, either wet or dry, and a drink of fresh water to wash it down. You can create a feeding station by cutting a small hole in a plastic storage box and weighing the lid down with a brick, to stop cats and foxes taking it. Never feed bread or milk as these cause an upset stomach.

For lots of other useful information from Sussex Wildlife Trust follow this link to the website… https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/

Main photo by Hugh Clark FRPS

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