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Seasonal tips for spiny visitors

Autumn is a time when activity in the garden peaks, and with this comes great opportunity.

Here’s 26 ideas on what you can do!

A

…is for Autumn orphans and juveniles. If you see a hedgehog that’s really small, get in touch with BHPS for some advice:  info@britishhedgehogs.org.uk or 01584 890 801.

  A hoglet by Anne Whitehead

B

…is for Bonfires which are popular with hedgehogs as they make an ideal nest site. Make sure you check any bonfires before lighting them or relocate them on the day of burning. Use #rememberhedgehogs around bonfire night (5th Nov.).

C

…is for Hedgehog Champions, spreading the Hedgehog Street message to their neighbours and local communities.

D

…is for Disease and its impact. The Garden Wildlife Health project is looking into whether disease is a factor in the hedgehog decline and working out what a natural level of disease and parasitism may be. To report any dead or ill hedgehogs visit their website.

E

…is for Events. People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) runs events throughout the year where you can get close to British wildlife, including hedgehogs.

F

 …is for supplementary Food. Meat-based cat or dog food, special hedgehog food, along with a few crushed unsalted peanuts, raisins or mealworms are all great for hungry hedgehogs.

Photo by Hedgehog Champion Nigel Tupman

G

 …is for Gardens, a great habitat for hedgehogs. With almost half a million hectares of gardens in Britain they are an important refuge.

H

 …is for Hibernacula, the nests in which hedgehogs will hibernate. These can be in log piles, compost heaps, patches of brush or in a specially built hedgehog nest box.

I

 …is for Insulation. Hedgehogs are quite picky about what they make their hibernation nests from, so try and make sure there are always dead leaves somewhere in the garden.

J

 …is for Joining up gardens. Get your neighbours to put access holes into their wooden fences to allow your local hedgehogs to freely roam your neighbourhood. Register as a Hedgehog Champion and you can download our hole template for free!Alison Butlin's bespoke hedgehog fence

K

 …is for two Kilometres, the average distance that a hedgehog roams in a single night.

L

 …is for Leaf piles which can provide both important hibernation sites for hedgehogs and nesting material for hedgehog boxes. It’s also valuable food for insects.

M

 …is for Mothers. Female hedgehogs have raised their babies and will be trying to regain condition and increase weight. Males often enter hibernation before females as they have had more time in late summer and early autumn to ‘put on the pounds’.

N

 …is for Neighbours. Hedgehogs need more than one garden to forage in so get to know your neighbours and local community and persuade them to make their gardens hedgehog-friendly.

Residents of the St Johns estate, Walton-on-Thames

O

 …is for Old and decaying wood. Creating a wood pile in your garden will not only provide an important habitat for insects, which hedgehogs can then feed on, but also be a safe, secure site for nesting or hibernation.

P

 …is for Ponds and swimming Pools – ensure that the sides of ponds are gently sloping to allow hedgehogs to climb out or use a piece of chicken wire to form a ramp. Similarly, swimming pools need an exit route or should be securely covered.

Q

 …is for a Quiet corner in your garden in which to place your hedgehog home or build a log or leaf pile. Do not disturb hibernating hedgehogs as it may cause them to stir and use up valuable energy reserves. 

Photo by Iain Green: wildwonder.co.uk

 

R

 …is for the fat Reserves that hedgehogs need to build up before they start hibernation. Often around 30% of their body weight is fat when they enter hibernation.

S

 …is for Strimming with care. Hedgehogs are often hiding in long grass or brush and their natural defence mechanism is to curl into a ball which sadly isn’t much protection against machinery. Check all long grass or vegetation carefully before mowing or strimming.

T

 …is for Torpor, the state hedgehogs enter when they hibernate. During hibernation a hedgehog’s body temperature drops to match the surroundings. This allows them to save a lot of energy but slows down all other bodily functions making normal activity impossible.

Torpor is an energy saving strategy, like hibernation

U

 …is for being Untidy. Leave an area of your garden to go wild – brambles, log piles, leaf piles and long grass or scrub are all perfect places for hedgehogs to make a cosy hibernation nest.

V

 …is for Vehicles on roads. Every year thousands of hedgehogs are killed on roads in Britain. Autumn is one of the peak times for road casualties as young hedgehogs disperse, so please drive carefully.

W

 …is for a fresh bowl of Water. Hedgehogs can remain active well into November and December and will often move nesting sites during hibernation. A bowl of fresh water will be greatly appreciated by any ‘hog out and about.

X

 …is for ToXic chemicals. Try not to use slug pellets or pesticides in your garden as not only will they reduce the number of insects available for hedgehogs to eat, they might also make hedgehogs very ill or even kill them.

Y

 …is for YouTube, visit our Hedgehog Street channel where you can watch videos from other Hedgehog Champions…or send us your videos and we will upload the best ones.

Z

 …is for Zzzzzzz…. sleeping hedgehogs will be warm to the touch, whilst hibernating ones will be colder. The spines of a hibernating hedgehog will still prickle if touched but the spines of a dead one will not.

 

 

 

 

Download your autumn A to Z here.

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