Here is why we should attract hedgehogs to our gardens, according to Squire’s Garden Centres.
“Hedgehogs aren’t just cute, they’re also valuable pest controllers with their diet of slugs and grubs,” said Sarah Squire, chairman of Squire’s Garden Centres.
Known as the gardener’s friend, hedgehog numbers have declined dramatically in recent years, Sarah said.
Estimates put the population in England, Wales and Scotland at about one million, compared with 30 million in the 1950’s.
“Research by the People’s Trust For Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) suggests that their decline in numbers is partly due to the loss of hedgerows and field margins to intensive farming,” added Sarah.
“They can also be hit on roads, so to help the hedgehog population a new sign was introduced this year featuring a picture of a hedgehog to warn motorists to look out for them.”
Here are some top tips from Squire’s Garden Centres.
1. Make sure hedgehogs can get in – Hedges allow easy access for our spiny friends. Good hedging plants include birch, beech, dogwood and hawthorn. If you have a fence try to leave a 12cm opening to allow hedgehogs to pass through.
2. Provide shelter – Piles of logs, twigs, compost heaps and special hedgehog nesting houses all provide a good home.
3. Give them a drink – Don’t give them milk as it’s not good for them, but they’d love a bowl of water.
4. Attract them with their favourite food – Leave out hedgehog food such as Hedgehog Bites (£7.99 at Squire’s) that are packed with vitamins and minerals. You could also provide a bug hotel so that they can munch on centipedes, woodlice and earwigs. Mulch beds with compost, or leave a patch of grass to grow or piles of leaves, which will attract earthworms, beetles, and woodlice.
Did You Know?
– Newborn hoglets can weigh as little as 10g, which is less than a £2 coin!
– A hedgehog’s spines are made from keratin, the same protein that makes up our hair.
– An adult hedgehog has up to 7,000 spines.
– Hedgehogs have poor eyesight, but excellent senses of smell and hearing.
– Hedgehogs can travel surprisingly far – males can cover more than 3km per night when looking for a female!
– On average hedgehogs live for 2-5 years in the wild, but some have lived up to 10 years!