How to attract hedgehogs to your garden

Make your garden hedgehog friendly

As spring approaches, it will soon be time for hedgehogs to emerge from hibernation. The UK hedgehog population has fallen by 50% since the turn of the century, but efforts to make gardens more wildlife friendly are helping the number of hedgehogs in towns and cities to finally stabilise. Numbers are still falling in the countryside, but you can help their survival if you make your garden hedgehog friendly. Here’s how to attract hedgehogs to your garden

Make a hedgehog hole in your fence

Hedgehogs can wander between one and two kilometres every night, so it’s important to help them to move between gardens easily. Make a 13cm hole in the bottom of your fence and it will be big enough to attract hedgehogs into your garden without letting larger pets through. If you make a hedgehog fence hole, log it at Hedgehog Street so they can put it on their map. Alternatively, choose deciduous hedges such as hawthorn, elder, blackthorn and beech instead of fences because hedgehogs can easily pass under them.

Don’t be too tidy in the garden

Hedgehogs love hiding and feeding in leaves and wood. Leave log piles and mountains of leaves in corners of the garden to offer them somewhere to shelter. These areas should attract insects and slugs, which will encourage the hedgehog to search for food there. If you plant the deciduous hedges mentioned above, their leaf litter is perfect for hedgehog nests and will also attract the insects they like to eat. Hedgehogs love compost heaps too but always make sure there aren’t any resting there before you turn it.

Have a wild corner of the garden

Manicured lawns and borders may look neat, but areas of wildflowers and long grass are much better for all kinds of wildlife, including hedgehogs. If you allow hedges and bushes to grow wild and overgrown, this will encourage insects and provide food and shelter for the hedgehogs. Wild flowers are also good for attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Look for wildflower seed packs that include flowers like bluebell, broom, bird’s foot trefoil, hawkweed, wild cornflower and wild marjoram

Leave hedgehog food out

Hedgehogs obviously love hedgehog food, but they can also eat cat and dog food and broken cat biscuits. They like water too, but never leave milk or bread out for hedgehogs! They can’t digest them and it will make them sick. When offering meaty hedgehog food or pet food, make sure meat is the prime ingredient – especially in autumn when they need to build up their fat reserves before hibernating.

Build a hedgehog house

Just like us, hedgehogs need a home. You can build your own or buy one from a gardening store or the RSPB. Once you have your hedgehog box, place it away from direct sunlight and under cover such as beneath a shed or vegetation. Make sure the entrance isn’t facing prevailing winds and surround it with leaves to make it more attractive to hedgehogs. Don’t keep taking the lid off to see if it’s being used because you might disturb the residents. Be patient, it can take a year or more for a hedgehog to move in.

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