Just a quick update on my baby hedgehogs. I wrote about them last week Here. I can report back that the Hogilo hedgehog house is a huge success. Three of the babies are in there this evening, and the roof is keeping them nice and dry.
I got in touch with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society to find out more about them. My babies need to weigh 600 grams before they can successfully hibernate. I will be weighing them tomorrow. Meanwhile I am feeding them up. Here’s a list of what we can give them.
Meat-based dog or cat food
Dried mealworms- not too many
Unsalted chopped or crushed peanuts
Specially made hedgehog dried food- bought from pet shops and supermarkets.
Most importantly- they need a dish of fresh water. Not milk, which gives them stomach problems.
In the wild, my hedgehogs are eating the following:
Worms, beetles, earwigs, caterpillars, leatherjackets, millipedes, frogs, slugs, and fallen fruit. I know for a fact, they absolutely love windfall apples and plums.
Here are two of them with their dinner. They soon tucked in when I retreated to the house.
I was shocked to learn we have lost one third of our hedgehog population since the Millennium. The severe decline has been caused by the following:
Use of pesticides, reducing the number of invertebrates that make up the hedgehogs’ diet
Larger field sizes, making it difficult for them to move about
Mechanical hedge trimming which leaves gappy hedge bottoms and leads to poor nesting opportunities
Permanent pasture being lost to crops
Impenetrable fencing, limiting the area of connected land available for foraging
Gardens being lost to car parking, decking, etc, reducing the land available for foraging
Over managed / tidied gardens reducing hibernation opportunities
Pesticide and slug pellet use, poisons invertebrates
Ponds. Hedgehogs are excellent swimmers, but they can’t get out of straight-sided ponds.
What we can do to help:
Leave untidy corners in our gardens with piles of logs and twigs.
Leave some fallen leaves, dry fern foliage, straw which can be used as nesting material.
Make or buy hedgehog shelters. Old wine crates can be converted, with the addition of a 30cm long tunnel entrance, to keep out predators, and a waterproof roof. Put the nesting material alongside as hedgehogs will carry it in themselves.
Create a safe, dry feeding area out of a clear plastic storage box with 13cm entrance hole.
Cut holes in fences so that hedgehogs can forage over a large area. The hole needs to be 13cm wide and 13cm high.
Use organic methods to protect plants. The Slug Gone wool pellets are really effective deterrents.
Make sure all ponds have a shallow beach made of stones at one end, or a plank wrapped in chicken wire, so that hedgehogs can escape.
I hope you’ve found this quick mini-guide useful. Certainly our hedgehogs need all the help they can get. It’s a sad fact that some children have never even seen a hedgehog- they were a very common sight when we were growing up.
I love this photo of a ceramic hedgehog 3,800 years old, found in an Egyptian tomb. It would be sad if they became extinct on our watch.
Photo credit : Brooklyn Museum and Big Hedgehog Map project where you can log sightings of hedgehogs in your area and find out more about them.