Habitats for Hedgehogs
Create a home away from home in your garden for the endangered hedgehog. These native creatures are sadly on the decline in Ireland. It is thought that their numbers could decline by up to 25% in the next 10 years. The reasons and cause of the decline are numerous and include the loss of habitat in the wild as well as the increase in use of pesticides both in farms & gardens.
If we can do a little to help reduce the loss of hedgehogs in Ireland we can save other crucial parts of our wildlife. If you want to create a habitat in the garden there are a number of different suggestions and ideas to make the place a bit more hedgehog friendly.
The first problem that face hedgehogs are ponds and these are a cause of drowning if the ponds have steep sides. Hedgehogs are nocturnal and so may accidentally tumble into ponds when passing through your garden. Ideally your ponds should have a gradual slope in, allowing hedgehogs to safely access the water and easily exit if they do fall in.
Other hazards in gardens include slug pellets – these should be avoided to keep hedgehogs safe. Also, take care while using strimmers in long grass as this is another common cause of death for our prickly friends.
To attract hedgehogs into the garden you can leave out small amounts of cat or dog food as these would meet their dietary requirements. In smaller, town gardens make sure to leave small holes at the base of fences & gaps in hedging to allow hedgehogs to travel in and out of the garden as the travel and forage for food. The hole in your boundary should be about the same size as a CD. Coming up to hibernation time, which is October to March, the hedgehog needs to fatten up as much as possible to ensure they can make it through the Winter months.
Hedgehogs are entrepot explorers and will travel up to 15km in one night in search of food. So if you can lay on a meal for them, they may very well visit & even frequent your garden.
You can build and position a hedgehog house in your garden. The house would need to be about 50cm long, 30cm wide and 30cm in height. The house can be built out of wood or cardboard. Ideally you should stuff the inside of the house with straw and moss to create a nesting place where hedgehogs can hibernate.
Elsewhere in the garden, try to encourage wild areas. Areas with long grass, old tree stumps & logs, wildflowers and native plants will help encourage hedgehogs, offering them safe heaven and places to forage for food.