Our beloved mammal needs our assistance!
Hedgehog numbers have halved since the millennium with rural areas being the worst affected. The spiny mammals are identified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List – which is the international list of all the species at risk of extinction. Luckily, hedgehogs have seen less of a decline in our towns and villages. Cumbernauld is a great location for our spikey friends, and with our help they can thrive!
Spring is the best time to give them a helping hand as they emerge from hibernation. We can do loads for these prickly creatures within our gardens: creating log piles will attract hedgehogs as they will have somewhere to feast and rest. The best part is you do not need an immaculate garden. They enjoy overgrown areas and compost heaps for daytime rest. Avoid pesticides or try using natural pest management practices as hedgehogs eat beetles, earwigs, caterpillars, earthworms, millipedes and fly larvae. Furthermore, these critters will help manage pests in your garden.
Hedgehogs can roam over a mile each night, so it is crucial to provide a 13 x 13cm gap in your fence to allow them to wander. If you have a brick wall surrounding your garden, you can remove a brick from the base. These small openings create a network that is vital for them to seek food, rest, and mates.
Once you have set up a highway you can then build a hedgehog café in your garden. Before construction find a sheltered, shaded area for your café. You can repurpose an old plastic storage box for your café by cutting a 13cm square hole for an entrance. If the edges are jagged, you can duct tape around them to prevent the hedgehogs hurting themselves. Drill holes in the box for ventilation.
Before dusk place small amounts of food in the box to help supplement their diet – wet cat food is good. A bowl of water will ensure the mammal is hydrated. Put the lid on the box and a brick/terracotta pot on top so foxes or cats cannot drag it away or tip it over. If the food has been eaten clean the bowls and refill them then place in the box at sunset. These minor adjustments within your garden will improve hedgehog populations, and give you the pleasure of seeing these lovely little animals close up.