Help hedge­hogs re­cover from a 50 per cent de­cline

World of Animals - - Garden Secrets -

In the ab­sence of their na­tive hedgerows, it’s up to us to pro­vide these strug­gling mam­mals with a new home

It only takes a hedge­hog three months to rid the av­er­age UK gar­den of slugs – all they need is the op­por­tu­nity. Hedgerows once snaked across the UK as nat­u­ral bar­ri­ers for live­stock. How­ever, since the rapid de­cline of the hedge­hog’s name­sake habi­tat, this spiny mam­mal is in des­per­ate need of shel­ter from preda­tors such as hawks.

The good news is that do­ing less gar­den­ing is great for hedge­hogs, as large hedges and bram­ble patches

are per­fect cover. Keep­ing a com­post heap, pil­ing up logs or even splash­ing out on a hedge­hog house are all steps in the right direc­tion. It’s also im­por­tant to clear nets from the ground to pre­vent en­tan­gle­ment and pro­vide es­cape routes from deep wa­ter.

If you want to pro­vide food, meal­worms and ded­i­cated hedge­hog food are per­fect op­tions. Bread and milk cause de­hy­dra­tion, so plain wa­ter is more than enough.

A hedge­hog has around 5,000 spines on its back, with each one

last­ing for around a year

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