Help­ing hedge­hogs hi­ber­nate

Emily Wil­son tells Han­nah Stephen­son the dos and don’ts of giv­ing our prickly friends a help­ing hand

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - GARDENING AND PETS -

Emily Wil­son, hedge­hog of­fi­cer at Hedge­hog Street, a joint cam­paign by the Peo­ple’s Trust for En­dan­gered Species (PTES) and the British Hedge­hog Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety (BHPS) ex­plains: “Hedge­hogs usu­ally hi­ber­nate from Oc­to­ber/ Novem­ber to March/ April, though this year the weather has been par­tic­u­larly un­usual — snow in March and a heat­wave in July — so this may well have an ef­fect on when hedge­hogs go into hi­ber­na­tion.”

DO... 1. Cre­ate a hedge­hog high­way

Put a hole in or un­der your fence and ask your neigh­bours to do the same to cre­ate a hedge­hog high­way. It means the crea­tures will be able to roam fur­ther to for­age for food, wa­ter and shel­ter.

2. Make sure they have plenty of food and wa­ter

Put out sup­ple­men­tary food to help re­cov­er­ing moth­ers and un­der­weight year­lings fat­ten up. You could try us­ing hedge­hog food, or a meaty dog/cat food and a bowl of wa­ter.

3. En­sure they have a nest­ing place

Cre­ate a hedge­hog house or leave part of your gar­den wild as a nest­ing area (with leaf piles, etc.)

DON’T... 1. Start a bon­fire with­out check­ing

Piles of leaves and sticks of­fer a per­fect nest for hedge­hogs, so have a good rummage un­der your de­bris for your prickly friends be­fore light­ing a bon­fire.

2. Use slug pel­lets

Try to use a nat­u­ral al­ter­na­tive in­stead of pes­ti­cides in your gar­den as not only will they re­duce the num­ber of in­sects avail­able for hedge­hogs to eat, they might make hedge­hogs very ill, or even kill them.

3. Tidy up too much

Bram­bles, log piles, and leafs are all per­fect places for hedge­hogs to make cosy a hi­ber­na­tion nest. Avoid us­ing a strim­mer un­less you have to. Check long grass or veg­e­ta­tion be­fore mow­ing or strim­ming.

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