Hedgehogs are one of Britain’s most loved wild animals. They’re a star visitor in gardens across the country, and they help out by munching on flowerbed guests who are less desirable to gardeners, like slugs and invertebrates.
Make your garden more hedgehog friendly by reading up on these six common mishaps and how to avoid them.
1 – Hogging up the drain
This hedgehog was lucky to be rescued, after being discovered stuck down a pipe in Swansea.
Drains are narrow, steep sided, and often have sudden drops. As you can guess, it’s very easy for small, ground-dwelling animals like hedgehogs to fall down them and get stuck. Help them out by keeping any drain holes properly covered, or by checking your drains daily for fallen animals.
Bonus fact – this hedgehog’s unusual ‘blonde’ spines and pink nose are due to leucism, a genetic condition that results in the partial loss of pigmentation in animals. It’s different from albinism, as this hog still has darker coloured eyes.
2 – Making a spiky splash
Garden ponds are interesting places – they’re natural sources of water and they attract all kinds of creatures that hedgehogs like to eat. Garden ponds are also very difficult to get out of if you’re as small and round as a hedgehog.
We’ve rescued hedgehogs from all kinds of splashy situations, and have even been called out to rescue one unfortunate chap from a slurry pit! Give hedgehogs a way to escape from your garden pond if they take a tumble by ensuring there are gentle slopes around at least one edge, or using stones to build some escape steps.
3 – Being nosey by nature
Hedgehogs are inquisitive, it’s a handy trait that serves them well in the wild. But it can also get them into trouble when they come across objects that aren’t part of their natural environment.
One common hedgehog habit is to stick their noses into things, this is helpful for scooping up tasty treats hidden in hollow logs and holes, but can have serious consequences when there’s litter left lying around. Wild areas in your gardens give curious hogs a space to explore, but it’s important that you keep them litter free.
4 – Scoring an own goal
Getting lost on the ‘net is great for discovering new blogs and funny animal videos. It’s not so great for hedgehogs and other wildlife. We’ve rescued hedgehogs from tangles in all sorts of netting, from sports equipment like football and cricket nets, to garden twine and fruit netting.
The little hedgehog pictured above was found trapped in goal netting. Miraculously, he didn’t suffer any major injuries, but many more hedgehogs aren’t so lucky. Score for hogs and other wildlife by tidying sports netting away when you’ve finished playing, and replacing garden nets with metal grids instead.
5 – Making a not-so-incredible journey
Fencing causes a sticky problem for hedgehogs too. This little hog got caught up whilst wondering around some school grounds in Norfolk. She had no way to escape, and was very lucky to be found by some school children who called us to come release her.
Hedgehogs travel up to one mile every night, searching for food and mates. But with their territories divided by garden borders, they can struggle to get from place to place. Join the hedgehog highway by leaving a passing place for local hogs under your fence, hedge or wall.
6 – Being a less than piggy hog
November to mid-March is hibernation time for hogs, although in mild winters they can still be seen out as late as December or even early January. It can be a prickly period. Weighing less than 500 grams, or not finding an appropriate place to bed down for the season can be fatal.
Leaving out hedgehog-friendly foods like minced meat or chopped boiled eggs can really help (but don’t feed them milk as they’re lactose intolerant, or bread which is like junk food food to them). Having a hog friendly area or hedgehog house in your garden is great too.
Join the hedgehog housing census
If you already have a hedgehog house in your garden – then join in with the first ever national census of hedgehog housing! It’s a survey run by Hedgehog Street in partnership with University of Reading and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. You’ll be providing valuable data for the improvement of hedgehog welfare and housing advice.
Learn more about Britain’s favourite wild animal by visiting our hedgehog advice page, or find out how to make your garden hedgehog friendly by downloading our factsheet on Helping Hedgehogs in the garden (PDF 416KB).
Read about how to look out for young hedgehogs in the autumn who may need your help by downloading our Caring for Autumn Juvenile Hedgehogs (PDF 416KB) factsheet.