The UK hedgehog population is declining. Since the millennium, we have lost a third of urban hedgehogs, so it goes without saying that the remaining survivors need our support more than ever. To help get you started, we've put together some top tips for a hedgehog-friendly garden, plus fun facts about our little hog friends you can learn along the way!
When do hedgehogs come out of hibernation?
The beginning of Spring marks an important time for hedgehogs as their internal alarm clock rings, and it's time to come out of hibernation. The UK's hedgehogs are usually expected to make an appearance from the end of March/April, but this can vary due to the climate's temperature, daylight hours, or food availability.
What happens to hedgehogs during hibernation?
The hedgehog's body experiences extraordinary changes during hibernation, such as:
- heart rate slows to less than 10 beats per minute.
- body temperature falls from 35°C degrees centigrade to less than 10.
- breathing slows to only taking a few breaths once an hour.
- brain activity shuts down, apart from the tiny hypothalamus area, which stays vigilant to monitor potential threats.
UK hedgehogs will lose around 25% of their body weight during hibernation. So It's no surprise that hedgehogs experience dizziness and confusion when awakening from their slumber. They're even more likely to stumble into trouble during this time.
Are hedgehogs endangered?
Hedgehogs are now listed as "vulnerable" on Britain's red list of mammals and a species of principal importance to protect. The leading causes for this are the lack of food and loss of habitat.
Did you know?
Hedgehogs have tails! Measuring up to 2cm long, their short tails are usually hidden underneath their spines.
Give hedgehogs a helping hand!
For all you budding hedgehog enthusiasts out there, we have compiled a list of effortless ways in which you can give your neighbourhood hedgehog a helping hand.
What to feed hedgehogs
After losing 25% of their body weight in hibernation, the first thing that will be on a hedgehog's mind when they emerge is food. We have a range of hedgehog food that will provide the proper nutrients, vitamins and minerals to give hedgehogs a well-balanced diet. We even have a selection to improve their dental health!
What do hedgehogs drink?
Water! The second thing that will be on a hedgehog's mind once they emerge from hibernation is water. Be sure to put out a regular supply of freshwater, especially when feeding them dry food and during the warmer seasons. Our 'I Love Hedgehogs™ Dish' will be perfect to use when providing water. You can even use it to distribute your hedgehog food too!
One of the leading causes behind the decline of hedgehogs is reducing habitats. By placing a hedgehog home in your garden, you will be providing them with a safe space during summer and winter.
Not only will it make an attractive feature in your garden, but it will draw admiring glances from fellow wildlife gardeners. We recommend that hedgehog houses should only be checked and maintained annually around early summer.
Join the hedgehog highway
Yes, there is such a thing! When you have been around for 15 million years, sudden obstacles such as fences can be an inconvenience. Why not cut a small hole in the bottom of the fences around your garden. You will be helping keep hedgehogs on the move in the night and encourage them into your garden too.
Hedgehogs LOVE a heap, albeit a compost heap and log pile, overgrown corner or even a large pile of leaves. They simply need to find somewhere to hunker down and feel safe. You will also attract hedgehogs if you have a pond; after all, they get thirsty. Be sure to instal a ramp for Hedgehogs to enter and leave the pond safely and avoid the risk of drowning.
Predators and danger!
The biggest predators of hedgehogs are badgers and foxes. Of course, nature will take its course, but the more you can protect hedgehogs with the safe areas listed above, the better. Many gardeners also avoid using slug pellets. No one wants to eat food that has been poisoned.