How you can help hedgehogs in Hampshire this autumn
PUBLISHED: 10:34 26 October 2015 | UPDATED: 10:34 26 October 2015
This autumn, spare a thought for our prickly garden visitors says Deborah Griffiths, Education and Engagement Assistant at The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust
Hedgehogs are now disappearing from our countryside as fast as tigers are worldwide – a shocking state of affairs for a species that was once a common sight in UK gardens. It’s not just hedgehogs in decline, many of our common native wildlife such as house sparrows and starlings are all disappearing from our green spaces due to a variety of reasons, including loss of habitat.
While hedgehogs are suffering in rural areas, some are taking sanctuary in many of our suburban neighbourhoods. With some 15 million gardens in the UK, covering an area larger than all the UK’s National Nature Reserves put together, we have a great opportunity right on our doorsteps to help the humble hog.
Wild About Gardens Week is an annual celebration of garden wildlife hosted by The Wildlife Trust. This October we will be teaming up with the Royal Horticultural Society and the Hedgehog Street campaign to raise awareness of the hedgehog’s plight and encourage everyone to look out for them in our gardens.
There are some simple steps you can take to help hedgehogs this autumn:
1 - Create hedgehog highways
Hedgehogs need to be able to roam far and wide in search of food, mates and nesting sites – racking up between 1-2km per night. Get together with your neighbours to cut a 13cm2 (5in2) hole in your fence or dig a channel beneath your garden boundaries to connect your gardens. You can pledge to make a hole in your fence and map it at www.hedgehogstreet.org, joining the online community who are taking action in your neighbourhood.
2 - Avoid the use of pesticides
Ditch the slug pellets and avoid the use of pesticides. Hedgehogs are natural pest controllers and need a plentiful and varied supply of invertebrate prey to stay healthy. The higher the number of hedgehogs in your garden, the lower the number of pests – leading to healthier plants and flowers.
3 - Provide nesting sites
Log and leaf piles, wilderness areas and purpose-built hedgehog homes make great places for hedgehogs to nest and hibernate. Fallen leaves also make the perfect nesting material, so make sure you don’t clear all of these away. If you are cleaning away leaves and garden waste, make sure you check thoroughly to prevent any disturbance to our hibernating hogs. You can even try and make your own hedgehog house with nothing more than a cardboard box, newspapers, grass and a carrier bag. General wildlife-friendly gardening tips, like using mulch and compost, allowing areas to grow wild, and growing bee-friendly flowers also help.
Hedgehogs might be declining, but with some small steps, together we can make sure hedgehogs have a home in our gardens now and for the future. To find out more about hedgehogs and how to make your garden a little wilder, visit www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk.
• Hampshire walk around Longstock and Danebury Hill - Follow Steve Davison as he heads to the Test Valley and the village of Longstock for a wander up Danebury Hill