Hedgehogs in the garden
Hedgehogs are a gardener's friend, as they eat beetles, caterpillars, worms and other invertebrates.
Make a hedgehog a home
Leave areas of the garden wild, with piles of leaves, logs or compost. These are an attractive nest as well as a home for the invertebrates that hedgehogs like to eat.
Making an artificial home can be as simple as placing a piece of board against a wall. Or you can buy a purpose-built hedgehog house, or even try to build your own!
Create hedgehog highways
Hedgehogs can travel around a mile every night, so they may need help to get into and out of your garden. Try cutting holes in fences, removing bricks from walls, or digging tunnels under the garden boundary. Hedgehogs can travel through gaps as small as 13x13cm, so these gaps don't need to be large. Or, swapping your wall or fencing for native hedgerows provides a route in and out of your garden, as well as shelter for a range of wildlife.
Supplementing a hedgehog's natural diet by leaving out food and fresh water is a great way to encourage local hogs into your garden. Leave out foods like tinned dog or cat food and cat biscuits or crushed dog biscuits. Good quality, meaty specialist hedgehog food can be bought from wildlife food suppliers.
Never feed hedgehogs milk as it can cause diarrhoea; instead provide plain, fresh water in a shallow bowl. Bread should also be avoided as it's low in nutrients.
Remember to check the food and water bowls each day to top them up with fresh water and food, and remove any food that hasn't been eaten. Always clean the dishes outside (not in the kitchen) every day with hot soapy water and rinse well. This will help to reduce the risks of spreading disease between different hedgehogs that might eat from the same dish.
Hedgehog-friendly gardening tips
- Hedgehogs can easily fall into uncovered drains or holes in your garden. Cover holes or check them every day to make sure no hedgehogs have become trapped.
- Place bricks or stones at the side of ponds, or create a sloped edge on part of the pond to give hedgehogs a way to climb out if they fall in. Cover swimming pools overnight and when they're not in use.
- Check for hedgehogs before using strimmers or mowers, particularly under hedges where they might be resting during the day. If you're forking over a compost heap, these should also be checked first for any nesting hogs.
- Always thoroughly disturb bonfires immediately before you light them, as there could be hedgehogs nesting or hiding inside. Moving the whole bonfire by hand immediately before setting it alight is the best way of ensuring that hedgehogs and other wildlife are not sleeping in there.
- Litter is a real hazard to hedgehogs - they can get their heads stuck in tins, plastic bags, binders from drinks cans or discarded yoghurt pots. Make sure you dispose of your rubbish safely and there's no litter in your garden. Don't forget to snip the straps of disposable face masks too!
- If you have any netting or wire in your garden, make sure it's at least a foot above ground level as hedgehogs can easily become tangled up in it. Pack away or roll up fruit nets, tennis and goal nets when they're not in use. We recommend replacing any netting in your garden with solid metal mesh if possible, which is less likely to entangle hedgehogs.
- Don't close your shed doors if you usually keep them open, as there might be hedgehogs nesting there. Make sure any dangerous chemicals or tools are kept well off the ground. If you need to dismantle your shed, check carefully underneath the floor first for nesting or hibernating hedgehogs.
- Slug pellets and pesticides can poison hedgehogs and should only be used as a last resort. Instead, try using one of many natural alternatives, like sprinkling crushed eggshells or coffee grounds around the plants you need to protect. If you have to use pellets, place them under a slate which is inaccessible to hedgehogs. The outdoor use of slug pellets containing metaldehyde will be banned in Great Britain from March 2022.
What to do if you disturb a hedgehog
If the hedgehog is hibernating, gently put the hedgehog back into its nest, re-cover it with the nest material and leave it alone. If this isn't possible, for example because the nesting site has already been destroyed, then place the hedgehog in a part of the garden where the hedgehog will be safe and sheltered, with as much of the original nest as possible. You could use a large box instead if there's not much natural shelter available, but make sure the hedgehog will be able to get out of the box easily when it next wakes up.
If the hedgehog is not hibernating and has young hoglets, re-cover them with the nesting material and leave them alone. If this isn't possible, please call us on 0300 1234 999 for more advice.
Did you know?
As many as 10 different hedgehogs may visit a garden over several nights, which could mean 'your hedgehog' is a number of different individuals visiting at different times.
Before you go...
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