Have you seen a hedgehog in the village lately?

hedgehog

Recent surveys show that hedgehog numbers are in decline and it has been noticed that there have been far fewer hedgehogs sited in the village in recent years, so anything you can do to help them will be appreciated. They are particularly vulnerable in the autumn when they are fattening up for hibernation.

Hedgehogs are considered the gardener’s friend as they can help keep some of the garden pests under control. However whilst they can give us the pleasure of seeing them as they wander across our gardens late at night we can cause them a lot of problems with our gardening activities. Here is some advice from the Hedgehog Preservation Society that should help to reduce some of the problems that they might encounter in our gardens.

Fences – Leave a hole in fences or newly constructed walls so the hedgehogs can come and go. Use environmentally safe wood preservatives on sheds, fences etc as hedgehogs often lick new smells or substances – your garden centre should be able to advise.

Feeding – to encourage a hedgehog to stay in or near your garden ensure it has a fresh supply of water available (especially in very hot weather) and leave a dish of dog food in a place where the hedgehog can get it.

Bonfires – move the pile of vegetation to be burnt just before setting fire to it to ensure that no hedgehog has made a home there.

Netting – keep all pea-netting a foot above the ground so the hedgehogs can go under it and will not try to go through it and become stuck.

Ponds – provide escape routes or a gentle slope to at least one of the sides. Keep pots that might fill with water upside down. Provide a shallow dish of water for all visiting wildlife.

Drains – keep drain holes covered: this stops both leaves and hedgehogs blocking the drain.

Wild Patches – STRIMMERS MUTILATE – take care when mowing long grass and tidying wild patches, as they are an ideal place for a hedgehog’s nest. When cutting long overgrown areas cut initially to about a foot long and then check for hedgehogs and other wildlife before cutting any lower. Providing a suitable nesting or hibernating box can help prevent accidental disturbance.

Compost – another ideal place for a hedgehog to make a nest and rear its young. Take care when turning the heap; one thrust of a fork can easily kill more than one baby hedgehog. The safest time to spread the heap is probably Oct/Nov when most babies have left their mum and adults have not yet started to hibernate.

Slug Pellets – try alternatives, REMEMBER METALDEHYDE SLUG PELLETS CAN KILL, if you must use them, use sparingly and pick up the dead slugs and snails as soon as possible.

Sheds – do not suddenly decide to keep doors closed which have previously been left open for some weeks without first checking that there is no nesting hedgehog inside. Keep chemicals, oil etc in both sheds and garages out of the reach of hedgehogs.

Dogs – If you have a dog that you know attacks hedgehogs, try to warn the hedgehog when the dog is being let out eg turn on an outside light a minute or so before letting the dog out. Also for the dogs final patrol of the evening you might consider putting him on his lead or using a muzzle. These precautions should only be necessary at night.

It would be lovely to see hedgehogs visiting the gardens of Inveresk more frequently and maybe with these tips in mind, we might be able to become a ‘hedgehog friendly village’.

Please let us know if you see any hedgehog in the neighbourhood, either using the ‘comments’ box below or by contacting Mrs Burnet directly at Rose Court.

For further information on hedgehogs, please send a s.a.e. to:-

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, Hedgehog House, Dhustone, Ludlow, Shropshire SY8 3PLTel: 01584 890801 E-mail:info@britishhedgehogs.org.uk

– Mrs Burnet

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