How to Tell if You Have a Hedgehog in Your Garden
Hedgehogs are elusive creatures. Because they are nocturnal, you might not always know a hedgehog has taken up residence in your garden. If you suspect that a hedgehog might be wandering around your garden at night, look out for these tracks and signs:
Hedgehogs weigh around 1kg but they don’t leave footprints unless the ground is very soft. You could check muddy patches of the lawn and flowerbeds. Alternatively, set up your own footprint trap.
Prints are usually around 2.5cm long and 2.8cm wide. Both front and back feet have five toes but only four show up in tracks. Front footprints look like little handprints. Back footprints are longer and slimmer.
Hedgehog droppings are a sure fire sign you have hedgehogs in your garden. Their poo is usually quite dark in colour, due to their diet of beetles. And you may even be able to spot the exoskeletons of invertebrates packed within them. Droppings are usually found on their own and range in length from 15mm to 50mm.
Hedgehogs leave a trail as they move around. Look for areas of your garden where small tunnels have been forged through the undergrowth. If you suspect a hedgehog has set up home in your garden log pile or compost heap, you could place a few large leaves over the entrance in the evening and check to see if they’re still in place the following morning.
Hedgehogs make more noise than you might think. If you go outside at night time and listen carefully, you may be able to hear snuffling and shuffling in the undergrowth. Spring is an especially good time to hear hedgehogs in your garden. During this season males can get quite loud as they fight over females.
Install a Camera
These days, it’s possible to buy a wildlife camera that will help you to spot nocturnal garden visitors from the comfort and warmth of your own home. Night vision and motion activated cameras help you to easily see which animals are roaming your garden at night.
If you’d like to welcome hedgehogs into your garden, provide the best hedgehog food. Try to avoid these garden hedgehog hazards and provide a hedgehog thoroughfare, allowing hedgehogs to enter your garden from neighbouring properties. Then keep an eye and an ear out at night and early each morning to discover signs that hedgehogs are on the move.
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Seven Amazing Facts about Hedgehogs
Hedgehogs are a relatively common sight in UK gardens. These nocturnal creatures are most often seen during summer months before hibernating in the autumn to escape the cold British winter. Boxwild sells a Hedgehog Gift Box which is ideal for those who love our treasured garden friends!
Whilst almost all of us have seen a hedgehog at some point or other, there are a few things we may not know about our spiky friends. Take a look at our seven amazing hedgehog facts to find out more:
- Hedgehogs have between 5000 and 7000 spines. Their spines are known as quills. Quills are mostly hollow and contain a complex network of air chambers, making them light and strong. Hedgehogs lose and regrow quills throughout their lifetime.
- Baby hedgehogs are called hoglets. They’re usually born in June and July in a litter of four to five. On average just two to three make it past the weaning stage. This can be even less if a hedgehog nest is disturbed soon after birth – in these situations a mother hedgehog may abandon the hoglets or even eat them.
- Hedgehogs are omnivores. They can eat a wide variety of foods but the majority of their diet is made up of insects. Slugs, beetles and caterpillars are all firm hedgehog favourites, earning them a reputation as a dedicated gardener’s friend.
- Milk is bad for hedgehogs. It’s a common misconception that milk provides a tasty treat for hedgehogs. It can actually give them diarrhoea. Plain, fresh water in a shallow bowl is best.
Some hedgehogs have fleas but they can’t be transferred to humans. These fleas are actually known as hedgehog fleas and won’t survive on people or other animals.
- It’s estimated that 30% of the hedgehog population has been lost since 2002. Poor habitats, in both rural and urban areas, as well as difficult weather conditions are to blame. Creating a garden habitat and leaving food out for hedgehogs, particularly over the summer, can be a great help. You’ll be providing them with the nutrients and fat stores they need to survive hibernation come the autumn.
- Cutting a hole in your garden fence could help a hedgehog. If everyone on your street does the same, you’ll create a “wildlife corridor” through which hedgehogs can search for food and water without venturing into more dangerous territory.
Hedgehogs are incredible animals but they do need a helping hand from time to time. If you can offer shelter, food, water and an easy through road in your garden, you’ll be providing a much needed lifeline to your local hedgehog population.
Read more about our prickly friends in our post on five garden hazards for hedgehogs
5 Garden Hazards that Spell Danger for Hedgehogs
Around this time of year, hedgehogs are looking for a place to hibernate in time for winter. This means they’re a much more common sight in gardens across the country. If you want to make your garden a safe haven for hedgehogs, take care to avoid these five garden hazards:
Like all garden visitors, hedgehogs like to take a drink from any water sources you provide. A pond is the perfect place to quench their thirst but, whilst hedgehogs are good swimmers, they need an easy way to get out of the pond in case they fall in. A sloping side or some chicken wire provide a route in and out of the pond for any visiting hedgehogs.
Whenever you’re looking after your garden maintenance, spare a thought for hedgehogs. As their name would suggest, hedgehogs love to spend time in garden hedgerows. Be careful when mowing or using a strimmer close to hedges at the edge of your garden. Also take care when raking leaves or forking over the compost heap. These are all places where hedgehogs can be found.
Hedgehogs love to hide in piles of wood or garden refuse. It’s a dry and cosy place to nest or hibernate. If you’re getting rid of summer garden offcuts or preparing a bonfire for Guy Fawkes Night, try to prepare your bonfire just before you light it. That way, there’s much less chance of a hedgehog already having set up home there.
The netting you use to protect your fruit can pose a threat to a hedgehog. Put away any netting once you’ve picked your fruit and it’s no longer needed. This prevents hedgehogs from becoming entangled and injuring themselves trying to get free.
When you’re trying to protect your plants from slugs, slug pellets may seem like the only option. However, if you want to protect your hedgehog population too, it’s best to use natural alternatives such as crushed eggshells or coffee grounds. Slug pellets can be poisonous to hedgehogs so, if you really don’t see an alternative, try to put them under a slate where slugs can reach them but hedgehogs can’t.
As well as eliminating hazards, there are lots of other things you can do to make your garden a more welcoming place for hedgehogs. Leave out hedgehog food and provide areas of leaf litter and logs to create the perfect habitat for these garden mammals.
Read our article Seven Amazing Facts about Hedgehogs for more on our prickly friends!
Love Hedgehogs? Check out our Hedgehog Gift Box which provides great nutrition for our prickly friends