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
Top 6 Wildlife Charities in the UK
If you want to donate to a wildlife charity, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice. There are countless wildlife organisations in the UK working tirelessly to support native species. To make your decision a little easier, we’ve created a list of some of the best UK wildlife charities, summarising who they are and what they do:
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was founded way back in 1889. Through nature reserves, petitions and public awareness campaigns, the organisation seeks to conserve bird populations throughout the UK. The charity also runs annual birdwatching days. These are, in effect, huge wildlife surveys giving an up-to-date impression of birdlife and bird numbers across the country.
The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)
The WWT runs nine nature reserves across the UK. The charity’s aim is to preserve wetlands, which are a primary source of drinking water for both humans and wildlife. The reserves are a place where people, young and old, can learn about the wetland habitat and the creatures that make it their home.
Marine Conservation Society
The Marine Conservation Society takes care of the UK’s seas and the creatures living within it. The charity campaigns for sustainable seafood. It works with fisherman to find more sustainable methods of fishing and promotes sustainability amongst retailers and consumers. Every year MCS volunteers also tidy up beaches across the country and conduct projects with local communities to ensure our seas are clean and healthy environments for everyone to enjoy.
Butterfly Conservation is a charity dedicated to protecting the UK’s declining butterfly and moth populations. The organisation has established reserves around the country, works to survey the UK’s butterflies and moths and raises awareness of their plight.
Named after one of Beatrix Potter’s most famous characters, Tiggywinkles is one of the world’s leading wildlife hospitals. Based in Buckinghamshire, it’s open every day and every hour of the year to treat injured and orphaned animals. It takes in over 10,000 every year and aims to release them all back into the wild.
Bumblebee Conservation Trust
Following an alarming decline in bumblebee numbers, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust was established in 2006. The charity works to establish bee-friendly habitats and encourages the general public to make changes to their own gardens. They are currently working to reintroduce the short-haired bumblebee (declared extinct in the UK in 2000) back into the country.
Donations from sales of our gift boxes for bird and wildlife lovers support the amazing work that WWT and Butterfly Conservation do.
What to Do If You Find a Baby Bird
In the spring or summer, as baby birds are hatching and fledging, it’s not uncommon to find one sitting on the ground. But what should you do if you come across a baby bird?
First you need to determine whether it’s a nestling or a fledgling.
What is a Nestling?
Nestlings don’t have feathers and may be covered in fluffy down. They are unlikely to fall out of the nest by accident.
What is a Fledgling?
Fledglings have most of their feathers. It’s common for fledglings to leave the nest a few days before they can fly. Parents are likely nearby and still providing food.
Helping a Nestling
Nestlings sometimes fall out of the nest. Unhealthy or ailing nestlings are sometimes pushed out of the nest by a parent who chooses to focus on their healthy offspring.
If you find a healthy chick on the ground, you should try and return it to its nest. With clean hands or gloves, pick up the bird and place it carefully back in the nest. You need to be 100% certain that you’ve found the right nest before attempting this.
If the nestling you find is injured or you can’t find the nest it came from, you should call a wildlife rehabilitation centre who can advise you on what to do next. Don’t offer any food or water in the meantime.
Helping a Fledgling
In most cases, it’s safe to leave a fledgling exactly where you find it. A protective parent is usually nearby and the fledgling isn’t in any danger.
If, however, you find the bird on a busy walkway or road, in danger of being attacked or trodden upon, you can move it to a safer spot. Only move the fledgling a short distance so it can continue to communicate with its parents.
Keep an eye on the fledgling from a distance to ensure that its parents are still close by. If, after close monitoring, you’re sure that a fledgling has been orphaned, do as you would for a nestling and call a rehabilitation centre.
Taking a bird out of the wild is always a last resort. But sometimes expert care is needed. Whilst there’s lots of internet advice on how to look after a wild bird yourself, only a specialist can offer a baby bird the care it needs to survive and thrive.
5 Tips to Attract Wildlife to Your Garden
Enjoying wildlife from the comfort of your own garden – what could be better? If your outside space isn’t proving popular with the local animal population, take a look at our top five tips for attracting wildlife to your garden:
Create a Water Source
Birds and small mammals need water to drink. Frogs and newts can use it as a breeding ground. A pond with sloping sides and plants to provide cover from predators is ideal. But if you don’t have the space for something so big, any container, even an upturned dustbin lid, will do the trick.
Put out Food
Most creatures get the nourishment they need from their natural environment. But sometimes adverse weather conditions or habitat changes can hamper their ability to find adequate food. Research the best foods to provide for garden animals and leave it for your visitors on a regular basis. Your garden will be instantly more attractive to wildlife.
Let Sections of the Garden Go Wild
A carefully manicured lawn won’t attract wildlife to your garden. In contrast, a wildflower meadow acts as a wildlife haven. It will attract small mammals, butterflies and bees. If you don’t want to let your garden go completely wild, try to leave longer grass or wildflowers in designated sections. A small pile of decaying wood will also create a welcoming habitat for various species of beetle.
A bird box, a bat box, a hedgehog house, a bumble bee nester or a bug hotel – installing a wildlife friendly habitat is a great way to bring animals to your garden time and again. Do your research to maximise your chances of attracting wildlife to your habitat. Every bird and mammal species has their own set of preferences when it comes to house hunting.
Choosing flowers that provide high levels of pollen and nectar will attract bees, butterflies and other insects to your garden. Highly bred flower species contain little pollen or nectar so, if you do have some of these in your garden, counteract with plants like crocus, lavender, iris or alliums. You could go even further by carefully selecting plants to ensure constant flowering throughout the year, thus ensuring a year round food source for pollinators.
A garden full of wildlife is interesting for you and good for the environment. Introduce some wildlife-friendly changes and your garden could soon be a hive of mammal, bird, insect and amphibian activity. Take a look at our wildlife subscription gift box which makes an ideal present for a nature lover
Top 5 Things Not to Feed Your Birds
Providing food is a great way to attract birds to your garden. It can also help them through food shortages and the bleaker winter months. But you should always feed your avian visitors responsibly. Here are the top five things not to feed your birds:
Peanuts are a favourite for many birds but salted peanuts are a big no-no. Most birds can’t process salt and may die if they ingest too much of it. Whole nuts in the spring also pose a hazard as parents may feed them to their young, causing a risk of choking.
All bread, but particularly white bread, fills a bird’s stomach but provides little nutrition. There are lots of other healthier alternatives to offer.
Vegetable, chicken or turkey fat
Fat can end up coating a bird’s feathers and making it difficult for them to fly. If you want to make homemade fat balls for your birds, you should avoid using polyunsaturated fat or butter.
Whilst some birds are partial to a little bit of cheese, milk isn’t a good idea. It can cause severe stomach upsets.
Fresh coconut is a tasty treat for the birds in your garden but avoid desiccated coconut at all costs. It can swell in the stomach and be fatal to birds unless properly soaked beforehand.
How to Look After Your Garden Wildlife in July
How to Look After Your Garden Wildlife in July
During the height of summer your garden is likely to be in full bloom – bursting with beautiful colour and scent. There’s also lots of wildlife about. Here are a few tips for looking after your garden wildlife in July:
Baby frogs are likely to be making an appearance around now. Plant foliage or leave long grass around your pond to provide them with shelter from predators.
Baby hedgehogs are also on the move in July. They like meat-based cat or dog food and water. Providing these things will give them the extra food they need to prepare for hibernation in the autumn.
Avoid trimming your hedges until you’re sure there are no birds nesting there. Blackbirds and thrushes can nest as late as August. Also, keep your bird bath topped up with water on warmer days to provide drinking water.
Wildflower weeds such as daisies and dandelions provide a good source of nectar for bees. Leave areas of your lawn for these plants to grow. Also consider planting bee friendly biennials that will flower next year.
Your plants and flowers are a lifeline for bees and butterflies. Be sure to give them plenty of water during dry spells to keep them fighting fit.