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Hedgehogs - How To Help Our Spikey Friends This Winter

Posted by Henry Jackson on

We Brits love our hedgehogs - they're funny, cute little creatures, and everyone loves to see one sniffing around at the bottom of our gardens. Of course, like with most wildlife, hedgehogs will usually find themselves struggling during the winter due to colder conditions and a decline in the amount of food they are able to find. You might think that all hedgehogs would be hibernating by now, but in reality some hedgehogs are not yet ready, and some may have had their hibernation distributed and are looking for a new spot. As such, these friendly little guys and girls will need our help to get by. This week, we here at Pet Food Plus More have written an article for you on how best to help your local hedgehogs through the season. 

Note: A lot of these tips also work throughout the year, and can help you attract more of them to your garden! 

The first thing to consider is whether your garden promotes a hedgehog-friendly environment. If your garden is completely flat grass, it is unlikely that a hedgehog will visit. Hedgehogs primarily feed off insects, and without a lot of vegetation for insects to congregate around, hedgehogs will most likely notice that there is not going to be a lot of food here. The vegetation can also help to make the hedgehogs feel welcome, providing them with a lot of places to hide if they feel like it. Though hedgehogs are mostly predatory creatures (towards insects only) they appreciate somewhere safe to stay as much as any other animal. Additionally, you may want to consider installing some kind of home for your local hedgehogs,where they can stay dry, warm, and safe. So if you've been thinking of putting some lovely plants in your garden, now is the time! A sturdy wooden box with a hole big enough for hedgehogs to fit into and enough space for them to comfortably curl up in will suffice for these purposes - just put it down on the floor in a quiet place in your garden (away from as much human activity as possible) and a hedgehog might move in! 

If you are concerned that your hedgehog may not be getting enough food or water, it is also possible to provide this for them. Water can be provided by simply putting out a cat bowl (or similar sized bowl) every night filled with water. For food, the best way to feed your hedgehog is by using a dedicated hedgehog food, such as spike's dinner. These foods provide all of your hedgehog's nutritional needs, and is designed to be super tasty to them. However, you can also alternatively feed them on either dry dog food or dry cat food. Though not as optimal, as long as you choose to us a food with a high meat content (chicken flavors are usually the best) the hedgehog should still find it palatable and nutritious. This food can be provided in two different ways. If you think the hedgehog will know how to find it, it is best to provide the food in another cat bowl (or similarly sized bowl). Alternatively, if you think the hedgehog will come into your garden to scavenge, and often see it sniffing around the floor, it may be a good idea to scatter the food across an area it is likely to look around. Bear in mind, however, that this may attract slugs to your garden. Though if you're sure the hedgehog will visit they will likely start eating these slugs for you.

The next thing to consider is how you behave around your hedgehogs. It can be easy to forget that humans can be quite scary to a hedgehog, which means that it is important to keep your distance. Some people have sometimes attempted to pick up hedgehogs, but it is highly advised not to do so. If you catch it, it is likely to become distressed and likely will never visit your garden again afterwards. There is only one exception to this, and that is when the hedgehog seems injured. If you've seen a lot of hedgehogs before you will likely know when one is injured, as you may notice it limping or if it looks very thin. If one is walking around during the day or laying the middle of the ground in the wide open, these are also worrying signs that should be addressed. If this is the case it may actually be better to pick up the hedgehog and wrap it in a warm towel or blanket, and take it to your nearest vets or hedgehog sanctuary (you can easily find where this is by typing 'hedgehog sanctuary' into google - it will show you a map of nearby ones). However, hopefully this will not be a common occurrence for you. 

Finally, be sure to follow these few other hedgehog safety tips. First of all, be careful about what chemicals you are using around your garden. If you are using pesticides, including powders, sprays, and slug pellets, these can be directly or indirectly eaten by your hedgehogs, and if they consume too much pesticide it can make them seriously ill, or sometimes worse. It is better if you investigated for other solutions to your pet problems first and only use pesticides when necessary. Also, be careful about leaving any water features or deep holes you may have in your garden uncovered. Deep water features, such as fountains and swimming pools - especially ones that do not have high sides to them, and holes, can all be extremely dangerous to hedgehogs if left uncovered. Hedgehogs can be very clumsy and sometimes cannot see what is in front of them very well. If a water feature or hole is not appropriately covered or drained the hedgehogs can fall in and injure themselves or drown, so be sure to take appropriate action. Also, note that if you are going to have a bonfire in your garden, or otherwise plan to light or clear any vegetation or bundles of sticks or leaves, that these places are the perfect environment for a hedgehog to hibernate. It is possible that the hedgehog may have crawled into the bundle when you weren't looking. As such, be sure that before you light any fires or clear these places that you check very thoroughly for any hedgehogs that may be hiding inside in order to prevent any accidents.

We here at Pet Food Plus More hope you have found this article to be useful to you and that you now feel knowledgeable enough to help your local friendly hedgehogs. Though we are not absolute experts at dealing with hedgehogs, if you have a question that you think we can help with, you can click here to contact us and we will be sure to help you to the best of our ability, though medical questions should be redirected to qualified vets.

Hope to see you in-store again sometime soon!
Henry Jackson, Head of IT for Pet Food Plus More.







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