We’ve not seen it for a few days now but given the warmer weather I’m now setting out dog food and have cut the underneath of a couple of fence panels to allow it to come in without hindrance.
Hedgehogs are found throughout the UK, save a few Scottish islands. Gardens, hedgerows, woodlands, grasslands, parks, and cemeteries are all important hedgehog habitats, and adult hedgehogs travel between 1 - 2km per night over home ranges between 10 - 20 hectares in size searching for food and mates – that’s entire housing estates and neighbourhoods!
Hedgehogs are nocturnal and only come out at night. They can be heard snuffling and grunting as they forage for food. Although their eyesight is poor, they have good hearing and well-developed sense of smell.
Hedgehogs are good runners, proficient climbers and can even swim. However, if you have a garden pond always make sure it has a shallow area from where the hedgehog, and other animals, can escape.
They are covered with a coat of very sharp spines, which are hollow and made of keratin (like your fingernails). Hedgehogs can roll into a ball and the spines will protect them from predators, except badgers and the occasional dog.
During the day, and during winter hibernation, the hedgehog will sleep in a specially built nest in thick undergrowth, under a shed, in piles of leaves or unlit bonfires. It will never sleep or hibernate outside a nest.
Hedgehogs are insectivores that eat all manner of garden invertebrates from beetles, millipedes and worms to slugs and snails. They usually hibernate between November through to mid-March, but can sometimes be seen out and about during this period changing nesting sites.
Everyone’s contribution is important. Combined, our gardens provide a space for wildlife larger than all our national nature reserves, so by gardening in a wildlife-friendly way, we can help our spiky companions move around safely and find a home.
It is unusual to see a hedgehog staggering around during winter or in daylight, so if you do see one and it looks unwell, it might need a helping hand.
For further information on hedgehogs and how you can make your garden suitable for them along with caring for ones you find our during the day or in winter, it’s worth visiting the RSPCA website.