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How to ready your grounds & gardens for hedgehog hibernation!

As the sunny season draws to a close, and it starts to become dark earlier in the evening, it feels as though autumn has well and truly arrived. Gone are the light nights of summer. The days are shorter, the air is cooler, and the tree leaves begin to fade from green to reddish-orange or brown.

Whilst most people will be preparing to tidy up their campus grounds or gardens around this time of year, our loveable spiky friends will be preparing to find their winter nesting sites. It is so important that we, as their human helpers do our best to make that as easy as possible!

Be sure to stay and have a read of how you can help get your campus grounds and gardens ready for hoggie hibernation.

1. Leave the leaves!

Hedgehogs LOVE leaf piles. Not only do they provide a great potential nesting spot for hibernating animals but also a fantastic food source and bedding material. Here they can forage for insects to help build up their body fat reserves to get them through their winter sleep!

If you're not a fan of leaving fallen leaves to do as they please, try designating an area for a leaf pile. Ideally, the area should be identified as a safe area for hedgehogs, away from roads and frequently used places. Once you have collected the fallen leaves and gathered them into a pile in your chosen spot, you can either leave it as it is or you can create a storage cage! Remember the pile may look messy to you, but this is a 5-star hotel for hedgehogs.

2. Feed those hungry hogs!

Naturally, hedgehogs will feast on any creepy-crawly they can get their paws on. By not tidying up the garden this season, you will be allowing hedgehogs to munch on beetles, worms, caterpillars, and infrequently some slugs that will also be nesting in broken-down leaves. Just be careful not to use pesticides as these are poisonous for hedgehogs if they eat an insect contaminated, which is highly likely, it can make them incredibly unwell so do give them a miss!

If you want to give a helping hand to hedgehogs this autumn, we would recommend leaving out a shallow bowl of water, and either some good quality meaty hedgehog, dog or cat food, as well as some dry crunchy kitten biscuits, to help fatten up juveniles ready for winter hibernation. You could also create a feeding station to stop other animals from eating their food! Find out how by visiting the British Hedgehog Preservation Society website.

3. Give a hog a home!

Luckily for us, we have a house to shelter us from the wild winter weather, our outdoor hedgehogs do not. However, as their human helpers, we can assist with that! To give a hog a home this winter, you can either buy a wooden ready-made hedgehog house or create one yourself out of materials already in your garden. For example, leftover logs and twigs from tree cuttings make a perfect natural environment for hedgehogs to nest in. Pile it into an undisturbed corner of your garden or grounds and this will make the perfect shelter for an overwintering hog (it also attracts a ton of insects too!).

Another option is to make your own artificial hedgehog house out of bricks and wood! You can find out how to by visiting the hedgehog street website. Artificial houses are also great at protecting hogs from natural predators as most will feature an interior tunnel or a dividing wall that stops predators from getting their paws in!

4. Pick up litter for prickles!

Hedgehogs are very vulnerable when it comes to getting tangled up in litter as they are curious little creatures. Ever heard of curiosity killed the cat? Sadly, it's not far wrong for hedgehogs either. However, we can do our bit to make sure that we keep our local areas, including gardens and grounds free of litter. You can also help by making sure that anything you are planning on putting in the bin, is disposed of correctly.

Hedgehog Friendly Campus is currently running a national competition called the Big Hog Friendly Litter Pick Challenge. To get involved simply visit the Litter Pick Challenge area on our website, anybody can litter pick and you will be doing your bit to help hedgehogs and other wildlife within your local community! There's still time to sign up and #Pick4Prickles!

Bonfire night guidance:

With bonfire night coming up early next month, please make sure all bonfires are built on the day of lighting, and thoroughly checked for hedgehogs before setting alight! You can visit the BHPS page for full guidance on how to check for hedgehogs and how to build your hog-friendly bonfires.

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