Our series on hedges and hedgehogs continues with a brief look at three vital elements to their survival including the trickiest of all: hibernation.
October and November are crucial months for the hedgehog, especially this year as October has been mild and only in the first few days of November has the temperatures really started to drop across the country. This can be confusing for the hedgehog, playing havoc with their body-clocks so do keep an eye open.
HEDGES AND HEDGEHOGS: HIBERNATION
Hedgehogs go into hibernation in November and are at their most vulnerable when they re-emerge in late March or early April as it takes them a while to get back into the swing of things. Even if they are obviously awake, don’t disturb them during this period but do, if you can, feed them…
HEDGES AND HEDGEHOGS: FEEDING
…Hedgehogs benefit from being fed, not just in spring but throughout the summer and autumn as well. Providing, of course, you feed them the right stuff. NEVER, EVER give them bread and milk – yes, they love it but it will dehydrate them, make them ill and even kill them. Instead, a saucer of cat or dog food will do them well. Cheap own label tins are fine – but choose meat or poultry varieties.
HEDGES AND HEDGEHOGS: SLUGS & SNAILS
I’m a bit of a tennis fan and one of my regular playing partners likes to say: “Most amateurs play tennis to keep fit. I keep fit to play tennis.” Well, if you have hedgehogs in your garden and want them to thrive, you could adopt the same keen attitude as my friend, but towards slugs & snails: while most gardeners kill slugs and snails to protect their Hostas, why not grow Hostas (in an out-of-the-way shady corner) to encourage slugs & snails and so ensure a plentiful food supply for the hedgehogs?
I appreciate that putting out the welcome mat for a variety of garden gastropods may well be a step too far and if traditional and fatal measures are still required, then choose a brand of slug pellets that do not contain metaldehyde. They’re just as effective and won’t harm hedgehogs – though you should still remove the dead victims.
Of course, if you are already plagued by slugs & snails the best biological control is, you guessed it, hedgehogs! A single hedgehog wll eat all the slugs in an average 90m2 garden in just three months.