The Corporate Communications Green Impact team have created this handy page to show you what you can do to help hedgehogs.

Hedgehogs favour travelling along edges such as walls and hedges

Around the world there are 14 species of hedgehog but the UKs species is the European hedgehog. They’re found across the UK in our gardens, hedgerows, woodlands, grasslands, parks and cemeteries. Adult hedgehogs can travel anywhere between 1-2km per night to search for food and mates. However, since the year 2000 we’ve lost half of our hedgehogs from the countryside and a third from towns and cities.

Why the severe decline?

  • Agricultural intensification – modern farming methods have destroyed many of the habitats hedgehogs like such as hedgerows and many techniques use chemicals and pesticides which can kill hedgehogs preferred food source of bugs
  • Increase in badgers – badgers are the only animals that can unroll and kill hedgehogs. Their numbers have increased by more than 85% since the mid-1980s.
  • Increase in roads and traffic – roads act as barriers to hedgehogs and isolate populations making them more vulnerable to dying off in that area. They also get injured and killed when trying to cross the road.
  • Climate change – changes to our climate during the summer could reduce the ability of hedgehogs to build up enough fat reserves prior to hibernation. Changes during the winter might make them more likely to come out of hibernation when there is little or no food available. Localised flooding is also likely to pose a risk to hedgehogs which are breeding or hibernating in nests on the ground.

How to make a hedgehog house

Hedgehog houses provide a safe and warm place for hedgehogs to hibernate. Check out this video to see how you can make a hedgehog house at the University of Sheffield!

Where can I put a hedgehog house?

Hedgehog box in a quiet, sheltered location underneath foliage
  • Hibernating hedgehogs like peace and quiet. Put the house where it won’t be disturbed, against a wall, bank or fence if possible and under or near plant cover.
  • The north wind doth blow, so face the entrance away from north or north-east and you’re more likely to encourage a guest.
  • Hedgehogs like to furnish their own homes with leaves and garden debris – it’s part of their hibernation ritual – so don’t line the box for them.
  • Don’t disturb the box once it’s occupied. You might frighten a nesting mother and cause the young to be abandoned.
  • If you can, put your hedgehog home in or near a damp, untidy area so that hedgehogs are protected when they come out to forage.

Find out ways to make hedgehog houses at home:

What else can I do to help?

Create hedgehog highways
Hedgehogs need to be able to roam far and wide in search of food, mates and nesting sites. Get together with your neighbours to cut a 13cm x 13cm hole (5in) hole in your fence or dig a channel beneath garden boundaries to connect your gardens. You can then add your hedgehog hole to the national network at HedgehogStreet.org.

Avoid the use of pesticides
Ditch the slug pellets and avoid the use of pesticides. Hedgehogs are natural “pest” controllers and need a plentiful and varied supply of invertebrate prey to stay healthy.

Make water safe
Hedgehogs are great swimmers but can sometimes struggle to climb out of steepsided ponds and they tire quickly. Provide a ramp from a plank wrapped in chicken wire or create shallow areas at the edge so they can scramble out.

Homemade woodpile hedgehog house

Provide nesting sites
Log and leaf piles, wilderness areas and purpose-built hedgehog homes (see above!) make great places for hedgehogs to nest and hibernate. Fallen leaves also make the perfect nesting material, so make sure you don’t clear all of these away. Grow a wide variety of plants. Attract plenty of natural hedgehog food by keeping your garden diverse with a wide variety of habitats e.g. ponds, log piles, hedges, and a wide range of plant types. Don’t be afraid to let your grass grow a little wild and leave some leaf litter – as both are important homes for the hedgehog’s prey.

Be aware of dangers
Check for hidden hedgehogs before lighting bonfires, strimming and mowing the lawn. Keep plant netting, tennis nets and household rubbish above ground level to prevent entanglement.

To find out more information or enquire about setting up a hedgehog house at the University please contact j.beckford@sheffield.ac.uk

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