Mark's Guide to Hedgehog Help & Care
The Decline of the Hedgehog
Animal House Bridport would like to help promote the work of the Dorset Mammal Group, (www.dorsetmammalgroup.wordpress.com) who are aiming to reverse the decline of the hedgehog population in Dorset by developing towns and villages into hedgehog friendly habitats.
As hedgehogs travel around one mile every night in their quest to find enough food, and a mate, the Dorset Mammal Group is trying to make their life easier. They are encouraging residents to develop hedgehog friendly streets by making holes in or under their garden fences and walls for hedgehogs to pass through.
They are also encouraging residents to adopt hedgehog friendly activities in their garden by providing food and shelter in gardens and where slug pellets are not used. If you have a hedgehog you also have a very efficient slug consumer!
Bridport, Piddletrenthide, East Stour, Halstock, Blandford, Dorchester and Bere Regis are already hedgehog friendly towns & villages. Beaminster, Milborne St Andrew, Portland and Hazelbury Bryan have just started their journey.
Here is some very helpful advice from their leaflet, "The Dorset Mammal Group HEDGEHOG DOs and DONTs"
Do offer food, and especially water in dry weather, when hedgehogs find it difficult to locate molluscs and invertebrates (including beetles, caterpillars and earth worms).
Do feed hedgehogs cat or dog meat.
Don't feed them gravy based food as these can cause diarrhoea.
Don't feed them whole peanuts or raisins as these can get stuck in the roof of the mouth making it difficult to for an animal to eat, or worse still, can cause choking.
Don't feed them sunflower hearts, mealworms or peanuts as they all contain high levels of phosphorus which diverts calcium away from bone growth and cause crippling bone disease.
Don't feed hedgehogs bread and milk. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant and milk upsets their tummies, causing diarrhoea. Also bread has not nutritional value to hedgehogs.
Making your garden hedgehog friendly
Do make sure hedgehogs have access to your garden by making holes under fences and walls. Holes should be about 13cm or 5 inches square to allow a full grown hedgehog to pass through with ease.
Do create a wild area in your garden and leave patches of rough, unmown ground for hedgehogs to forage for invertebrates.
Do make a log pile or leave a heap of garden cuttings in a shady area or corner creating shelter as well as a food source.
Do take care when using strimmers, trimmers and mowers as hedgehogs make their day nests in dense vegetation and long grass.
Do make sure any water features have facilities for hedgehogs to climb out such as rocks or a sloping board.
Don't use slug pellets (not even environmentally friendly ones) as these can cause poisoning and death when pellets or slugs are ingested.
Don't turn your compost heap with a fork as it may contain nesting hedgehogs. Instead use a spade or shovel.
Don't light a bonfire unless it is built from scratch and lit the same day. There may be a sleeping hedgehog under an old bonfire and they can take up to four hours to wake up if disturbed.
Don't let your dog out after dark in your garden unless it is under control on a lead or muzzled. Some of the most frequent and unnecessary injuries to hedgehogs have been from dog bites.
For any further help in Dorset please contact:
Hayley's Hedgehog Rescue (West Dorset) – 07411379208
Ilford Meadows Hedgehog Rescue (East Dorset) – 07803905298
Or for your nearest rescue centre please contact:
The British Hedgehog Preservation Society – 01584890801