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A Place for Hedgehogs
3rd April 2017
Hedgehogs love gardens. A good garden is like an Aladdin’s cave of treats and treasures for a hedgehog. Urban spaces offer plenty of feeding opportunities, as well as warmth and plentiful secure places to sleep. No wonder hedgehogs have become urban dwellers just like us. Together we share the advantages of the urban environment and together we prosper.
Hedgehogs are welcome night time visitors picking up the action after the birds retire to sleep. In springtime, as the temperature slowly rises, they become active once again following the long sleep. When they first wake up they’re really hungry and thirsty and might even risk trotting across a frosty lawn in their eagerness for a first meal.
It’s not unusual to find several zig zag tracks across a dewy springtime lawn, where hedgehogs have been busily tracking back and forth seeking grubs, bugs and worms. They’ll rise at dusk and forage throughout the night, snuffling and snorting and trying to put on as much weight as they can. Go out barefooted one spring evening and stand on the lawn. Experience what a hedgehog must feel on its tummy and listen out for the surprisingly loud grunts and rustling among the borders that clearly give away the presence of a foraging hedgehog.
As spring warms into summer, hedgehogs will extend their nightly forays travelling across several gardens. In a single evening a walk of 2-3 miles is common while seeking the company of a mate. By late May or early June, the first young of the year will be born and just a few weeks later they’ll start venturing out with mother on her rounds. Once the summer sun is hot on your back and the land has fully warmed, select a fine evening along with a fine wine and quietly enjoy them in the garden. Soak up all the sounds and smells of nature around you but keep an eye peeled for the possibility of being treated to the wonder of a procession of hog and hoglets as mother takes her young out on their first foraging trip.
You can easily enrich your own garden for visiting hedgehogs with a regular supply of food and a bowl of clean water. If you’re ready for the next step, you may want to consider adding a specially constructed house or by creating a quiet corner with plenty of organic matter. All these things will be joyfully utilised by your spikey visitors and they’ll quickly reward you by visiting often and even taking up permanent residence.
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