If you’re anything like us, you just LIVE for this time of year. Crisp Autumn nights are made nice and cosy with hot chocolate, sticky toffee puddings and of course a bloomin’ big bonfire that lights up the sky and warms you down to your little cotton socks.
But we’re not the only ones who love to kick up some leaves this time of year – hedgehogs come in a very close second! Right about now, they’re gorging on slugs, spiders and other creepy crawlies so they can have a nice, long snooze. Or in science-y speak, they’re about to hibernate. Unfortunately, us humans have made it pretty tricky for these balls of prickles to find the perfect bed for themselves, or do very much at all!
Right now, there are just under a million in the wild; that may sound a lot, but in the 1950’s there were 30 million of these critters running around. 30 million! There isn’t one specific cause, but loss of habitat, increased farming, busier roads and a rise in the number of badgers definitely doesn’t help.
So what can we do to help our spiky little friends? We went to Prickly Ball Farm, a farm dedicated to caring for injured or sick hedgehogs, to find out!
Build Your Bonfires Last Minute
The one time being prepared is a bad idea! Stacking all your burnable items right before you set it alight will unsure an unsuspecting hedgehog hasn’t had time to make a nice little nest in amongst the bonfire! If you really MUST be organised, make sure you give the ground underneath a gentle poke to wake them up in time!
Keep Your Garden a Little Bit Messy
A hooray for lazy gardeners everywhere! The advice from wildlife experts is to look at your garden as a mini nature reserve – twigs, leaves and bushes are a hedgehog’s paradise. Or, if you want to give your little garden lodgers the V.I.H experience, you can make up you own hedgehog house to make sure they are completely undisturbed!
Have Holes in Your Fences
This may sound like we just want you to have a really shabby garden, but these little Tom & Jerry style holes will make sure a hedgehog can take refuge in your lovely garden! Hedgehogs travel 1-2 miles a night searching for food, shelter and mates, so the easier they can get around, the more likely they’re to survive.
If You Find a Hedgehog…
Rejoice! You’re one of the lucky ones to have spotted one this year! It may be peckish, so offer it cat/dog meat or cat/dog biscuits, or you could also use bird seed, sunflower hearts, meal worms, unsalted peanuts, raisins and dried fruit, and only offer it water to drink!
Donate to Your Local Hedgehog Hospital
There’s no such thing as an NHS or private healthcare for hedgehogs unfortunately, so donating to places like Prickly Ball Farm ensure they can get the care they need if they do become ill, or lose their homes and habitat! Olbas oil for sniffly hedgehog noses, newspapers, cat food and blankets are all greatly appreciated at hedgehog hospitals up and down the country. If you do want to make a donation, you can find their info here!
We would just like to say a massive thank you to Prickly Ball Farm for letting come to visit, and in particular Danielle who is a hedgehog genius and answered all of our many questions! The hedgehogs are lucky to have you!