‘Start a compost heap’ now to provide wildlife including hedgehogs with a ‘source of food’

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Spring has arrived in the UK which means many will be out and about in their gardens, doing jobs such as cutting the lawn and pruning. When gardening this month, GardeningExpress recommended keeping hedgehogs in mind. With their population in decline, there are plenty of ways to help the animals in the garden.

Those with a garden can keep the creatures safe by leaving holes in fences, creating a wildlife corner as a source of food and covering any man made dangers.

Chris Bonnett from GardeningExpress.co.uk said: “Hedgehogs usually hibernate from October or November, all the way through to March or April.

“These wild animals can be extremely picky, after all, their coat contains around 5000 spines, plus they get very stressed when handled.

“Like all living creatures, hedgehogs are playing an important part in our ecosystem so it’s a good idea to look after them. Avoid using slug pellets which include metaldehyde, they are very dangerous and are banned in the UK.”

One way gardeners can help hedgehogs in their garden is to create a hole in the fence.

Allowing hedgehogs access to the garden is an important part for them to thrive in urban areas.

According to the experts, the “easiest way” to create a hole is by cutting a 12cm wide hole in the bottom of the fence.

They added: “Start a compost heap in your garden as it will be great for all kinds of wildlife but will also provide hedgehogs with a solid source of food.

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“Insects and invertebrates will live in the pile for the hogs to snack on, plus the food waste and grass, plant and shrub cuttings make it the perfect hibernation spot.

“Hedgehogs can easily fall into uncovered drains or holes in your garden. Cover holes or check them every day to make sure no hedgehogs have become trapped.”

Gardeners can also create a wildlife corner in their gardens which will help a huge amount of insects and animals.

The experts said: “Creating a high grassed area will benefit the whole ecosystem in your garden. Wildflowers can be planted from seed, as it’s illegal to remove them from the wild, to add colour.

“Let grasses and weeds grow to provide shelter or privacy for hedgehogs.

“Hibernating creatures really benefit from small, sheltered spaces in the garden.

“Place a reasonably sized wooden box out of direct sunlight, under thick vegetation or by the garden shed. Resist the temptation to keep removing the lid to check if the box is being used.

“It’s always best not to disturb any potential hedgehog residents.”

The animals also make their own homes and nests in sheltered places which is why the experts are urging Britons to check areas of the garden before lighting a bonfire or binning a pile of leaves.

Gardeners should also check grass cuttings.

The experts explained: “The creatures hiss, so keep an ear out for that sound when clearing compost heaps and bags of rubbish.

“In the wild, hedgehogs eat beetles, worms, caterpillars, slugs and most anything they can catch.

“They will benefit from extra food to supplement their natural diet all year round.

“Meaty cat or dog food is suitable to feed them. Water is also important, especially in dry periods when natural water sources dry up but remember to never give them milk.

“They’re lactose intolerant and it will make them very poorly.”

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