It’s Hedgehog Awareness Week this month (4 – 10th May) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society is asking everyone to make a promise to do one extra thing to help hedgehogs during the week. You could make a 5” square hole in a boundary fence to allow easy access for ‘hogs, put out suitable food and water, display an information poster from BHPS, make a log pile, the list is endless and most tasks will only take a few minutes, so please do get involved. See www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk for more information.
It is difficult to know when the first litters of hoglets will be born. In most years it is late May to June that the first litters appear but this year the weather has been milder and the adults may have come out of hibernation that much earlier.
Do bear this is mind when gardening. Under a shed is an ideal place for a female hedgehog to make her nursery nest. However, every year we get calls about sheds being demolished and gardeners then find a nest with mother and hoglets under the flooring. If there has not been too much disturbance and the mother is still around she may well move her hoglets to a new nest. However if she does not return overnight then the hoglets may need to be rescued. If you do disturb a nest give the BHPS a call ASAP for more detailed advice on how the help the family stay together.
Any hoglets found out in the day will need to be rescued and remember they do not come in ones so search for other “orphans”. Listen for a high pitched squeak, this is their distress call. Also watch out for both domestic and wild creatures that are interested in a certain spot in the garden, they may have spotted a potential meal in an abandoned hoglet.
If a pile of leaves appears overnight in the garden this may also be an indication of a new nest. Sometimes female hedgehogs move their nursery nest at the last moment and can be seen gathering nesting material and making a new nest. This can even be seen in the daytime. However the hedgehog will be moving with a purpose, and unlike most hedgehogs seen out in the day, will not need to be rescued. Watch the area and with luck around 4 weeks later the hoglets may be seen venturing out of the nest for the first time.
Try to make your garden safer for hedgehogs. See the BHPS’s leaflet on “Gardening with Hedgehogs” which gives lots of ideas on helping your local hedgehogs stay safe. If in doubt about whether a hedgehog needs to be rescued give the BHPS a call, it is better safe than sorry and the sooner one is rescued the more chance it has of surviving.
If you are concerned about any hedgehog that you see contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584 890801 (if you can weigh the hedgehog first that is always helpful). For more information about hedgehogs and how to help them visit the BHPS web site at www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk