Sunday, 22 March 2015

a helping hand for hedgehogs

We are developing lovely gardens here at Cordwood. And all lovely gardens have lovely plants. But, I am going to suggest that there's something just as important in any good garden: hedgehogs. The presence of hedgehogs indicates that a garden is healthy.

Beauty with biodiversity is our aim and so we've been managing the gardens to increase invertebrate numbers. No pesticides are used. Lots of mulching. And we leave piles of vegetation that can act as wildlife refuges.

hedgehog poo
In Britain hedgehog numbers have declined alarmingly in recent years. This decline is attributed to a range of different factors including changing land use, the increase in badger numbers and the compartmentalisation of our gardens so that hedgehogs can't wander freely. Roadkill too must be an issue.

We are in a perfect place to create a mini hedgehog reserve here. We are some way from busy roads, for the most part garden organically and have woodland nearby. Although we have foxes, we have no badgers on site.

When we came to Cordwood it was a big disappointment to find no evidence of hedgehogs - but we must be doing something right now. Last summer we saw different hedgehogs most nights. They particularly loved our compost bays that were chock full of tasty invertebrates. And the Woodland Garden was a happy hunting ground for them too.

Already this year we have much evidence of their presence on the lawn: they're leaving us lots of faeces! My photo shows a typical one. Full of the fibrous remains of insects, dark in colour and about 25mm (one inch) long.

So, they're here - and perhaps in encouraging numbers. How can we give the hedgehogs a further help? I'll show you....

Here's our hedgehog feeding station. An old plastic box turned upside down and weighted with a brick.
Two holes are cut to allow entry and exit in case two hedgehogs are in there at the same time. They fight so it makes sense to give a way out.
And dog food.

We've placed the feeding station in the area where there was hedgehog 'evidence'. We now wait with excitement to see if it works.

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