17th November 2022: As the weather gets colder and the evenings turn darker, much of the local wildlife has settled into hibernation season. As such, many people will be looking for ways to protect the UK’s wildlife at this time. Barratt Developments Yorkshire East shares its top tips on how homeowners can protect hedgehogs within their local areas this winter.
Research from RSPB has found that hedgehogs are in rapid decline, with a shocking estimated 30 mil decrease in the furry critters since the 1950s, across England, Scotland and Wales.
There are many reasons for the decline, from pesticides and fertilisers used in farming, traffic on the roads, or the lack of wildlife corridors for hedgehogs to safely move around the landscape. But there are also many ways in which people can support, as Barratt Developments Yorkshire East reveals.
Leave a little mess
A little mess never hurts, and in fact for hedgehogs, it can save lives. Providing hedgehogs with cover will help to protect them when they wake up from hibernation and search for food. A pile of leaf litter in particular is well received – so don’t be hasty throwing away your leaf piles!
Avoid using pesticides and fertilisers as not only do they cause severe damage to hedgehogs and other forms of wildlife, but they’re also not needed – hedgehogs love to snack on slugs and snails, which means that they’re also managing the pest control for you!
Did you know that hedgehogs can travel up to 12 miles a night? This often involves crossing busy roads, and scurrying around gardens. Homeowners can help to protect them as they travel around by creating ‘hedgehog highways’. Simply create a small hole at the bottom of the fence to allow hedgehogs to feed and find a mate – roughly 13 x 13cm (the size of a CD case) will do the trick!
Hogging the food
Hedgehogs love to eat, but they have sensitive stomachs, with milk and bread often causing digestive issues. Instead, try placing down some fresh water and canned pet food to keep their bellies healthy and full. This will also help them to achieve the ideal weight before they go into hibernation, which is crucial for hoglets born later down the line.
For those who may be building bonfires this year, it’s important to ensure that you’re protecting the local wildlife in the process. This includes building your bonfire on the same day that it is going to be lit, and ensuring this is done on open ground, as ground covered with leaves may be harbouring a hedgehog.If you have to build it in advance, add chicken wire across the bottom up to one metre in height, so curious hedgehogs are unable to climb up.
Make sure to always manually check your bonfire before lighting it too.
Barratt Developments has a long-standing partnership with RSPB, and has worked closely with the organisation to identify key research and advice on how to nurture the local wildlife this winter season.
For more inspiration and guidance on how to help your local hedgehogs and other wildlife, please visit the RSPB’s Nature on Your Doorstep.