Up until recently I had never seen a hedgehog in the wild. I still haven’t actually seen one but over the past week my trail camera has been filming a hedgehog that has been visiting my garden every night.
Over the summer holidays I plan to sleep out in the garden and meet this hedgehog face to face.
I had put the trail camera out to see if I could film the wood mouse that lives in our bug hotel and was very surprised to see lots of small clips of a hedgehog instead.
The first night the hedgehog was under the bird feeder cleaning up the fallen food, just where I thought the wood mouse would be.
The second night I put out a bowl of water and over the past week the hedgehog has been drinking out of the bowl at least 2 or 3 times a night, which shows the importance of water for wildlife especially during the summer.
We’ve had two trail cameras out in the garden to try and find out where the hedgehog comes in and out of the garden. So far we have found two main entrances but it looks like the hedgehog goes around every inch of the garden. The Hedgehog is doing a very good job of keeping our garden Slug free.
Hedgehogs live in hedgerows and woodland edges, they mainly eat beetles, earthworms, slugs and caterpillars which they find using their sense of smell. They mainly come out at night and they hibernate between November and the end of March.
Hedgehogs have been in decline since the 1950’s for many different reasons. The main reason is loss of habitat, with many open areas being built on, less hedgerows, gardens being fenced in and roads isolating populations. The use of pesticides and slug pellets are very harmful to hedgehogs, along with litter such as netting and the plastic rings that hold cans together.
I am a massive badger fan and on every website I have looked on about hedgehogs one of the first things that is mentioned is that the hedgehogs main predator is the badger. Badgers and hedgehogs have lived side by side since the ice age, they have a ASYMMETRIC INTRAGUILD PREDATORY RELATIONSHIP which means their relationship is complicated. The intraguild predation means that both the hedgehog and badger compete for the same food, that is, earthworms and other macroinvertebrates. When there is plenty of food around both hedgehog and badger will ignore each other, or at least the hedgehog will keep out of the badgers way. The asymmetric bit means that when food becomes scare the badger will eat the hedgehog. It is slightly more complex than that, as other factors such as numbers of badgers in one area, the amount of hedgerows to allow hedgehogs more cover, and badgers are better at adapting to change in farmland use than hedgehogs. Therefore even though badgers will occasionally eat hedgehogs they can not be blamed for the decline in their numbers.
There are lots of ways everyone can help encourage hedgehogs in to their gardens and help the population increase.
- Link your garden
- Make your pond safe
- Create a wild corner
- Clean up litter
- Put out food and water
- stop using chemicals
- Check before strimming
- Be careful with bonfires
- Build a Logpile