There are many advantages of owning your own home and garden and undoubtedly one of them is that occasionally, you get to appreciate some of the wildlife that wanders in and out. One of the most welcome visitors is the hedgehog. Cute and a delight to watch, they have encouraged many people to think about hedgehog care, so that they can encourage their spiky visitors to keep visiting and help them to survive outside of the garden environment.
Most hedgehogs will be very shy, although with time they will get braver. If you want to reap the rewards of your new relationship, then hedgehog food will be the key. But what do hedgehogs eat? Hedgehogs usually eat beetles, worms, earwigs, millipedes, caterpillars and snails, and they are considered good allies for gardeners as they eat the slugs which feed on plants.
However, hedgehogs don't rely solely on insects for their feed. they are, by nature, omnivorous and will eat anything they can find which includes mushrooms, berries, frogs, carrion and any food which has fallen from a bird feeder or bird table. In fact, hedgehogs are like walking dustbins, whatever they can sniff out, they will eat. In fact, they can detect an earthworm or beetle under three inches of soil.
Thanks to the internet we all have more knowledge, so most of us know under no circumstances to give milk to hedgehogs. The milk will irritate their stomachs as they find it difficult to digest. This leads to dehydration and eventually, death. Instead put down fresh water every day. You can supplement their diet with hedgehog biscuits which are highly nutritious, and will provide them with a perfectly balanced diet, hedgehog biscuit boost is a great way to attract some spiky friends to your garden, they adore dried mealworms, our biscuit boost has a just the right balance of mealworms added to ensure they do not devour too many which can be harmful to them. You may have heard of hedgehogs becoming ill with metabolic bone disease from eating dried mealworms, this is only caused by eating far too many of them, so do ensure not to over feed them with treats.
Over the last few years, hedgehog numbers across the UK have dropped steeply. In fact, since 2001 their numbers have dropped by 20% according to a "Mammals on Roads" survey report. One of the reasons for this is that gardens are getting tidier with such things as decking and gravel, leaving very little in way of a natural habitat. By leaving a small undisturbed area in your garden you will encourage these fascinating creatures.
Litter too can be a threat to Hedgehogs, they have been known to get their heads caught in containers as they try and eat discarded food. One organisation addressing this problem is, surprisingly, McDonalds. In 2006 they changed their design of the desert containers to be more "Hedgehog Friendly". Small changes like this really make a difference.
With so many dangers that are encountered by our spiky friends, it's reassuring that commercial organisations as well as individuals are doing their bit to get hedgehog numbers back to where they were over a decade ago.