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How do I encourage hedgehogs into my garden?

We use to have one or two passing hogs go through our garden but last year I did not see any or any of their 'calling cards'.

I don't want to put down cat food or milk down because I don't want to encourage next doors cat.

What can I do to encourage the hogs? and when is the best time to look for them in the garden. I must have been in the right spot by chance before.



  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 21,138

    Hedgehogs are wild animals, they go where they please, if you put milk down for them you will probably kill them off, they are lactose intolerant.

    I dont put cat food down either, they are quite capable of feeding themselves. As there is an increase in slugs over the past few years, due to mild winters, there is plenty of natural food for them. 

    Water in the summer is ideal though.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Hi, thanks for that. Did not know about the milk. I have not put any out in the past. I'll just let them grace their presence and when I see them consider it an honourimage

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286

    I think you can do a lot to encourage them, but I agree feeding them isn't the way. I don't feed 'ours' and I say ours as they do regularly put in appearances.

    Hedgehogs are really really mobile, they can travel quite surprising distances in a night. From my work in ecology though I see a pattern with wildlife movements. They don't travel far if everything they want is on the doorstep.

    So to encourage them to hang around, some huge piles of leaves, they will compost down eventually and you can harvest from the bottom in the spring and summer, hogs love piles of leaves for hibernation and just curling up and sleeping all year round.

    Water, they need to drink. A small wildlife pond with shallow sides which hogs can easily get out of would be the way to go.

    Food, this is where they help you in return, they'll find their food all over the garden.

    Purpose built shelters, increasingly popular are little houses for hedgehogs, I would put them under the leaves for insulation.

    Make sure too there is nothing stopping hogs visiting. Many of us now have the panel fencing with concrete kick boards. They act as a very effective barrier to hedgehogs, so if there is no way in you could consider making a hog friendly opening for them.

    In all it's the usual thing, don't be over tidy in the garden and wildlife will soon come, they just need food, water and shelter. 

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,202

    When our fencing was replaced, our builder made a 'Hedgehog Gate' in the bottom, so link our garden with those of the neighbours, so that the hedgehogs in the neighbourhood can travel about easily.

    Lots of info here image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Mark, I don't see any reason not to put feed out for hedgehogs, especially in Winter when their normal food sources are absent. Of course they are wild animals and can generally get by but they are becoming rarer and like starlings and other 'classified red' animals, they need our help. Birds are wild animals but we feed them - there is no argument that this is the right thing to do.

    If a hedgehog breaks it's hibernation and starts looking for food, it will possibly die. It has woken up because it is hungry or ill and does not have enough fat on it's body to get through the Winter so it starts foraging for food that isn't naturally around in Winter. Sue at Rochdale Hedgehog Rescue told me all this so it's on good authority.

    Even in Summer, hedgehogs resort to slugs rather than eating them as a first preference; in fact eating too many slugs, which suffer from lungworm, passes this fatal disease onto the hedgehog as I understand it so an alternative food source would be good for them in my view.

    Mark, if you decide to put food out, dried cat food (meat rather than fish based) and/or dried mealworms are nutritious and neither will freeze or become putrified outside. My own ideas of how to stop cats getting at these is maybe to put a couple of bricks on their sides, parallel to each other and about 6" apart, and place something on top and astride the bricks to form a tunnel which only the hog can get into. I found the hog that I am currently overwintering under my bird feeder so knowing that he will go there when I release him in Spring, I will place the feed tunnel under the feeder.

    It sounds like you have had hogs in your garden previously so you can't be doing much wrong in terms of your garden's suitability for them! Let a bit of your garden go wild and a bit messy, beside or behind a shed maybe, and throw swept up leaves down there along with twigs and any logs you have. Make sure your boundaries have escape routes in them - hogs roam through as many as 10 gardens each night looking for food. Grow a patch of wild or insect benificial flowers so that they have a source of insects and bugs to eat.

    Here is a great hedgehog site which I have used to help me overwinter my hedgehog (he is still hibernating by the way!) image

    Whatever you decide to do, good luck and here's hoping you spy those lovely cuteys again in your garden.

  • Peanuts3Peanuts3 Posts: 759

    I too would love hedgehogs in my garden.  I have found poop in the garden in the summer months, but am yet to figure out if it is fox or hedgehog (don't fancy dissecting it) We have all the above things mentioned, woody area, piles of leaves and sticks for them to hide in but have never seen one. 

    We do also have about 4 foxes that come through the garden so I've even tried asking if we can have a rescue hedgehog but can't because of the foxes. 

    I just live in hope I have one living down the end of the garden but they are too shy to be seen. (just like the fairies I tell my girls about...)

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,202

    I've just had an email from Hedgehog Street with the following information on creating a Hedgehog Friendly garden - thought you'd find it helpful

    1. Cherry (try varieties 'Stella' or 'Sunburst') A good urban tree: pick the right rootstock and it will fit in any sized garden. The leaves are the right size for hedgehogs to make their hibernation nests from so this will provide a ready natural source of bedding.

     2. Thyme Plant this between the cracks in your patio or in on the sunny edge of a bed. Aside from being incredible on roast chicken, it is the foodplant for several moth species = caterpillars = hedgehog food.

    3. Willow One of the best plants there is for encouraging insects, it ranks up there with the mighty oak. For smaller gardens consider growing a willow structure or maintaining as a coppiced plant to keep in check.

    4. Bird’s-foot-trefoil This legume is the foodplant for the common blue butterfly (and five others), and will also be very attractive to flying insects when in flower. Does well in a perennnial wildflower mix.

    5. Honeysuckle Aside from the glorious nectar-rich flowers, this plant keeps its structure during winter which makes it attractive as a nest site. Grow it over your log pile to maximise the potential of this feature.


    Visit this page to see more things you can do to improve your garden for hedgehogs...




    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Victoria SpongeVictoria Sponge WearsidePosts: 3,465

    I like that idea about the honeysuckle...image

    I bought an everlasting pea to grow over my log pile but I think a honeysuckle would be much better for the site it's in...

  • I live a few miles outside of wolverhampton on an ex (ish) council estate, theres quite a few hogs round here, i had to rescue two autumn orphans last year, the last one was on 18th of December, I found her in the middle of the road in the afternoon trying to eat a chocolate wrapper!

    Dove, thanks for that post image

    I agree with whats been said above, ive got log piles all around my garden behind the shrubs, and a (rather unkempt) hedge running all along the length of the garden. I also dont really do anything in my garden once the frosts start, not even an autumn tidy to put the garden to bed, i only started to tidy last week. As Dove said there is a trellis panel between us and next door so they can rome.

    I do feed the ones that visit, if im honest, probably for my enjoyment as much as theirs, it does allow me to keep an eye on them, which is how i found the first orphan, we have cats and foxes who share the food, so far the only squabbles have been between the cats and foxes, the hogs just get out of the way image

    Inerestingly, ive got most of the things on the list Dove posted, and the entire estate was planted with flowering cherry trees when it was built 50 or so years ago, maybe they made a hedgehog heaven without knowing it! image
  • Ditto the cherries! 

    A good few years ago I arrived home one evening and on getting out of the car heard an extraordinary noise. Sort of sucking, slurping sound. I eventually tracked it down to a family of hedgehogs, under my neighbours cherry tree, stuffing themselves on the fallen fruit. They were so intent on their noctural supper they completely ignored me.

    Absolutely delightful to watch and listen to.

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