That evening, as dusk fell, I staked out the hedgehog house, hoping to see Snuffles emerge and feed on the plate of dogfood that I had put out for him. I stood in the drizzle, watching a bat, the first I had seen this year, doing laps around the beech tree. I gave it an hour, but I had to get home, so I left, disappointed, without seeing Snuffles take his first steps back into the wild. There is evidence to suggest that hedgehogs kept in captivity for at least a month survive well when released, so Snuffles has every chance of living a normal, healthy life. Maybe I will catch a glimpse of him again one day, foraging in the garden. Perhaps he will bring back a mate and the garden will be filled with hoglets. But, then again, he might just disappear, to live his life out of human view, back where he belongs.
Now you do it
To make your garden hedgehog friendly:
- never use pesticides - slug pellets and other pesticides are dangerous to hedgehogs.
- create a garden with high biodiversity. This means having a range of different habitats and micro-habitats such as hedgerows, ponds, compost heaps, leaf litter and log piles, and a variety of different plants to attact the invertebrates that hedgehogs eat.
- provide additional food, such as tinned or dried dog or cat food, mealworms or chicken.
- ensure that hedgehogs are not fenced in or out of your garden. They need to roam over large areas, so leave gaps in boundary fencing to allow them to travel.
- make sure that swimming pools and ponds do not become hedgehog death traps and that there is always a way out, such as a ramp, should a hedgehog fall in.
- Be careful that any netting used in the garden can not trap a hedgehog.
- check for hedgehogs before strimming, mowing, lighting a bonfire etc.
- provide either a purpose-built hedgehog house or make your own.