What to Do With Hedgehogs in Your Garden

Essential tips to welcome hedgehogs into your garden. Avoid mistakes that harm their well-being. Create a friendly environment for a healthy habitat.

5 MIN 17 Jan
Last update: 22 Jan 2024
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Have you spotted a hedgehog (or, even better, a family of hedgehogs) in your garden? Lucky you! You’ll probably want to know how to welcome them and protect this very important garden visitor. 

Because hedgehogs are a sign of the health of your garden’s ecosystem, and we should definitely help them thrive. 

This article explores what to do with hedgehogs in your garden. 

Ready? Let’s go! 

What to do if you spot a hedgehog in your garden

If you see a hedgehog, you don’t necessarily need to do anything — ideally, leave it to its own devices. They’ll arrive in search of food, appearing nocturnally between April and September, hibernating in the winter. 

The hedgehog’s calendar of action

Hedgehogs typically live between two and five years, hibernating during the winter, losing around a third of their body weight. So, when they are active, they must regain their strength before their mating season in May. 

This means that April to May is the prime feeding season to rebuild their energy and vigour. 

They begin building their litter once they’re back to strength in July. And once they’ve done their parenting for the year, they’ll build their winter nest, protecting them from predators and the elements during their hibernation. 

Hedgehogs are a protected species

There’s nothing to fear from a hedgehog — in fact, hedgehogs have way more reason to fear us because their numbers are declining due to an increased loss of natural habitat. 

So, if you spot one of these prickly little creatures, you should not disturb them or try to catch them. Hedgehogs move very little during the day, so you’ll only really spot them at night in your garden — this is how to protect them:

How to protect a hedgehog

Hedgehogs are welcome in gardens because they eat many of the garden pests we try so hard to remove, such as slugs, beetles, and snails. 

So, be careful about laying out slug pellets because they can poison your friendly hedgehogs. 

We favour more natural ways of tackling slugs and snails.

Keeping a hedgehog warm

Leaves piled up around hedgehog homes

Hedgehogs prefer sheltered garden corners. So, when your trees lose their leaves in the autumn, rake them into a mound in the corner, and you’ll create a pleasant, warm environment for a hedgehog’s home. 

Alternatively, you could buy a specially manufactured hedgehog house, but place them where they won’t be disturbed by pets and children. 

According to the Hedgehog Shelter, every garden makes a suitable home for a hedgehog, provided it can come and go as it pleases. So, create a “hedgehog highway” by leaving small gaps between your fencing to aid its entry and regress. 

Are pets a threat to hedgehogs?

If you’re a cat owner, you don’t have much to worry about because cats typically leave hedgehogs alone. However, dogs can attack, often coming out worse due to the hedgehog’s spines. 

In general, dogs don’t attack hedgehogs more than once — the spines usually teach them a lesson about leaving the hedgehogs be. 

Will mowing my lawn disturb nearby hedgehogs?

Be careful when mowing near or under bushes — check that there are no hedgehogs in hiding, and avoid cutting those areas if they’re nearby. 

Check for hedgehogs before cutting long grass, and cut initially to around 30cm before cutting any shorter. 

How to feed a hedgehog

A hedgehog eating cat biscuits in a saucer.

If you have a lawn, you’re helping our hedgehog friends because paving over your garden means access to fewer slugs, worms, and snails, making unturfed outdoor spaces less hospitable.

However, if you have paved your garden or would like to offer the hedgehogs some much-needed extra nourishment, the Wildlife Trust suggests laying out some plain kitten biscuits or wet, meat-based cat/dog food. 

You can buy specially manufactured hedgehog food, but the Wildlife Trust suggests that the quality varies wildly because it’s unregulated, unlike commercial pet foods. 

Do hedgehogs eat fruit?

A hedgehog eating an apple!

The quick answer is yes — but they’re treats rather than typical diet fodder because of the high sugar content of some fruits, such as grapes and raisins. 

Hedgehogs are known to eat:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Melon
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh green beans
  • Cooked squash

What should hedgehogs never eat?

Never feed hedgehogs bread or milk — bread lacks nutrition, and milk can give them diarrhoea, which can kill them if left untreated. 

You can leave water in bowls for your hedgehogs, as they’ll enjoy a daily drink. And remove uneaten food to prevent problems with vermin. 

Can I pick up or pet a hedgehog?

It’s never a particularly good idea to pick up a hedgehog because they’re covered in sharp spines. Avoid stressing your spiky visitors – we recommend letting them roam freely. 

However, if you think the hedgehog needs help, contact your local Hedgehog Rescue Centre via The British Hedgehog Preservation Society. They’re trained to handle hedgehogs in a way that keeps them safe — so we’d recommend leaving it to the experts. 

Keep your garden clear of hazards for hedgehogs

A cute hedgehog sheltering in an upturned plant pot.

If you use netting to protect your plants, attach them as tightly as possible to prevent hedgehogs and other wildlife from getting tangled.

Clear away litter, such as cups and cans, which pose a trapping threat to hedgehogs. 

And add a barrier around your pond to prevent hedgehogs from falling in and drowning. 

Any questions?

I hope we’ve answered all your questions about hedgehogs and how to keep them safe in our gardens. But if you have any queries, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Or explore our comprehensive Help & Advice section for expert tips and garden hacks. 

Thanks for reading!  

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