This is one of the most common enquiries we receive, often associated with some mention of needing some help with controlling slugs in the garden.

 

First of all it’s worth noting that hedgehogs don’t actually do a great deal to control slugs. Some estimates suggest that slugs make up as little as 5% of their diet. So if your main motivation for introducing a hedgehog to your garden is slug control, you’re likely to be disappointed unfortunately.

 

The second important thing to note is that if you do not already have hedgehogs visiting your garden then there is probably a good reason why. Possible explanations include

  • there isn’t good access for them (do make sure there is a 5 inch gap under your fence so that they can get through)

  • yours or surrounding gardens are just too tidy for hedgehogs (they are called “hedge” hogs for a reason and like areas with plenty of low growing shrubs for cover

  • there is a large badger population in the area which has predated on the hedgehogs

  • you or your neighbours are using slug pellets or other chemicals in the garden which are very harmful to hedgehogs

That said, hedgehog rescues are very much in need of gardens which might be suitable for hedgehogs to be released into or to live in permanently if they are disabled. But you/your garden will need to meet very particular requirements.

 

Release sites

 

If you already have a population of hedgehogs visiting your garden then you may be able to help with providing a release site. You will likely be asked to

  • care for the hedgehog in a rabbit run for approximately two weeks while it acclimatises to the area

  • provide food and support for the hedgehog while it settles in to its new territory

  • undertake not to use any chemicals in your garden

  • keep any resident dogs under control so they cannot worry or harm the hedgehogs

  • ensure the garden is safe for the hedgehog and doesn’t contain litter, mesh, wire, netting etc and that ponds/swimming pools are covered or escape ramps provided.

 

In addition, rescues are unlikely to release hedgehogs into gardens with visiting badgers or which are on busy roads.

 

Permanent homes

 

Rescues sometimes have disabled hedgehogs, for example those who are missing a leg, or are blind. These hedgehogs are vulnerable in the wild so some rescues look for enclosed gardens where they can live semi-wild. To help in this way you will need to

  • have a garden totally enclosed by a wall or fence which is sunken into the ground

  • provide food for the hedgehog on a daily basis

  • catch the hedgehog regularly to check for health issues and monitor its weight

  • make provision for the care of the hedgehog if you go on holiday

  • undertake not to use any chemicals in your garden

  • keep any resident dogs under control so they cannot worry or harm the hedgehogs

  • ensure the garden is safe for the hedgehog and doesn’t contain litter, mesh, wire, netting etc. A garden with a pond is unlikely to be a suitable home for a disabled hedgehog.

 

If you meet the criteria for either type of garden then do please get in touch with your local hedgehog rescuer to offer your help.   You can search for your local hedgehog rescue by putting your location into our map at helpwildlife.co.uk/map.