When I moved to Aylesham five years ago, I was surprised and immensely pleased with the fact that the village had a thriving, hedgehog population.
I had only moved down the road from the outskirts of Canterbury, but can’t say that I had seen one there for at least ten years, maybe even fifteen.
What sold me on the idea of making a home for hogs in my garden was when I saw one make its way under the Wendy house that had been left in the garden.
I realised that I didn’t really have a plan for my garden yet, but actually the hedgehogs already did.
To them it was home, a safe space and going by the size of the slugs, a gourmet buffet.
So, if I was going to scrap the Wendy house, then I owed them a replacement and so that’s exactly where I started.
This was, and is not, an overnight project by any means, more of a gradual investment in my garden and their future. It also gives me something nice to look at and is great for our mental health, and sense of wellbeing.
Hedgehogs are now classed as Vulnerable to Extinction and are a Protected Species here in the UK – so what can we do to help?
l If you have a garden, one of the easiest things to do is just put out a low dish or plate of water and a little food. A bit of either dry hedgehog biscuits or wet dog/cat food.
“Don’t put milk out though as it can make hogs incredibly sick and even lead to death in some cases.”
Simple really, isn’t it?
l If you have space introduce a log pile for insects, this will not only add to your biodiversity, but makes things more interesting for hogs as they’re insectivores.
l Adding plants helps with this too, slugs love my foxgloves and in turn are loved by hogs.
l How about a compost heap? Last year mine housed four different hogs at several different levels, like a mini hog hotel.
l Make sure that the hogs have access to your garden, either by having space under a gate to get in – a bunched fist isn’t a bad measure – or a hole in the fence about the size of a CD.
l You could even make or buy a hedgehog house for your space and fill it with shredded paper and straw.
l With autumn upon us and bonfire night coming up, make sure to check any bonfires you make for hedgehogs before lighting them or only build them the day they’re to be lit.
l Finally, drive carefully at dusk. Hogs have a good turn of speed and one on the pavement can quickly become one under the wheel.
Well, I hope this helps in some small way starts a spark to get hogs regularly into your own gardens.
We’re very lucky here with our local population of original spikey residents and long may that continue.
David Britnell, Aylesham Hub