Lockdown has had a surprising effect on people here in Dorset, with most finding a new found interest and delight in the wildlife living in their garden. Hedgehogs have become a firm favourite with more people trying to attract these prickly friends into their gardens.
There is nothing like the sight of a hedgehog bumbling around the garden at night. It is worth remembering that they are mainly nocturnal, so if you see a hedgehog sitting sunbathing or huddled under a bush not moving much or even running around in a frenzy, it is probably in need of help. This month we may see the first pregnant females out and about during the day foraging for food before they give birth. The difference being that the female will be looking for food whereas the poorly hog will be hunched and not moving or madly running around. That is the time to call a rescue for help.
The gestation period is around 30 days, they give birth to between 1 and 5 babies. Having ready food in your garden will encourage hedgehogs to stay for a while. Leaving fresh water and feeding dry cat biscuits or wet cat food in jelly is always a welcome treat especially when natural food is scarce, in dry or freezing weather.
We have released 47 hedgehogs so far this spring and have a few more to leave us yet. It is such a wonderful sight to see a hedgehog that has been sick or injured being released back into the wild. A heart sing moment.
Giving timely and appropriate intervention can be life saving so please do not be tempted to pick up a hedgehog and keep it in your shed or garage to let it get better on its own because it will not. They will need fluids for dehydration and possibly treatment and warmth to assist recovery. Your local vet or rescue are always there to give advice or assistance.
The use of Strimmers in our gardens are such a hazard for hedgehogs. Their nests can, to the casual observer, look just like a lump of grasses. The wounds inflicted can be devastating and life changing for the unsuspecting hedgehog, who is sleeping the day away. Please check those wild areas of your garden before using heavy gardening equipment. It could save a life.