Monty Don follows hedgehog along his garden path
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Hedgehogs are widespread throughout England and Wales. They prey on invertebrates and are known to eat amphibians, small rodents and birds. They eat several pest species which makes them popular with British gardeners. It is thought 30 percent of the British hedgehog population was lost between 2002 and 2013 which means a helping hand from Britons could be very helpful.
Hedgehogs are one of Britain’s most loved garden mammals.
They are seldom seen during the day, their nocturnal wanderings take them through several gardens during the evening.
They tend to feed on a variety of invertebrates such as snails, slugs, beetles, caterpillars and worms.
But you can also leave them a little food and water to supplement their diet as well.
When to feed hedgehogs
Often hedgehogs can find food for themselves, but in some seasons it is more difficult for them.
In autumn, the breeding season for hedgehogs comes to an end and the young leave their mothers in search of independence.
For these creatures, their first time in the wild can be a daunting experience and the autumn and winter months can see their food supply dwindle.
If they lack food to such a degree, their lives can be at risk.
Therefore, it is advisable for you to provide them with some supplementary food and drink.
It is also helpful to provide hedgehogs with water during periods of drought as they may struggle to find enough to quench their thirst.
When putting out water make sure to always use fresh water in a shallow bowl to prevent any illness or accident for these creatures.
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What not to feed hedgehogs
You should never feed hedgehogs milk or bread.
Hedgehogs cannot digest them as it upsets their stomachs.
A particular favourite of hedgehogs is complete cat biscuits or meaty cat or dog food – tinned food is also acceptable.
You can also buy specialist hedge food from wildlife food suppliers.
Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant so you should also avoid any other dairy-based products.
It is also believed pumpkin is bad for hedgehogs as it has a laxative effect.
Pumpkin can cause hedgehogs to become severely dehydrated at a time when they are striving to gain as much weight as possible.
It is best to therefore avoid leaving this autumnal vegetable out for them at Halloween.
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