Hibernating hedgehogs need help

Emma Danielsson with a hedgehog house

Residents and businesses across East Cambridgeshire are being asked to help out with hibernating hedgehogs.

Hedgehog numbers across the East of England are declining rapidly and they particularly need help this time of year as they prepare to hibernate during the winter months.

Depending on the weather and their body condition, they go into hibernation from October or November until March or April.

In a public vote, hedgehogs have been chosen as the endangered animal residents would most like East Cambridgeshire District Council to support over the coming year.

As part of this campaign, the council is working with Hedgehog Street to raise awareness of what people can do to help hedgehogs safely through the winter months.

Top tips include:

Provide access to your garden

One of the main reasons hedgehogs are struggling in Britain is because our fences and walls are becoming more and more secure, reducing the amount of land available to them.

Have a look around your garden and see if it can be accessed by a hedgehog.

They typically need a 13cm by 13cm hole, which can be cut into a fence to create access.

You can read more about creating a DIY hedgehog highway on Hedgehog Street’s website (external link)

Access to food and water

Hedgehogs must feed intensively and be in great condition before hibernating if they are to have enough reserves to last the winter.

Hedgehogs eat a wide variety of insects and other invertebrates including beetles, earthworms and caterpillars. The best way to support a hedgehog is to leave areas of your garden undisturbed. Alternatively, you can leave out cat or dog food or specialist hedgehog food. A shallow dish of water can also be provided.

Please do not give hedgehogs milk as they are lactose intolerant.

Create a hedgehog home

Log and leaf piles, wilderness areas, simple shelters, like this one on You Tube (external link) and purpose-built hedgehog homes (external link) such as the one on Hedgehog Street (external link) make great places for hedgehogs to nest and hibernate. Fallen leaves also make the perfect nesting material, so make sure you do not clear all of these away.

Remember, without access into your garden (external link), a hedgehog will not use your hedgehog home, no matter how lovely it is.

Check bonfires before lighting

It is coming up to Fireworks Night on November 5. Remember if you are planning a bonfire please check there are no hedgehogs nesting in it before setting fire to it. More advice about bonfires is available on our website

Emma Danielsson, the council’s Climate Change and Natural Environment Officer, said: “Whether you live in a rural environment or one of our market towns, there is so much we can all do to help hedgehogs. It does not take a lot of effort, or a lot of money, but the rewards of seeing one snuffle across your lawn are priceless.”

East Cambs CAN alongside members of the climate and environment team at the council ran a successful Hedgehog café last Thursday; inviting members of the public to feed into the council’s hedgehog recovery strategy. It was a great turn out with some fantastic ideas and stories shared.

More information on East Cambridgeshire District Council's Hedgehog Campaign