The hedgehog is back. All prickly bristles and soft button nose, she trundles through the flower beds rooting out slugs and bugs. She also likes the odd hand full of cat biscuits and I have found her blinking in the lights under the bird feeder enjoying a few discarded seeds. I love her muscular wriggle and the low tank of her little body pushing through the long grass and waving the flower stalks as she trundles on by. Hedgehogs have an excellent sense of smell, but tiny eyes and so if the wind is in the right direction and I move slowly, I can get very close to her before she gets a whiff of me and shoots off with surprising speed.
Hedgehogs need to be able to roam over quite a large area to find food and I am sure my hedgehog visits many gardens in one evening and this is their problem. Many gardens have fences and wire enclosures set in concrete all around them and no gap at all for a prickly slug killer like the hedgehog to squeeze through and without this freedom to roam they starve.
A few years ago my neighbor filled in a perfect gap under the fence. For two years we had no hedgehogs, so I did a little digging of my own and opened up the gap and now she is back!
We all need to mind the gap in our gardens and remember to leave a space for wildlife to get in and out and leave “untidy” corners with weeds and leaves, where bugs will be found and hibernation and nest sites will be made by these useful, delightful nighttime visitors.
(Photo from Hedgehog conservation soc who are encouraging people in the UK to make whole hedgehog streets, where hogs can wander from one garden to another in safety.)