Hedgehogs, like many wildlife species, are declining in numbers due to environmental changes in both rural and urban areas, mostly caused by humans. But you can help the urban scene by doing some simple things around your garden. Hedgehogs are good for the garden because they eat a lot of the creepy crawlies that most of us don’t like ie slugs, beetles, earwigs, worms and millipedes – to name but a few. But the hogs can’t get at them if your garden is too tidy, or they can’t move freely from one garden to the next.

Hedgehogs like to have four or five gardens to use as their wildlife corridor, so try to leave a small, six inch round hole at the bottom your fences and ask your neighbours to do the same. Also, leave an area at the back where you can throw leaves, clippings and even small logs, so that they can make a nest for rearing their young and for hibernating during the winter. They also like to crawl in to compost heaps. The offspring, called hoglets, are born in June to July and need to fatten up before hibernation starts in October to November and lasts until April. It will help them, particularly before hibernation, to leave out meaty, dog or cat food – not fish – and dried meal worms or unsalted nuts. Never give them bread or milk, as it makes them ill. Of course, don’t put out slug pellets as this will kill hedgehogs if eaten.

Finally, if you really want make your garden hedgehog friendly, make or buy a nest/hibernation box. Details of how to do this are on website www.hedgehogstreet.org, which also has loads of other information.

Gerry Sweet

Northlands, Potters Bar