Free hedgehog houses available to help boost wildlife

Residents who are keen to help boost wildlife in Bridgend County Borough are being invited to apply for a hedgehog pack.

Urban areas have become a stronghold for our prickly pals, with gardens providing a plentiful supply of food, both natural and supplementary, as well as many potential nest sites for breeding, resting and hibernation but numbers have dramatically declined in recent years.

Research suggests this is partly because it is becoming harder for hedgehogs to move freely due to an increase in the number of solid walls and fences being put up around gardens.

Thanks to Local Nature Partnership Cymru funding, Bridgend County Borough Council’s biodiversity team has 50 hedgehog packs to give out to residents to help them assist hedgehogs in their gardens.

Jess Hartley, Biodiversity Policy and Management Officer for the council, said: “These packs contain everything you need to provide a suitable home for hedgehogs, including an easy-to-assemble hedgehog house, an eco-hedgehog hole fence plate to allow the animals to access your garden, as well as a guide to helping hedgehogs and a recording sheet to note down any sightings.

“Packs will be allocated on a first come first served basis. You must live in Bridgend County Borough and your garden must meet certain criteria to enable action for hedgehogs.”

To apply for one of the packs, visit the council’s website to download an application form.

Hedgehogs are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and usually live in woodland and meadows, hedgerows and gardens.

Their diet includes insects, slugs, frogs, fish, worms, small snakes, eggs and fruit, and they hibernate between November and March.

The mammals are known for their ability to roll themselves into a ball of spines when threatened. These spines are actually modified hairs and the average hedgehog has about 7,000 of them, which can be raised using powerful muscles along their back.

Other ways to help hedgehogs in your garden:

  • Leave an area of your garden to grow ‘wild’ and don’t cut it back during winter as hedgehogs may nest there. A wild area will also provide habitat for lots of insects perfect for a hedgehog feast.
  • Hedgehogs are adept swimmers but need to be able to safely get in and out of your pond. Use stones, logs, or chicken wire as a ramp to allow hedgehogs to climb in and out.
  • Pesticides, insecticides and slug pellets are toxic to hedgehogs and also reduce their food in your garden.
  • Before you cut your grass with a strimmer or mower be sure to check there are no hedgehogs to avoid injury or death. Hedgehogs will not run away from the sound of a mower.
  • A log pile is one of the best features for a plethora of wildlife, hedgehogs included. These provide a safe, secure site for breeding or hibernating, as well as encouraging all sorts of creepy crawlies for your spiky friend to feast on! Collect any old dead wood from your garden or ask the local park or wildlife reserve for permission to take some and pile it up in a quiet corner of your garden.
  • Hedgehogs love piles of old leaves. Not only can they be used as a potential nesting site but they can also be used as bedding material. Be careful when tidying a leaf pile as there may be a ‘hog in residence!

For further information or more ways to get involved with wildlife in your area, email [email protected]. You can also find information about opportunities in your area at the council’s green project volunteering webpage.