Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Do hedgehogs visit your garden?

Have you ever wondered if hedgehogs visit your garden? Would you like to see them? A quite wander around your garden just as it starts to get dark at this time of year will give you just enough light to perhaps see them with nose on the ground searching for tasty bites.



A still night would be best. Put quiet shoes on and stand near one of your borders. Watch the plants for signs of leaves moving and listen for any rustling of something moving about beneath them. You could walk around and listen for other noises too.

A huge signal for more than one hedgehog visiting your garden is a fairly loud snuffling sound. I have never recorded this yet but I do know someone who has. See the sound accompanying this hedgehog video by Midmarsh John. I’d love to capture this with the little dance the hedgehogs do during it too. I’m not asking for much then? I have watched this a few times and it is really quite fascinating.

There is one thing, costing absolutely nothing, which could encourage any passing hedgehogs to return to your garden. You could put out a dish of water. They will appreciate a drink as they pass by. If you keep it regularly topped up especially during dry spells of weather and they find it they are very likely to return.


Another thing which costs nothing extra (if you feed birds already) will be the food that is dropped to the ground especially after greedy Starlings have attacked your feeders spilling it out all over the place. Below bird feeders would be another place I’d look on a quiet night. I believe that is how my visits started.

Since then, I have experimented with a number of feeding stations (from my very first one back in 2007) which have all had success. The key would be to always have a supply of food and water in the same place as they appear to be creatures of habit following the same routes.

Following edges is something I have noticed my hedgehog visitors do many times in my garden. Side of house walls, fences and along the bottom of hedges and lawn edges – especially any little hedgehog wide strips as you can see above. This is a popular spot and with their colouring they are pretty camouflaged there too. I wonder if they know this.


Just a warning though, don’t be tempted to put out milk for hedgehogs thinking it would be a treat instead of water. Cow’s milk can give hedgehogs very bad diarrhoea. Bread too is another ‘no’ as they cannot digest it. Hedgehogs can die through this as a diet.

In my garden I have found that dried sultanas or mixed fruit is a huge hit as are peanuts especially if they are crushed. Crushed is best for any young hogs that may pass through. They also munch their way quite happily through sunflower hearts too.

I don’t put out cat food but understand they love that. I’ve also heard that they love dried dog food too. There are many brands of special hedgehog mixes available in Pet stores and Supermarkets but I even when there are no sultanas in my garden to accompany this they have never eaten the hedgehog mixes. I no longer try new ones as I know and they know what they come to my garden for! They perhaps take hedgehog mixes in other gardens.

I have always associated hedgehogs visiting from late August into December, just before they go into hibernation, and have never set up feeding stations at this time of year. I will do from now on. Until now, I never saw them as a subject for Spring watching.


I missed Thursday’s BBC Springwatch programme and haven't watched last night's recording so don’t know if they included any mention of hedgehogs. However, it would be a good idea if they did suggest to viewers to put water out in the evenings for them. It would be nice to raise the profile of this species of wildlife on this programme as we can take small steps to help it survive when numbers are causing concerns.

Last night, I spotted what looked like a different hedgehog visiting. It was on the small side and had quite a large collar without needless around its face – don’t know the proper name for that part. I dashed in for my camera but… no charge on battery. A quick, quiet run back inside for the video camera (phew… it had charge this time) and I’m so glad it did.

I had already written and uploaded my photos for this posting during yesterday but still had a few bits I wanted to add and ran out of time to publish it last night. As it happens that was very fortunate. The video I captured last night fully supports the content of this posting! It’s almost like it was written for this action. You never know what you’ll get when you start recording these wonderful wild animals. Sometimes they just scoff, scoff and then run off!

Roll the camera… I’ll not say too much except that my heart was in my mouth when it decided to consider the rock face down to the water in my pond.



Did you spot the hedgehog walking straight past the full dish of water? This hedgehog probably never considered to look for water there. As I said earlier, hedgehogs do seem to follow the same routes and only explore a little more around it.

It clearly knew there was water down the rocks though (so glad it didn’t fall in) but the interesting thing here is that my pump has been off for the last few nights so there was not a sound in this area to suggest water. So, this hedgehog can’t be a new visitor. I noticed it had a mark on its back so I should recognise it again. I really like to see the smaller ones get food and water.

The disappearing act between the grasses was very impressive don't you think. The young hedgehog clearly knew there was a dish of water in there. Oops… but what did it find? As I said earlier in this posting if you do put out water (or food) in the same area keep it filled up regularly. We’ve not had a lot of rain recently and with all the plants around this tray I hadn’t noticed that the tray was almost dry. I remedied that shortly after the hedgehog left.

Did you spot its freefall down the edge and on to the grass? This is not the first time I have seen this. Having seen it from the other side they almost just let themselves go and tumble down. They don’t try to walk it at all. They really are such entertaining animals to watch.

Perhaps you’ve already seen hedgehogs in your garden and would like to share your stories via my comments on this posting. We’d all like to hear about them. Ah… but wait a minute… the power of the internet… I’ve just read on Midmarsh John’s blog that the RSPB are interested in hearing about these visitors too!

Yesterday, they launched their first Summer garden wildlife survey. I didn’t know about that. Thanks for that John, I’ll help pass the word too. The RSPB say on their website:

“Running from 8-14 June, it is the first time the charity has asked people to count the wildlife in their gardens over the summer. We hope Make your nature count will build a picture of the wildlife visiting gardens and define how important gardens are for some of our breeding birds and summer migrants.”

“It’s not only birds people are being asked to record. We also want to know about some of the other wildlife visiting gardens, like frogs, toads, squirrels and even badgers. At this time of year, gardens are alive with young birds and we are asking people to record blackbird, robin and song thrush chicks. Song thrush numbers have declined by 50% since the 1970’s but in recent years have started to make a bit of a recovery. Counting young birds will help give an indication of how successfully they are breeding across the UK. “


I like the line on their logo for this: “Love nature? Then tell us what crawls, hops, flutters and flies in you garden” This sounds like fun. I assume they are including night visitors like bats and owls too as well as the star of this posting – the hedgehogs. Night time is a good time to spot frogs and toads too! Yes… they are interested in all nature that visits your garden whatever time it visits.

If you want to take part you can submit your results online. You might just be amazed at what does visit your garden at this time of year too. Pre blog, I had no idea my garden had so many visitors during the day far less at night. I am always thrilled to see more arrive too - although a few less Starlings would be okay! Perhaps I should make myself a sheet on what visitors I'd expect to be seeing now and take it from there! I wonder if there will be any surprise entries. Hope you are able to enjoy your wildlife visitors now too :-)

Update a few hours later! Wow... this is the first ever daytime visit I have seen of a hedgehog at 2.30pm in the afternoon. It looks like that perhaps it's the one in the video above. Yep... if I hadn't been looking out the window at that exact time I would have missed this. What a treat... I think. Hope its okay :-)



The firt photos above were taken in my garden on June 6th & 7th 2009. The daytime hedgehog photos were taken at 2.30pm today. The video above was taken in my garden on June 8th 2009.

25 comments:

G L Wilson said...

Hi Shirl. What lovely hedgehog photos (you know I always like hog pictures) - they look almost as if they were taken in daylight.

I hear what you say about the hogs being creatures of habit and not finding food if it's not quite in its usual place. I've tried putting food on the lawn instead of on the patio and hogs have scurried straight past it.

I think it also took a few days to get them used to the idea of going inside the feeding station for food too. Some of them took to it immediately and others were outside looking confused as if to say "I know there's food around here somewhere".

Oh, and some good news re Springwatch - at last they have put one of my hog videos up on their website. It's only a short clip, but they seem to be rejecting "compilation" movies.

shirl said...

Hi again GL :-)

Thanks, I was pleased with the photos. They were all taken at just around 9.40pm. It was a fairy bright night :-)

Yes, delighted to hear someone else confirming my observations of hedgehog visits to the garden. You almost feel like the audience to a Pantomime when they walk by food (or water) wanting to shout “Look behind you” or “It’s over there” :-D

Yes, you need to bribe the first ones in the feeding station don’t you? Great news on your video submission. I’ll have to take a look :-D

ShySongbird said...

A lovely post Shirl, and very informative too. I loved the video and the photos. I haven't seen or heard any Hedgehogs yet this year, but we do usually get them in our garden, although as you alluded to I usually see them more around high Summer. Oh yes, Louis thinks it would be wonderful of me to put a bowl of dried dog food down for them and says he would be quite willing for them to try cat food as well! he says he even enjoys the water I leave for them ;)

I have been in the garden the last few nights in the pouring rain collecting armies of snails by torchlight and taking them in a bucket away from the house (well HLH did the dumping bit!). They are devouring my new plants and I am reluctant to use chemicals for obvious reasons, I have seen some frogs but I think I need an army of them and another army of hogs to cope with the huge amount of snails, some birds on night shift would be a help too!!

I'm glad you mentioned bread and milk is harmful, many people used to think that was the correct food, good too that you mentioned crushed peanuts as well so that any left over whole ones are not fed to baby birds who of course could choke on them.

Enjoy the rest of the week and have a great weekend. :)

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Hi Shirl!

There are several hedgehogs in my garden and I hear them make those weird noises from time to time. Did you know that they also eat dry cat food? I caught one red snouted the other day, munching from the dry food I'd put out for Jeeves.

And not to wory in case they fall in the pond, they can swim. The only thing you have to watch out for is not making the edges of the pond to steep so they can crawl out again. Many a hedgehog has drowned in a swimmingpool because it couldn't get out.

Great pics of cute hedgies!

Midmarsh John said...

A brilliant informative read, Shirl. Love the photos of your hogs and then to have it topped off with that great piece of colour video. Perfect. I have just been improving the lighting where mine feed to get some colour video.

Thanks for the mentions, much appreciated.

I tried tinned cat food with my hogs but they ignored that but they do love the dried mealworms and crushed peanuts with the occasional Sunflower heart and, of course, a bowl of fresh water.

My hogs started their regular visits under the bird feeders where there is usually some fall out from the greedy Starlings.

Joe said...

Hi Shirl,

Fantastic posting on the hogs. Not sure if we have them in our garden but I will use your tips to try and find them anyway.

I loved that video, the hedgehog was so clumsy when it toppled down that little slope.

Great to see that you saw one in the middle of the day, and not even close to being dark. Great photos too, its very rare to see such clear shots as you have got.

I'll be looking forward to any hoggy updates. Don't know about you, but our garden is literally full with birds at the moment. Just saw a group of at least 7 Greenfinches as well as around 8 House Sparrows and a Blue Tit family, which I'll post on a little later.

Thanks for sharing :)

Little Brown Job said...

Lovely images Shirl and the video is great.

We have seen a Hedgehog in the garden a few times but not seen one for some time, will have to go creeping about in the dark to see if they are still about.

Cheryl said...

Beautiful post on one of our most loved wild creatures. I do get them in the garden and have heard their snuffles whilst lying in bed at night. Sadly I see most of them on the lane that runs by my house. The fatalities have been huge this year.....

I always leave water out for them and in the same place....that was more by luck, I did not realise they take the same pathway each evening....

I have read that sometimes when a hedgehog is out in the day, it may be ill. I don't know how true that is...

A lovely post on a delightful animal.....

G L Wilson said...

Shirl,

Your hedgehogs are early birds compared to mine. I'd be lucky to see one before 10:00pm if not later here. They really don't like to come out until it's properly dark.

Judging by their behaviour last year, I'd expect as Spring turns to Summer and the evenings get lighter and lighter the hedgehogs are going to start coming out earlier and earlier as they get used to the idea of it being lighter.

At around the height of summer last year sometimes I'd even see the hedgehogs in the garden as I was putting my bike away having just got home from work. This would have been before 6:30pm.

I'm looking forward to getting some daylight photos and perhaps some colour movies of the hogs as the year progresses.

Roses and stuff said...

I don't think hedgehogs visit my garden, I'm sorry to say. On the other hand, I haven't tried putting out food and water. Maybe I should give it a go...
-Great shots!
Katarina

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

Shirl - What a lovely treat - I adore hedgehogs and lovely to see yours. Great video. I don't have them here in the garden, and don't do anything to encourage them - in my last house they drove the dog into a frenzy of barking - he could not work them out at all
K

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Hi Shirl, I just love your hedgehog reports. I don't ever get to see them because they aren't naturally here. There is a large contingent of people that keep them for pets in the US. As a matter of fact I was just reading the National Audubon magazine last night when I came upon a book review that reminded me of you. the book was written by Hugh Warwick _The Hedgehog's Dilemma_. Have you heard of this book? It sounds like I would enjoy reading it. Maybe you would too.

Sarah: wife, mother, beekeeper said...

Wow! Hedgehogs?! We have skunks, racoons, deer, bear, fox, and have had one moose. No hedgehogs. Very neat photos.
Hello from Montana.

Julia said...

We don't have hedgehogs in my country; a national disgrace, I tell you! They are very cute and look a bit wobbly, like little drunken sailors in the garden.

Julia / Canada

G L Wilson said...

Yeah they look cute, but wait until you see them crashing into one another like bulldozers!

I still love them though.

shirl said...

Hi again Jan, Yolanda, John and Joe :-)

Jan – Thank-you, glad you enjoyed it. LOL… yes pets and wildlife can perhaps find a way to share? Oh my… yes the armies of snails… collecting them is a job I do avoid… but I don’t have many young plants out in my garden at the moment. Yes, I avoid chemicals in my borders and lawn too. We would actually welcome the rain for a few days as our lawn and borders (even in my shady back garden) are pretty hard and dry. We’ve had odd showers that are keeping things replenished plants a little! Thank-you, it has been a busy week as usual and looking forward to the weekend – hoping to get the hedgehog house into the garden sometime. Wishing you a great weekend too :-D

Yolanda – Hello there… I see you’ve been over the sea once again :-) A Sissinghurst visit and a new camera too!! Ah yes… I remember you mentioning getting hog visits too. Hope Jeeves didn’t spot the thief... yes I did know that they liked cat food but I have avoided using it as I don’t want to attract any more cats that could harm the birds. I caught one cat stalking a small hedgehog the other night. Interesting to hear they can swim. Yes, with all ponds it’s probably best to include a ledge or something for wildlife to get out of the water. Swimming pools are not a problem here but I guess you would be right there. Poor hogs :-( Thanks… I’ve captured just a few more photos since. They really have caught my imagination seeing visits at this time of year :-D

John – Thank-you, yes it was great to capture a colour video. Perhaps I’ll look into another upload source as blip cuts out frames on compression and you don’t get accurate images of the way a hedgehog moves. Need more time on that. I am only to happy to include links in postings like this – both for readers that are reading my posting and for others that have just wandered by. Raising the profile of these wonderful animals that we can help in small ways is all to the good. Yes, I really am guessing that they get used to a particular food source in a particular garden and don’t always take extra offerings we put out. Yes, underneath a bird feeder has to be the place to watch for hedgehog visits. Happy hog watching this weekend :-D

Joe – Thanks, it would be wonderful if you discovered them with you. By your location, next to a railways line, I’d expect some must be wandering around somewhere nearby. LOL… yes, they really are funny to watch as they negotiate the landscape of the garden ;-) Ah… more on the day visits soon. Thank-you, I can’t believe the clear views I’ve had of a couple of younger hedgehogs this week. Updates soon… Oh yes… my garden would be even fuller with birds too if I got out and topped up the feeders – they, like the bird baths have run dry. We could do with a little rain here… oops better be careful what I wish for :-D

shirl said...

Hi again Paul, Cheryl & GL :-)

Paul – Thank-you, I see you’ve been busy with a new bird feeding area in your garden and now have a hide to view the birds too! Excellent, will look forward to lots more images from your garden. I agree, a tree would help the birds come to your feeders. I originally had one in a large pot which gave a bit more height too. Ah… perhaps hedgehogs will discover your new feeding area via the seed dropped below. Perhaps some shrubs around the edges will get them exploring there. I’d guess if you’ve seen them visit before something in your garden must have brought them in. Perhaps if you added a ground bird bath/ saucer of water near your bird feeders that might help attract them too. Will look forward to hearing of any sightings you do get :-D

Cheryl – Thank-you, and especially once seen this wildlife animal will always be a favourite from then on in :-D You do have so many wonderful, wild and ground cover, areas that would attract hedgehogs to your garden so I would be surprised if you didn’t get hedgehog visits… oh sorry to hear you also see fatalities too. That must upset you. Yes, I had heard the same about daytime visits by hedgehogs for later on in the year but didn’t know what the story was with them visiting now. I have a follow up story to come on this. I was a little concerned too. Thank-you, I agree this is an absolutely delightful animal :-D

GL – Oh yes… they really are early birds… more to come soon when I’ve time to post :-) Interesting, I am completely new to visits at this time of year so haven’t known what to expect… the unexpected I’m guessing! Can’t wait until my daughter’s hedgehog house gets completed and I get it out into the garden. For all the years I have gardened in the late summer’s evenings I have never considered I had other company apart from the midge and bats! Looking forward to seeing how my summer visits unfold over the next couple of months. Yes, me too. Nice pic on your recent posting. I got one similar last night and its on my mobile photos as a wallpaper today :-D

shirl said...

Hi there Katarina, Karen, Lisa, Sarah, Julia and GL :-)

Katarina – Ah… maybe worth a shot. You never know they may just turn up! Thanks, I am really enjoying trying to capture photos especially to see how many may pass through :-D

Karen – Nice to see you, hope you are well. Thanks, it really is a treat to have hedgehogs visit and I am delighted to be able to share these visits :-D Yes, I do believe they can cause dogs to bark. Cats, I’ve seen stalk them :-o

Lisa – I am particularly delighted to share my hedgehog visits with you. Yes, on looking up websites for info, I have spotted many sites that sell hedgehogs for pets in the US. I suppose if the animals have only ever known captivity then they would adapt. In the wild they have fleas and can also have ticks. I expect ones kept as pets may get fleas too although maybe vets/pet shops sell treatments for this. No, I haven’t heard of this book… just looked it up. It might be an interesting one as you say. I’ll look out for it now – thanks for that :-D

Sarah – Wow… yes it appears Montana gardens almost have zoos ;-) Don’t know if I’d be out in the evening garden watching where you are. Mm… I definitely need more outside cameras! Thanks, I am really enjoying capturing images of this wonderful wild creature that’s on our endangered list here in the UK. Thanks for dropping by and a big smiling hello from Scotland :-D

Julia – Ah… I see, like in the US, they are not native to Canada but they are kept as pets. I’ve just done a quick search and see that people are strongly advised that if they do have a hedgehog as a pet that they should not release it into the wild if they no longer want to keep it. As it is not native it will die outside. There are welfare organisations that will be happy to take and re-home any unwanted pet hedgehogs. Thank-you, this is what’s fascinating about blogs where wildlife has people talking about it across the world. You also discover other lives of the same animal. We have guinea pigs as pets here in the UK but they survive out in the wild in countries such as Brazil and Peru. People there must think them strange to be kept as pets just the same way as people in the UK and Europe may see it strange for hedgehogs to be kept as pets. LOL… I love your description of the drunken sailors. Some can look like that but others look like Olympic athletes as they run off at speed!

GL – LOL… yep…and you have the video footage to show that too. Yours could enter the London Olympics in one of the contact sports events! They really are quite interesting characters here out in the wild and we are very lucky to be seeing them :-D

Terry said...

Hi
Today was my first visit to your blog.
I have had a wonderful time.
Thank you for the wonderful and informative hedgehog photos.
Have a delightful weekend.
Happy Trails

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Shirl - I've been meaning to leave a message on your blog all week since I saw your lovely posting on Hedgehogs and only this evening did I spot one of the first hogs in our woodland that I've seen in ages - just at the edge of the grass... was so exciting as we used to see them nearly every evening when we first arrived... maybe they'll start to come back - do hope so!

Some great info on your posting - epspecially on food - one thing I gleaned from TiggyWinkles when we were looking after a sick hog recently is that cat food is great or kitten food but as long as it doesn't contain any fish as they can't digest it.

Hope all's well with you - some great news on the birds by the way - see my latest posting!

Hope you're having a good weekend Miranda x

Re said...

My son was only bemoaning the fact that we don't get hedgehogs in the garden the other day. Too be honest I'm not sure if we do or don't, I know they are in the area but wonder if they avoid our garden due to the cats.

shirl said...

Welcome Terry and Re, sorry these replies have taken so long :-)

Terry – I am delighted you enjoyed your first visit. The hedgehogs are an absolutely delightful subject to blog about! Many thanks, we did and here’s wishing you a good weekend now too :-D

Re – Well, I’ll be honest if it wasn’t for being out in the evenings a couple of years feeding my daughter’s guinea pigs I probably would never have known they were visiting my garden. I have watched my garden in the evening using my night cams and have spotted neighbours cats pass through when the hogs are about and it doesn’t seem to bother them. Scrolling down a couple of back postings you’ll see I captured this cat pond watching (for mice I’d guess) while the hedgehog ate… and ate… and another way to tell if they pass through is by what they pass through! Just to say I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to your blog – great flower pics but I loved the dad blackbird feeding its young. Have a great weekend :-D

shirl said...

Hi again Miranda… just where does the time go :-)

I completely understand not having time to leave messages on blogs… I’m not even getting round to reading any at the moment either and it’s been a while since my last posting too! Ah… we’ve light rain today so its time to catch up with jobs indoors now…. Mm now should it be the housework or the blog? Ah… a difficult one… and then there’s Andy Murray playing tennis again today too… decisions decisions!!

Great to hear you’ve spotted hedgehogs in your woodland again, I remember you mentioning them last year. Thanks for passing that on the info about the cat food with fish in it not being good for hogs. I had heard that ones with chicken were good but hadn’t heard that fish was bad.

Yes, all’s well here thanks, with lots of visitors to the garden. My daughter is keen on us opening the garden (as we did a couple of times a few years ago) to get a few more too! We did enjoy that when the whole town took part but our location isn’t ideal for parking as we are tucked away and on the outskirts of town so our visitor numbers were minimal. It was good fun though.

Absolutely thrilled to hear that it looks like all is well with your swallow nest now! Phew… you must be relieved. Hope you get sighting of the young at some point :-D

Thanks, yes a catch up weekend will be good. Have a great weekend yourself :-D

Anonymous said...

I have a hedgehog in the garden, it must be sleeping or something, how safe is it to come near?

angelroses t said...

hi just found your site...last nite I went in the garden at 11pm..
I saw an hedgehog on the grass...first time I have ever seen one in real life....I read your blog...and I always have a bowl of cold water outside and bakers dodfood,what my dog has left from that day....so I topped the water up..put an handful of dog mix out...the hedgehog...did go on a route round my garden,it was good to watch....
I do have bird feeders out and get many birds in my garden....
maybe the hedgehog has been coming in the garden for a long time,and ihave never noticed....now I will check at nite...yerrrr proper made up...hehehe....oh and it did drink the water and eat the food I put out....so love animals....kath...