September sees the close of the season for many construction related ecology surveys. Of course, this means some planning applications cannot be submitted until next year if they have been delayed. At the same time lots of our local wildlife is preparing for the colder months and we can all help by making our gardens wildlife friendly. One thing the RRA folk will be doing is preparing our hedgehog house and positioning under a leaf pile. If we are very lucky a little hedgehog may choose us to overwinter with us.
Here’s our list of our top ten tips and our downloadable guide to building a hedgehog house:
1. Our hedgehog population is dwindling rapidly so they need lots of help. if you install a hedgehog house you might find you get a resident hedgehog or even a family. If you want to feed them use cat or dog biscuits and always ensure there is fresh water for them. Needless to say, if you are encouraging hedgehogs – don’t use slug pellets or poisons of any kind.
2. Create wildlife highways by making sure there are gaps in your fence for hedgehogs and frogs to get through.
3. Do rake the leaves off your lawn, but instead of throwing them in the bin, build a leaf pile in a corner of your garden as a refuge for lots of little animals. Even better make a log pile too.
4. Keep a compost heap – great for the garden, great for not wasting vegetable peelings and great for hibernating animals like Queen Bees. If you have a compost heap avoid disturbing it between September and April when the animals are hibernating.
5. Provide a variety of smalls shelters for insects and animals too – flower pots on their sides filled with twigs, bird houses and bat houses, are all ideal. Remember to position these out of strong winds.
6. Leave the seedheads on the flowers to provide an energy rich snack for birds in the cold weather. Encourage more feathered visitors by putting out fat-balls too.
7. Provide fresh water, especially when the weather turns icy as many animals suffer when the ponds freeze over.
8. Keep your bird feeders and water baths clean to prevent disease. The RSPB recommends washing them with a 5% disinfectant solution regularly.
9. Frozen ponds are not just a problem for animals wanting to drink, decaying plant materials release poisonous gas and the ice prevents this escaping which can be fatal for animals in the pond.
If you have a pond floating a tennis ball or similar helps keep the surface moving and stop it freezing.
10. Above all – throw away the pesticides and pellets, we need to nurture our nature.
One final note, healthy hedgehogs are usually only active at night. If you see a hedgehog out in the daylight it is probably not well, do rescue it and contact your local wildlife centre for help.