Hedgehogs? Not seen in many gardens due to fencing !

October 1, 2011

in Gardening For Wildlife, Hedgehogs, Mammals

Have you seen my new Hedgehog “Watch and Feed” station? See video taken in my garden! Does it work? Beautifully! As do all of my products!  I will donate £2 donated to hedgehog trusts/societies in the UK for each box sold.

Hedgehogs in decline

Many people love hedgehogs, yet surprisingly many people I speak to have never seen a living hedgehog as it trundles along going about its business. Sadly they have seen only dead ones on roads. Indeed the number of dead “Mammals on Roads” survey, which included dead hedgehogs, has been used in the past to give us an idea as to their numbers. What is revealing to me, is that I have seen far fewer dead hedgehogs on roads over the past few years. Our hedgehogs are in massive decline. That is why many people do not even see as many dead hedgehogs in roads anymore, quite simply there are less of them to kill. It appears that my observations have also been noticed by individuals taking part in wildlife surveys such as the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden Bird Watch scheme.

Hedgehog in my garden, rolled up for protection – but no good against traffic

http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/gbw who amongst other organisations, confirm that hedgehogs are declining. Hedgehogs can roam 1-2 miles a night in search for food. What can restrict their movement to search for food is the likes of walls, fences and other difficult obstacles for them to climb. This time of the year, they will be searching for suitable places to hibernate. Twice I have been fortunate enough to attract a hedgehog to hibernate in places of my choice and designed for that very purpose, one being my garden and another on a wildlife garden I was creating. Many years ago, I remember sitting crouched up in one of the ‘little tikes’ outdoor playhouse waiting for ‘our’ hedgehog to appear and filming it as it wandered along the lawn!

Hedgehog proofed fencing-simply a hedgehog ‘no go area’

In our quests to have our garden fences looking nice and lasting longer, many of us buy our wooden panels and sit them on top of these concrete slabs. Quite simply this is a hedgehog ‘no go’ area. Recently I met an old lady who said that for many years  she put out cat food every night for ‘her’ hedgehog and every night she was happy to watch it devour this easy fast food. This year, she had not had any hedgehogs even though she continued to put out the cat food. I asked her if she had recently had her fence renewed and yes she had! Exactly as the ones I describe!

This fence backs onto a field where I have seen hedgehogs – but no way in here

Hedgehogs regularly use garden to feed. It offers them a sheltered place of safety away from cars and predatory foxes. It offers them a new foraging ground and new pickings for them to eat. They will search and visit many gardens in one night. They will consume slugs and snails which would otherwise consume your plants, flowers and vegetables. Ideally they would like to forage from one garden to the next. Fences can block their paths and can make them deviate some considerable distances to get around as they travel from one garden to another.

Nice new fence for humans – not for wildlife which it can inhibit

Hedgehog friendly gate

There is a woodland on this side of the fence. Note the large gap underneath the door. Easy for hedgehogs, newts, frogs, toads and other wildlife to find sanctuary and food in this garden.

Wildlife friendly gate

By removing barriers we can help our hedgehogs travel easier in the quest to find food, nest sites, hibernation sites and mates. This gate leads out from a garden to a cul de sac, directly from the road.

A nice hedgehog sized hole in this hedge boundary next to a road

Hedgehog friendly garden boundary

Nice gaps for hedgehogs to easily pass unhindered in and out of this garden, as long as they keep to the pavement once leaving!!

I’m sure it can’t be difficult for manufacturers of concrete panels to leave a 15cm diameter hole in the bottom of a panel? I would imagine that they pour the concrete into a mould. Surely a piece of wood or something similar could be placed in the mould, which could be easily removed leaving a wildlife friendly hole for their passage from one garden to the next?

The missing link?

If you have wooden fence cut a 15cm hole, dig a channel underneath the fence panel, wall or gate, perhaps slip a brick underneath the panel when it is first put into place or a piece of drainage pipe would make an ideal ‘tunnel’. Then you would link your garden to your neighbours for the benefit of wildlife and your enjoyment! I am working on this very subject and will write an article for this site when I have it sorted!!

Go to Hedgehog Street                  http://www.hedgehogstreet.org/

and read lots more information about hedgehogs and how to help them, become a ‘hedgehog champion’, make your fences hedgehog friendly or get a free information pack.

“All my articles and videos, available free, are funded by my  teaching and sales of award winning bumblebee nest boxessolitary bee boxes,  and wormeries. Please help by spreading the word and forwarding this link to your friends and colleagues. http://nurturing-nature.co.uk  Thank you” George Pilkington

 

 

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Baines October 4, 2011 at 9:03 am

George

I thought I would use your web site reply box to respond. The practical suggestions about hedgehog access points are perfect. I certainly think it would be worth highlighting the issue with some of the bigger garden centre chains, B&Q etc.

Chris

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Anthony Powell October 10, 2011 at 12:01 am

Other creatures are deterred by these fences too. My former neighbours wanted help when they found a frog aiming for my pond – they weren’t the sort to pick these creatures up – ugh!

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L.Hammersley October 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm

We have witnessed a hedgehog climbing up a six foot wall covered in ivy and then rolling and dropping down the otherside with no injuries. It then carried on feeding – eating fruit off my floor bird table…so if people insist on having high walls and fences, encourage them to plant them up with creepers so that hedgehogs can climb in.

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nurturingnature October 25, 2011 at 9:33 am

Wow! Hope the other side had ivy for it to climb out again or that they had another exit for it. The things they have to do to earn a meal…..hope the cost ratio benefit was to the hedgehogs advantage!!!!

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Gary Owen October 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Hedgehogs in Flitwick must have a bit of mole in them. They dug under my fence and I put food and water out for them every evening. Always a pleasure to watch them. Also have 2 boxes for them to over-winter if they so choose…and they do.

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Sue Gibson November 5, 2011 at 11:47 am

We used to have hedgehogs, and possibly still do, although I haven’t seen one for about twelve years. Unfortunately cannot feed them because local cats or squirrels would have the food, and can’t leave bird food on the ground for the same reasons. I have a large natural bit with a stack of wood, which gets shredded once a year, and then becomes a pile for toads and frogs. I have a permanent stack of wood for frogs, toads and other creepy crawlies. I We have wild bees that build nests here there and everywhere. Usually I can track their nests, but this year they have been very secretive. The garden is surrounded by hedges, but we live on a main road – have you any suggestions…I did think about offering to adopt a couple of hedgehogs, and make the garden, and that of my next door neighbour inpenetrable, although foxes do come too?

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nurturingnature November 6, 2011 at 9:23 am

Sounds like you have a really wildlife friendly garden giving you the pleasure you get from observing wildlife instead of TV!!! Hedgehogs are wild and perhaps should not be imprisoned in gardens even if they are wildlife havens? If you somehow filled/block the gaps up in your hedges that means hedgehogs/wildlife would not have access to your garden, leaving them ‘locked’ out and having to remain outside of the hedge and therefore next to the main road where the possibility always exists that they will be killed by traffic. That’s a difficult call.

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Sue Gibson November 6, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Dear Nurturingnature, Sorry I didn’t mean to exclude wildlife – far from it – but I have heard of schemes to help hedgehogs that are underweight etc., by giving them a taste of the big wide world, but safely enclosed…If just my neighbour and myself were jointly to enter into this we could provide nearly an acre of organic land, with plenty of slugs, snails and worms to mention a few of the delectables…does anyone know of a sanctury that I could contact in the Leicestershire area?

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Anthony Powell November 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Sue, could you try campaigning for a speed limit on your road? My belief is that animals evolved to escape predators, and unrestrained cars attack faster than predators. Slower driving also seems to cut fly attack on windscreens.

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nurturingnature November 6, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Ah, gone are the days when the car windscreen was literally splattered with dead flies around here now and even when I venture out into the countryside I have very few insects on the windscreen. Many people would welcome a clean windscreen on the shiny cars! Lack of flies sounds like we should be happy eh? But that means a lack of prey items for many others that eat them especially birds and bats…..

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Sue Gibson November 7, 2011 at 12:25 am

Anthony because it was a trunk road we could not have traffic calming – but the powers that be put a 30 speed limit on the road and put a flashing light to tell people they are speeding! It doesn’t work, so I spend a good part of my life campaigning for traffic calming and/or speed cameras…having said that there are rarely splattered casualties on the road, which is a bonus. I really don’t know what the answer is, but there are no owls around anymore…although we still have bats and foxes and lots of birds, but thankfully no rabbits or moles…so we are really very lucky. I have also seen shrews and newts in the garden.

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Anthony Powell November 7, 2011 at 12:50 am

Hi Sue
St Tiggywinkles is SW of Aylesbury, don’t know if that’s handy for Leicestershire, my geography round there isn’t hot. They’re after homes for orphaned squirrels, rabbits and hedgehogs. See http://www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk

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Mark Russell November 8, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Hi – We live right out in the sticks so fences aren’t really a problem for our Hedgehogs but it’s good to highlight the issues that these gorgeous little creatures are suffering. We rescued a couple of orphaned Hoglets about this time last year, all very sad as the mother had been run over but it was lucky we discovered them & they’re now living happily in our garden. They’re great little characters, we quite often see them of an evening & they do a great job of stopping our hostas being eaten by the slugs & snails!

Photos & story here:
http://www.clockworkmouse.co.uk/blog/wild-life-on-the-hill/rescuing-baby-hedgehogs

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nurturingnature November 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Hi Mark, Yes they do need our help, as does quite a lot of wildlife nowadays. I will shortly be showing an idea I had re concrete gravel boards and fences……Had a look at your web site..very nice.

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Mark Russell November 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Hi George
Thanks for your kind comments about our site. We’ve not provided anything special for our Hedgehogs so far as hibernation is concerned, we’ve a fairly large garden with areas of woodland & we’re always piling leaves up in certain areas so, I guess, that’s where they’ll go. We’ve released quite a few rescued ones this year – although there’re Badgers on the other side of the hill we never see any sign of them around here. It’s nice to go out of an evening & be fairly certain of seeing a Hedgehog at certain times of the year.
Having just looked at your pages on Newts, of which we seem to have many, I’d not thought about them being eaten by the Hedgehogs – I just hope they stick to the slugs!
Thanks again – Mark

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nurturingnature November 9, 2011 at 10:10 pm

That’s nature Mark!! Cheers George

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Helen Andrews November 12, 2011 at 1:03 am

Sue, I don’t know of a hedgehog rescue in Leicestershire but there is one in neighbouring Nottinghamshire. Here is a link to their website.

http://www.snufflelodge.org.uk/

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Faith Moulin January 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm

I found a hibernating hedgehog yesterday when I went to remove litter from my front garden under leaves which had fallen from the creeper on our front wall. It had covered itself in two plastic bags as well as the leaves. I was sorry to disturb it and put the bags back and piled leaves back on top (It didn’t seem to stir at all). I always tell people if they want to see wildlife they shouldn’t tidy up their garden too much in autumn – but there I was tidying up too much. This is a great project and has come just at the right time for my hedgehog to get suitably noted.

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nurturingnature January 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Hi Faith, I have only ever found one hibernating hedgehog deep under some large roots of a tree that itself formed part of a hedge whilst I was hedge laying along the River Mersey many years ago. I too felt a little grief in doing this and like yours it remained still and quiet amongst a pile of leaves that I was clearing to get at the tree! Your clever hedgehog using plastic bags as a waterproof roof!! I will shortly be showing what people can do to help hedgehogs move from one garden to another with ease!

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Faith Moulin February 3, 2012 at 9:19 pm

We made one of those wooden box hibernation homes for hedgehogs years ago and didn’t think any hedgehog had used it. What we did find though was that rats used it, and when we opened it up we found a hoard of about 20 frog skeletons. We had to kill the rats when they began to take our frogs from the pond, dragging them across the lawn in broad daylight like a lion with a wildebeest. That was why we did away with the hibernation box. Don’t other people have trouble with rats using them?

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nurturingnature February 3, 2012 at 11:36 pm

I have had wood mice eating froglets in my compost heap, so this does not surprise me. A useful source of protein 🙁 Did you manage to photograph it?

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Sue Gibson February 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Had a fall of snow overnight…I had an over abundance of apples this year, so I left the small ‘n damaged ones on the tree, which we can see from the house. This morning it was covered with Fieldfare and Redwing, along with Goldfinches, chaffinches and greenfinches. I put some apple out on the lawn too and that was devoured by blackbirds. Counted 21 Fieldfare, (although a couple could have been Redwing). Last year it took a family of thrushes about two days to polish off every berry from a very abundant holly bush that is about fifteen feet high

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nurturingnature February 5, 2012 at 7:38 pm

How lovely Sue, redwings are usually very shy birds being the smallest of the thrush family. If they come into your garden you know things are severe in the countryside. I had 15 blackbirds yesterday eating dry porridge oats……they give a funny call every morning not long after it starts to get light. It is a sound I hear every winter when they are really hungry and not at any other time of the year….they woof it down, it seems strange seeing so many blackbirds in one place altogether.

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Sue Gibson February 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm

The Redwing had tagged along with the Fieldfare, the garden is very private tho’ so I’m not awfully surprised. Yes the Blackbirds are flocking here too. They love apples too, but unlike Fieldfare they prefer them on the ground, and will wait until they drop, so I am putting chopped apples out for them. Plus cooked rice and Chicken. Haven’t heard the strange call you mentioned, but that may be because we have a squirrel free birdtable we put food out last thing at night so they have something first thing in the morning, and although I know they prefer to eat off the ground in a ‘clearing’ they will go on the table, scatter the food, and then eat off the ground…not daft are they?

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nurturingnature February 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Ha! I expect that when you are hungary you soon learn new tricks!!

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Kismit October 23, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I know most of the comments are months old, but as I am new to Hogs in my garden I have looked in many Places for help.. Hedgehogs hibernate between Nov-April. depending on the weather.
If you find a hog weighing under 800g there are several places you can get advice or if you want to become a carer, especially for injured Hogs that can never live wild again I would recommend these sites..

Hedgehog Street
http://www.hedgehogstreet.org this is where I have learnt so much over the past few weeks from talking to people on the forum..

Epping Forest Hedgehog Rescuehttp://www.thehedgehog.co.uk/
there is so much information on here from homes to diet to dangers and a forum. There is also Carers and Rescue Centres Database
which has people all over the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man.. even some in the USA
So please keep an eye out for these poor endangered Hogs and try to help in any way you can, even if it is just a bowl of water in your garden or making your pond Hog friendly..

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nurturingnature October 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Thanks for that useful advice! Cheers George

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Mark February 2, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Perhaps it may be worth contacting house builders so that they may incorporate these hedgehog friendly features into new housing estate gardens, such as they are?

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nurturingnature February 4, 2013 at 9:58 am

I have thought of doing this, and indeed spoken to a friend of mine whom advises on large scale building projects with an environmental slant. It is simply too big a job on my own and requires a far more concerted and targeted effort than one person alone. Even concrete gravel boards could easily be manufactured to encompass the hedgehog doorway. They would consider it if enough of the public requested them not only on ‘new build’ but as a replacement for an existing gravel board.

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Mark February 13, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Maybe just an oval shaped hole in the bottom of one fence panel per side would suffice?
It may be worth mentioning it not to builders but to council planners?

They do insist on many stupid planning specifications, however they may just consider a sensible one for at change?

I shall write to our local council and ask as well as copying in my MP.
Not that they listen much, however I will let you know their response!

It’s worth a try!

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nurturingnature February 15, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Good idea Mark. Please do keep me posted. Good luck! George

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Epping Forest hedgehog Rescue September 8, 2013 at 11:46 am

There is a campaign being run about hedgehog access so everybody can join in & help[
http://www.littlehistories.co.uk/willows-access-for-hedgehogs.html

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nurturingnature September 8, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I will have a look at this and have contacted the web site you posted. Thanks, George

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Trevor Boardman June 3, 2015 at 10:29 am

I have inpenetrable fences around my garden to keep cats out. What is the smallest hole I should cut to allow hedgehogs in ?

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nurturingnature June 4, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Trevor, If you have wooden fence cut a 15cm hole. If you can manage to get hold of some drain pipe and put that through the hole cats don’t like crawling along tunnels but hedgehogs will! Cheers, George

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rod starns June 4, 2015 at 9:52 pm

i think badgers are a danger to hedge hogs when badgers move in the hedge hogs move out to escape

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nurturingnature June 4, 2015 at 10:41 pm

Hi Rod, I suspect your thoughts are correct in the rural areas, but not as common in suburban areas. Although I do not know the science facts/numbers for badgers eating hedgehogs. Cheers, George

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Elle September 4, 2015 at 10:51 pm

Hi, we have a hedgehog that keeps coming into our garden, it’s marked so we know it’s the same one all the time, the problem is our dog keeps attacking it, so we have to move it out each night, but no matter how far we take it it returnes, despite being taken to a forest and having other houses it could go to, I don’t want it or my dog to get hurt, we keep blocking our fence but it still gets in and we have no idea how, how can we stop it from coming to our place? It’s also having to always cross the road which is scary :/

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nurturingnature September 5, 2015 at 10:01 pm

Hi Elle, Cant you keep your dog inside? The hedgehogs have declined hugely over the past few years I expect you are pleased to have one visit your garden as this is a rare sight in many peoples gardens today. The than my suggestion I cannot think of a suitable way to keep your dog away. Cheers, George

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Kate November 4, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Sadly in our area we are plagued with rabbits and I dug chicken wire into the ground below our fences to keep them out. Not good for hedgehogs I know but the rabbits were destroying my garden plants which are meant for bees, butterflies etc. I have just bought a hedgehog house and food so hope by feeding I will attract hedgehogs and supplement their food to compensate for the area of garden they cannot now get in to. Does no one else suffer from the rabbit v hedgehog dilemma?

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nurturingnature November 4, 2015 at 10:42 pm

Hi Kate, have you tried a length of 5 inch drainage pipe to allow hedgehogs into your garden through the fence? I think it would stop the larger rabbits and perhaps many of the sampler ones? HTH, Cheers, George

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Steve Hull March 1, 2016 at 8:24 pm

Motorways and other large and busy roads must be a major barrier to safe movement of hedgehogs being so busy nowdays so inbreeding will presumably become a problem soon as well.
Other more enlightened countries like France and the Netherlands have made a few wildlife bridges with natural grass and tree habitat on and broadened out at each side to encourage wildlife to use them and also special underpasses.
When I suggested this at a public consultation on a new “improved” motorway recently across a wildish area up here in Scotland it just got shrugged off as too expensive and impractical and no evidence it would be used .
It seems that saving the biosphere is a very trivial thing to the powers that be.

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nurturingnature March 8, 2016 at 11:35 pm

Many years ago I contacted my local authority to suggest that they install barriers as used by frogs/toads which could also be used for hedgehogs at critical points on local roads…I think they were plastic types fences made by Aco or something similar with tunnels under roads…. as you suggest Steve they just laughed at the expense…cheers, George

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monica August 25, 2016 at 6:42 pm

we found a healthy hedgehog in our bedroom two floors up last night. We have dense virginia creeper on the outside walls. Could it have climbed up and come through an open window?. We don’t have a cat or dog which could have brought it in. Monica

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nurturingnature August 25, 2016 at 10:09 pm

Wow, how cool! Hm, its certainly a possibility esp if it was dense enough for it to clamber up. If true that is quite a feat! Thanks for sharing, George

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Kate August 26, 2016 at 8:02 am

I created a hole in the fence last autumn and have been rewarded with 2 hedgehogs that now regularly visit the garden. So easy to do – don’t think about it, just get on with it!

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nurturingnature August 26, 2016 at 10:27 pm

Oh great, thanks for informing me Kate. Cheers, George

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Ali Cox September 9, 2016 at 7:41 am

Hi, we heard our chickens being v noisy last night, at 2130, when I went to investigate, they were running round their run squawking and had not put themselves to bed. On closer inspection we found a hedgehog had made itself a nest in the nest box of the chicken house. We would obviously like to relocate it somewhere more suitable…any suggestions?

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nurturingnature September 9, 2016 at 6:37 pm

Hm, interesting situation. It could be its making its hibernation site and therefore would be hibernation get pretty soon. So it would be asleep and not bothering your chickens. If it is not its hibernation site, you may wish to search for a hedgehog helper and speak to them. They may be able to help HTH George

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Gill October 1, 2016 at 4:50 pm

Anyone in or around Newcastle upon Tyne seeking advice / help with rescues, I recently found out about this tiny organisation which does great work – https://sites.google.com/site/pricklepad/home.
If you’re local it’d be great if you could support their occasional fundraisers.

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nurturingnature October 2, 2016 at 7:12 am

Thanks for sharing that Gill. Cheers, George

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