While you’re thinking about finding your own perfect home, take a moment to think about how you might be able to help some of our furry and prickly friends find theirs.
It’s that time of year when hedgehogs are awake and breeding, but it’s also a popular time of year to be mowing and strimming. On the back of Hedgehog Awareness Week, the GSPCA is reminding islanders to take care when giving their gardens a spring spruce up.
‘Mowing and strimming long grass and using hedge trimmers near to the ground can cause severe injuries to hedgehogs,’ said GSPCA manager, Steve Byrne.
‘Sometimes hedgehogs will snuggle down unnoticed into tall grass and can be caught with blades and strimmers. When cutting long overgrown areas, initially cut to about a foot high, and then check for hedgehogs and other wildlife before cutting any lower.’
It’s estimated that there were over 30 million hedgehogs in the UK in the 1950s, but recent estimates suggest there are less than a million left. There are still plenty of ways we can help them thrive in our gardens though. Hedgehogs love piles of leaves and logs, and they’re a gardener’s friend as they eat slugs, snails and insects.
‘We would urge anyone who comes across a mum and her young not to touch them and to give us a call for advice,’ said Steve.
‘Mother hedgehogs with their young are always best left alone if in a safe area, as disturbing them can mean that the babies don’t survive.’
Food and fresh water will encourage hedgehogs to return. Leave out foods like tinned dog or cat food (not fish-based) and crushed dog or cat biscuits. Specialist hedgehog food is also recommended and can be bought from wildlife food suppliers. Never feed hedgehogs milk as it can cause diarrhoea; instead provide plain, fresh water in a shallow bowl.
And even if you don’t have a garden you can still help. The GSCPA is currently fundraising to build a new Wildlife Hospital on its St Andrew’s site. Planning approval has been granted and the charity is hoping to raise around £900,000 to cover the build costs.
The GSPCA helps more than 2,000 wild animals every year ranging from seals to baby birds and of course lots of hedgehogs.
You can find out more about their appeal on their website http://www.gspca.org.gg/