Hazards for hedgehogs

There are many simple things we can all do in our everyday lives to help hedgehogs. This page gives you some of the most common problems faced by hedgehogs, all of which are completely avoidable.

  • Plastic holders for four packs can be lethal

    Plastic holders for four packs can be lethal

    Please don’t drop litter – a lot of hedgehogs get injured by getting caught up inside yoghurt pots, bottles, tin cans, or 4-pack plastic holders. They are naturally inquisitive creatures, but once they go into a small space, their spines prevent them from reversing out, so they need humans to cut them free. In some cases infection can set in and cause the hog severe suffering – in many cases, wildlife carers are left with little choice but to have the animal put to sleep

  • Try using pellets which don't contain metaldehyde

    Try using pellets which don’t contain metaldehyde

    Please don’t use metaldehyde slug pellets (the blue pellets) – hedgehogs eat slugs which have been poisoned by metaldehyde slug pellets. Unfortunately, the poisons have a serious effect on hedgehogs too, and will usually result in a slow and painful death in the wild. If you must use slug pellets, please use the newer form of ferric phosphate pellets, although there is no conclusive proof that these have no impact on hedgehogs or slug-eating birds, such as thrushes (see discussion below). Better still, use organic forms of slug control, such as beer traps, garlic water or circles of sand

  • If you use netting in your garden, either for your peas and beans, or for sport, please ensure you lift the netting at least a foot off the ground – this prevents all wildlife from becoming ensnared, although hedgehogs are seemingly the experts at this type of mishap. Sadly, netting bites into the hog’s skin if not caught soon enough, and if left trapped and untreated the hog gets infections, which will eventually kill it
  • Hedgehogs regularly lose limbs and facial features because of strimmers

    Hedgehogs regularly lose limbs and facial features because of strimmers

    Check long grass before you strim or mow – the most common injury to hedgehogs is caused by our garden machinery. Hedgehogs don’t run away from danger – they freeze and curl up. A quick check of long grass, taking you no more than a couple of minutes, before you start cutting or strimming grass is a simple step we should all take. Better still, why not leave a small strip of uncut grass at the edge of your lawn ? Not only will this provide a safe haven for a variety of wildlife, but you could also be rewarded with wild flowers growing in your garden. Hedgehogs suffer severe injuries from strimming incidents, ranging from losing limbs to having their noses sliced clean off. Very painful, often life-threatening and, if the hog survives, usually results in it having to be kept in an enclosed garden for the rest of its little life

  • Cover drain holes. Hogs have a knack of finding holes and dropping into them. They simply cannot get back out of these holes, and they are very difficult to rescue when they jam themselves into holes. Please cover over your holes with a paving slab or cat litter tray with a brick on top
  • Ensure your ponds have an escape route for all wildlife

    Ensure your ponds have an escape route for all wildlife

    If you have a garden pond, please provide an exit ramp. This can be a plank of wood at one end or, when designing a garden pond, have a slight slope up to ground level at one end. Whilst hogs are surprisingly good swimmers, they rapidly tire out – if they cannot get out easily, they will drown and you will have a nasty surprise in the morning

  • Compost heaps make great temporary homes for hogs, and even hibernaculums (places where they hibernate). Please take extra care when you put your fork in to your heap – a slight prod and lift of the material should soon reveal a hog if there is one residing there
  • Bonfires – hogs adore piles of logs, wood and twigs. If you want a bonfire, please do make sure you set light to your material on the same day you create it. Many hogs are burnt alive, particularly on Bonfire Night, usually sneaking into the woodpile a few days before the event. Creating the bonfire on the day of the event at least reduces the risk of trapping a hog
  • Full black bin liners (or any plastic bags) kept at ground level : please lift these off the ground – for some reason hogs seek these out and use them as nests (even one I rehabilitated over winter did this – twice !)

If you have found a hedgehog in distress please visit this page

2 thoughts on “Hazards for hedgehogs

  1. Bethany Wright

    Dear sir/madam,
    from what source do you gather that iron phosphate based slug pellets have no harmful effects on thrushes, hedgehogs, etc?
    I have just read a webpage probing the claims that it is ‘all-natural’ and apparently no trials were required because of iron phosphate’s harmless nature in mammalian digestive systems. However, it is equally harmless to gastropods, so the only way it kills slugs is the addition of a chelating agent, EDTA, releasing the iron from the phosphate compound within the gut and causing iron poisoning. EDTA is not listed among the ingredients due to some unfortunate loophole, and EDTA itself apparently may be a poisonous as metaldehyde.
    So I’m glad to read that you suggest beer traps as preferable, but would you consider changing the slug pellet advice?

    yours faithfully,
    Bethany Wright

    Reply
    1. clayts Post author

      I’m certainly happy to add your comment and to refer to it in the text of the article – interesting discovery.

      I agree that any pesticides are bad pesticides, and would encourage fully organic methods to use wherever possible – circles of sand, beer traps, garlic water etc are my preferred choices to recommend.

      Reply

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