How can gardeners help hedgehogs hibernate? Expert Emily Wilson looks at the dos and don'ts of giving our prickly friends a helping hand.

So, it's almost time for hedgehogs to hibernate for the winter, although the hot summer may have delayed the process by a few weeks.

Emily Wilson, hedgehog officer at Hedgehog Street, a joint campaign by the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) explains: "Hedgehogs usually hibernate from October/November to March/April, though this year the weather has been particularly unusual - snow in March and a heatwave in July - so this may well have an effect on when hedgehogs go into hibernation."

To help them on their way:


1. Create a hedgehog highway

Put a hole in or under your fence and ask your neighbours to do the same to create a hedgehog highway. It means the creatures will be able to roam further to forage for food, water and shelter.

2. Make sure they have plenty of food and water

Put out supplementary food to help recovering mothers and underweight yearlings fatten up. You could try using hedgehog food, or a meaty dog/cat food and a bowl of water.

Hedgehogs can remain active well into November and December, and will often move nesting sites during hibernation. A bowl of fresh water will be appreciated by any hog out and about.

3. Ensure they have a nesting place

Create a hedgehog house or leave part of your garden wild as a nesting area (with leaf piles, etc.)


1. Start a bonfire without checking

Piles of leaves and sticks offer a perfect nest for hedgehogs, so have a good rummage under your debris for your prickly friends before lighting a bonfire.

2. Use slug pellets

Try to use a natural alternative instead of pesticides in your garden as not only will they reduce the number of insects available for hedgehogs to eat, they might make hedgehogs very ill, or even kill them.

3. Tidy up too much

Leave an area of your garden to go wild - brambles, log piles, leaf piles and long grass or scrub are all perfect places for hedgehogs to make cosy a hibernation nest.

Try also to avoid using a strimmer unless you have to. Hedgehogs are often hiding in long grass or brush and their natural defence mechanism is to curl into a ball - which isn't much protection against machinery. Check all long grass or vegetation carefully before mowing or strimming.